Poll shows rising drug use, mental health fears

Arab youth report an increase in the use of illegal drugs in the region and are concerned about mental health. (Shutterstock)
Updated 01 May 2019
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Poll shows rising drug use, mental health fears

  • Young Arabs thought that stricter laws and more enforcement would help to stop the spread of drugs, with smaller numbers opting for awareness and counseling

DUBAI: Two new features in the Arab Youth Survey this year will give regional policymakers food for thought: The increasing use of illegal drugs in the region, and concerns about mental health and how it is treated in the Arab world.
Despite the universal criminal status of illegal drugs and strong penalties for their use in almost all of the countries polled, many young Arabs reported that drug use was on the rise, and drugs were easy to obtain in their countries.
A total of 57 percent of respondents said that more drugs were being used and that they were easy to get hold of. Even in the GCC, where most said that drugs were hard to obtain, only 30 percent said that drug use was in decline.
More than three-quarters of those polled in the Levant (76 percent) said drug use was on the rise, as well as 59 percent in North Africa. 
Encouragement by friends at school and work, stress and boredom were cited as the top three reasons for the increase.
Young Arabs thought that stricter laws and more enforcement would help to stop the spread of drugs, with smaller numbers opting for awareness and counseling.
While the poll results on mental illness were less clear-cut, there was still widespread concern among young people about its incidence in their societies. Half of those polled said there was a stigma attached to mental health issues.
Only 31 percent said they knew of someone facing mental health issues, spread evenly across the three sub-regions. But 54 percent said that qualified medical care was difficult to access in their countries. In the strife-torn Levant, 81 percent said it was difficult to get proper care.
What causes the stress many young people suffer differed across the region. In the GCC, personal relationships were cited as the biggest source of stress, followed closely by academic factors.
In the Levant, however, respondents cited lack of national safety and security as the major cause
of stress.


Mamdouh Saif, Saudi-born musician, composer and producer

Updated 20 August 2019
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Mamdouh Saif, Saudi-born musician, composer and producer

Mamdouh Saif is one of the most popular Arabic music composers. 

The 52-year-old, born in Saudi Arabia, is a composer, pianist and music producer.

He rose to fame through his partnership with Abdulmajeed Abdullah in 1990, when Saif became the keyboard player for the singer.

In 1994, he composed for Abdullah for the first time, and since then he has acted as a producer, artistic supervisor and music consultant.

In 2005, Saif visited India and said it changed his view on life. He launched his solo career in 2006, and furthered his studies at the Berklee College of Music in the US.

Some of Mamdouh’s most popular works include Ya taib Algalb (1996) and “Harmony” (2014).

He has also composed an album to accompany a science-fiction novel written by Ahmad Al-Aidroos, with each piece of music accompanying a specific part of the literature.

Recently, the Ministry of Culture’s Quality of Life Program announced it will set up academies, including two in the next two years, offering academic qualifications and enlarging  the Kingdom’s footprint in heritage, arts and crafts, and music.

The composer called these music academies “the core of music production and talent development in Saudi Arabia,” adding that the music industry was a large and diverse field and education in it was crucial.