Editor’s note: This article is part of a package of five articles about the obstacles that researchers in Arab countries face. Readers can access all of the articles on this page.
The vast majority of researchers in the Arab region want to work elsewhere. This desire holds true across age groups, fields of research and country income levels. These are the findings of a regionwide survey of 650 researchers conducted by Al-Fanar Media.
When asked if they would like to move abroad for a permanent research position, 91 percent of researchers said yes. When asked where they would like to go, the most popular option—at 68 percent—was Europe, including the United Kingdom. This was followed by North America at 55 percent. (The total exceeds 100 percent because respondents who said they would like to leave were allowed to choose more than one answer.)
Some of the participants did say, however, that they would like to move within the Arab region. One-third of those surveyed (34 percent) said they’d like to go to a Gulf Cooperation Council country and 27 percent said they would like to go to an Arab country outside of the Gulf.
As high as the proportion of professional wanderlust is, observers of Arab research were relatively dispassionate—although still disturbed—by the survey’s results.
“I’m not astonished because I know the situation in some Arab countries is bad for researchers,” says Abdelhamid Nechad, an economist at the Ecole Supérieure du Commerce et des Affaires in Casablanca who has previously written about the brain drain in Morocco and what causes it.