Arab leaders ‘corrupt’, says poll

POLITICAL leaders in the Arab world are seen as ‘mostly corrupt’, according to 55% of respondents to a recently conducted survey by Arabian Business and respected opinion pollsters YouGov. Just 1% considered all Arab leaders ‘honest’.

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By  Massoud A. Derhally Published  October 2, 2005

POLITICAL leaders in the Arab world are seen as ‘mostly corrupt’, according to 55% of respondents to a recently conducted survey by Arabian Business and respected opinion pollsters YouGov. Just 1% considered all Arab leaders ‘honest’. The majority of participants said they believed their leaders were “mostly corrupt politicians, who destabilise the region, but that there were a few honest individuals who want to do the right thing for their countries and the region”. Meanwhile, 16% said there were only “a few corrupt individuals among them who destabilise the region”, but classified most politicians as honest people “who only wish the best for their countries”. The survey, which was conducted between August 16 and September 15 dealt with a cross-sample of society from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region with a representative number of respondents from 17 different countries. UK-based research firm YouGov has become one of the most reliable pollsters in the world, predicting in advance the results of the last two British general elections to within exactly one percentage point. The company uses online panels to provide data for public policy, market research and stakeholder consultation. Its method of diverse sampling has proved to be highly accurate in the past, and was judged by Arabian Business to be a reliable indicator of true Arab opinion. YouGov provides more detail than conventional research, using double the conventional sample size, and allowing for return to key respondents with follow-up surveys, improving the data and insight gained. The quality of response is widely considered to be higher, as respondents are able to answer questions at a time and in a format convenient to them, allowing a more considered view. The survey tabled various questions in a bid to judge whether Arab participants link a secular state system with democracy. The poll also asked if an Islamic state could co-exist with a Western style of democracy. Saudi Arabia is the only theocracy in the Arab world. The other countries in the region are governed by a combination of Shari’a and Western laws. As such, respondents were asked how much control they believed religion should have over a country’s governing system. With reform being the buzzword for much of the Arab word, respondents were also quizzed about the type of changes they thought needed to be made in order to improve economic growth and productivity in the region. In addition, the survey questioned links between living standards and different governing systems. Reporters Without Borders, which annually publishes a worldwide index of press freedom has previously criticised the MENA region’s Arab countries for limiting freedom of expression and for unnecessarily prosecuting journalists. As a result, those polled were asked if they were satisfied with the levels of freedom available in their respective countries. Anti-Western sentiment in the Arab world has surged in recent years as a result of the US-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the ongoing occupation of Palestinian land by Israel, largely supported by the United States. The survey provides insight into how Arabs view the US, whether they believe Iraq is moving any closer to becoming a democracy and what the end effect of a democracy in Iraq might be. In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the US government launched several ventures to influence Arab opinion of America. The most known enterprises have been Radio Sawa and the Al Hurra news channel. The survey estimated how successful these ventures have been in acquiring listeners and provided insight into how views of the respondents may be affected by media interpretations of certain events. The previous YouGov-Arabian Business poll, which was published earlier this year, revealed that 87% of the sample believed that women should have the same political rights as men in the GGC. It also showed that the BBC was the most trusted news source in the region and that most respondents expected property prices in Dubai to crash within the next five years. Arabian Business will release the conclusive and complete findings of the latest survey over the next two weeks.

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