Almost 80 percent of the Middle East has expressed positive views on Turkey, according to a survey of the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV).
TESEV carried out the survey on "the perception of Turkey in the Middle East" on 2,323 people in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Tunisia, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Yemen and Libya in 16 countries between October 19 and December 15, 2011.
The survey indicated that 78 percent of survey participants had a very or somewhat favourable opinion of Turkey.
According to the survey, citizens in the Middle East are hopeful. 62 percent of respondents said they felt more positive about the future of the region than they did 12 months ago. 60 percent felt that the Arab Spring had a positive effect on the region and 52 percent thought that the events of the last 12 months had a positive effect on their country.
The survey indicated that Turkey is the most popular country in the eyes of the people of the region. 78 percent of survey participants had a very or somewhat favourable opinion of Turkey - higher than any other country surveyed. For example, this surpasses favourable opinion of Saudi Arabia (64 percent), the UAE (70 percent), China (64 percent), Egypt (62 percent), France (46 percent) and the US (33 percent). Only in Syria is favourable opinion of Turkey lower than 50 percent. However, even in Syria, more than half of respondents believe Turkey has a positive impact in peace in the region.
The survey said 77 percent of respondents thought Turkey has a positive impact on peace in the region. This is despite deteriorating relations with Israel. Likewise, 71 percent thought Turkey should play a bigger role in the region.
According to the survey, Turkey is a model country. 61 percent of people in the Middle East consider Turkey a model for the region. Only 22 percent believe it is not. Support for the Turkish model is highest in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt. The top three reasons why the people of the region see Turkey as a model are its democratic regime (32 percent), economy (25 percent) and Muslim identity (23 percent).
Moreover, the survey indicated that expectations for the Turkish economy are high. Saudi Arabia is currently seen as the region's strongest economy, with Turkey second. However, Turkey is seen as the region's coming leader by 25 percent of respondents, ahead of Saudi Arabia (16 percent) and the UAE (8 percent).
TESEV is an independent think tank based in Istanbul. Established as a think tank in 1994, TESEV aims to bridge the gap between the policymaking process and the academic community. With three programme areas, TESEV aims to tackle some of Turkey's most pressing domestic and foreign policy problems.