Frequently Asked Questions

general

What is the Arab Barometer?

The Arab Barometer is a nonpartisan research network that provides insight into the social, political, and economic attitudes and values of ordinary citizens across the Arab world. We have been conducting high quality and reliable public opinion surveys in the Middle East and North Africa since 2006. We are the largest repository of publicly available data on the views of men and women in the MENA region. Our findings give a voice to the needs and concerns of Arab publics. You can find out more about us in here.

How is the Arab Barometer organized?

The Arab Barometer is directed by a Steering Committee.  Members of the committee include the leaders of regional hubs at four institutions in the Middle East and North Africa: The Center for Strategic Studies at the University of Jordan in Amman, the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah, the Social and Economic Survey Research Institute at Qatar University in Doha, and One to One for Research and Polling in Tunis.  Additionally, two of the project’s principal investigators, Amaney Jamal of Princeton University and Mark Tessler of the University of Michigan, are members of the Steering Committee.  Day-to-day operations are managed by Project Director Michael Robbins and a team of specialists based in the U.S. You can find out more about the organizational structure here.

How is the Arab Barometer funded?

The Arab Barometer is a not-for-profit research network and funds its surveys through grants received from organizations interested in public opinion in the Middle East and North Africa. Our funders vary across waves and details specific to each wave are available here.

Do funders influence the survey in any way?

Funders have no influence on the survey results. Funders may suggest topics for investigation, but do not have direct approval of the final questionnaire or the data collection process. The survey design and data collection is conducted by the core team members in coordination with the Steering Committee. The data are collected independently by our regional hubs in cooperation with local partners in each country.

The core Arab Barometer team monitors the data collection continuously and ensures that the data are collected according to highest possible standards, including without interference from funders or any other partisan organization. All materials used to prepare, implement, and postprocess the Arab Barometer surveys are made publicly available to ensure full transparency.

Is the Arab Barometer part of a global network of public opinion polls?

The Arab Barometer is part of the Global Barometer Survey, which includes the Afrobarometer, the Asian Barometer, the Central Asian Barometer, Latinobarómetro, and the South Asian Barometer. While we act independently, we meet twice annually with leaders from these project to exchange ideas and share best practices for improving data quality. A key aim of the Global Barometer is to harmonize survey questions across projects to increase the comparability of questions outside the MENA region.

methodology

How many countries participate?

The number of countries we survey varies by wave. We aim to include as many countries in the MENA region as we can. However, this is not always possible due to funding constraints, security concerns, and a limited number of field organizations in the region. To date we have surveyed Arab publics in 15 countries. Want to know more about what countries were included in which wave? See our country and wave pages for further information.

Which countries participate?

To date, we surveyed the Arab publics in 15 countries: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, Qatar, and Yemen. However, not all countries are included in all waves. The most extensive wave is currently in field. The Arab Barometer Wave V is aiming to survey people in up to 15 countries. See our country and wave pages for more information on which countries have participated in each wave.

How are survey participants selected?

The Arab Barometer draws area probability samples that are representative of citizens aged 18 and above. All participants are interviewed in their home or place of residence. Most of our countries apply multistage stratified sampling designs. In most countries, we randomly select Primary Sampling Units (PSU) using probability proportional to size according to pre-set strata. Household selection occurs using random walks from an arbitrarily selected starting point applying systematic skip patterns (for example, selecting every tenth eligible dwelling). Respondents are typically selected using a Kish grid, but some countries follow the first or last birthday method. However, most importantly, the principle of random selection is upheld at each stage, meaning the final results are representative of the country’s population, within the stated margin of error for the survey. Please see the Technical Reports for each Arab Barometer wave for more details.

How large is the sample size?

The Arab Barometer survey aims to sample at least 1,200 respondents in the participating countries, which yields a margin of error of ±3 percent (before taking into account design effects). The total number of interviews may vary by country and wave. The fifth wave will include 2,400 respondents in most countries. See the Technical Reports for each Arab Barometer wave for more details.

How is the questionnaire designed?

The questionnaire is developed by the core research team in coordination with Steering Committee. Some of our questions are trend questions that we have included since Wave I collected in 2006. The exact wording for most of these questions remains unchanged. If we made changes to a specific question, we test the impact of the difference in wording in pretests or split samples. We have some rotating modules that are determined by the Steering Committee with methodological advice from the research team. See our questionnaire for a detailed account on the survey questions asked.

What topics are covered by the questionnaire?

We predominantly cover topics related to politics, religion, and society including questions about pluralism, perceived freedoms, tolerance and equal opportunities; social and inter-personal trust; social, religious and political identities, conceptions of governance and understanding of democracy; as well as civic engagement and political participation. See our questionnaire for a detailed account on the survey questions asked.

Who decides which questions to ask?

Decisions regarding the topics and survey questions are made within the Steering Committee in coordination with the core research team, which advises on methodological challenges.

How long is the questionnaire?

The questionnaire is quite extensive. On average, it takes about 45 minutes to complete a survey interview.

How does the AB translate the questionnaire?

The Arab Barometer surveys are implemented in Arabic only in all countries (except Iraq where a portion is conducted in Kurdish). However, many questions are based on questions developed in English. The translation is done through an iterative process by experts based at our hub institutions in the Middle East and North Africa. The final translation is approved by members of the Steering Committee. The regional diversity of the members of the Steering Committee ensures that our questionnaire includes wording that can be understood reasonably by participants across the region. The Arabic version of the questionnaire is our official version and we provide an English equivalent for use by non-Arabic speaking researchers.

How is the questionnaire administered?

The first three waves of the Arab Barometer surveys were administered in face-to-face interviewer using paper-and-pencil (PAPI). For the fourth wave, half of the countries have used Computer Assisted Personal Interviews (CAPI). The fifth wave of the Arab Barometer will be conducted using CAPI in nearly all countries. See our Technical Reports for each wave for a detailed account on the mode of data collection in each country.

How is fieldwork conducted?

Fieldwork practices and procedures are coordinated by local country partners in coordination with our regional hubs and differ from country to country. The Arab Barometer core research team monitors fieldwork procedures continuously during the field period. See Technical Reports for details about each country’s field practices.

Who collects the data?

The data are collected by a local team of researchers in each country in coordination with our regional hubs in MENA. You can find a full list of collaborators by AB wave on our waves pages.

data

When are the data made available?

The Arab Barometer team strives to make data publicly available within six months of the completion of each wave. In certain cases when the results for the full wave may be delayed excessively, we release partial data sets of the countries that have been completed.

What data are available?

To date the Arab Barometer has collected four waves of data in 15 countries. We provide the individual wave data for all countries, but we are also preparing a time series file that merges the first four waves of the Arab Barometer. Our data are publicly available and free of charge. You can download the Arab Barometer data here.

In what format(s) are the data available?

The Arab Barometer provides the survey data in various formats. We provide standard SPSS, Stata and R readable CSV files. The data are available in English, due to the compatibility of Arabic with some of the software packages, data are currently only available in Arabic for SPSS usage. See our Data Downloads page for more details.

Who can use the AB data?

The data for all waves is publicly available. Anyone can download the Arab Barometer data for analysis at no cost.

How can I access the AB data?

You can access the Arab Barometer data though our Survey Data page under Data Downloads. All you have to do is do complete a short download form. For those without access to advanced statistical software, the online data analysis tool is available for data analysis.

other

I am a media representative; how can I contact you if I wish to use the AB data for a story?

You are free to contact our experts directly, but it be best if you directly reach out to our Communications Associate. She will be happy to answer your questions and to coordinate your requests.

I am a government representative; how can I contact you if I wish to use the AB data to support my work?

You are free to contact our experts directly, but it be best if you directly reach out to our Communications Associate. She will be happy to answer your questions and to coordinate your requests.

I am a member of a charity or civil society organization; how can I contact you if I wish to use the AB data to back up advocacy work?

You are free to contact our experts directly, but it be best if you directly reach out to our Communications Associate. She will be happy to answer your questions and to coordinate your requests.

I am a researcher; how can I contact you if I encounter any troubles downloading the data?

All data and download requests can be directly addressed to our Research Associate. She will be happy to help solve the issue or coordinate trouble shooting for you.

How can I contact you if I discover a data error or have a data question?

The Arab Barometer aims to keep high data quality and to be error free. If you have discovered an error in our data, we would appreciate it if you could let us know. You want to contact our Research Associate. Any data question you may have that are not addressed in the technical reports can also be addressed to our Research Associate.

How can I contact you if I find errors on the AB webpage?

The Arab Barometer aims to keep a high quality and to be error free webpage. The webpage does not display well? You have encountered an error in the English or Arabic version? A particular path is broken? If you have discovered an error on our webpage, we would appreciate it if you could let us know. You want to contact our Communications Associate.