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.


Dr. Nasser bin Mohammed Al-Aqeeli, vice rector at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals

Updated 2 min 16 sec ago
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Dr. Nasser bin Mohammed Al-Aqeeli, vice rector at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals

Dr. Nasser bin Mohammed Al-Aqeeli is the vice rector for applied studies and research at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM) in Dhahran.

He has been published more than 100 times in reputable journals and given lectures at more than 35 conferences. He has been involved in research grants exceeding SR120 million ($32 million) supported by companies and institutions such as the King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), Saudi Aramco, KFUPM and Lockheed Martin Aircraft Industries.

Al-Aqeeli has 17 patents registered with the US Patent Office and three with the Gulf Patent Office. He got his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from KFUPM and his doctorate in materials engineering from McGill University in Canada.

He worked in the materials, science, and engineering department of MIT as a postdoctoral fellow and was a research scientist at Harvard.

Al-Aqeeli has won several awards, including the Almarai prize from KACST for creative achievement in 2015 and the Arab Creativity Award from the Arab Thought Foundation that same year. He is a member of the Minerals, Metals, and Materials Society, the American Society for Metals-International, and chairman of the board at the Arabian Journal for Science and Engineering.

Female students of KFUPM represented the Kingdom at Intel ISEF 2019 in Arizona, US. They won five major awards. Shouq Faisal Madani received a scholarship from the University of Arizona. 

Commenting on the achievement of KFUPM students, Al-Aqeeli said: “We are proud of the students of the university.”

He also vowed to take measures to promote and nurture local talent.