New research shows that 66% actively practice their religion in the Middle East.

The survey - Mosque and State: How Arabs See The Future -  carried out by Arab News in partnership with YouGov was launched yesterday at the Arab Strategy Forum in Dubai.

The annual event held under the patronage of HRH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, was well-timed to address recent events.

Thousands of Arabic speakers were interviewed across 18 countries on what they felt is driving regional conflict, were major problems for their countries and on the intersection between religion and politics.

Changing Relationship between Mosque and State

58% of respondents rejected their religion being used to advance a political agenda.
72% said their country was deeply religious or somewhat religious, while 66% actively practice their religion
On mosque and state, the most popular response (35%) was that separating mosque and state would not cause a decline in religious practice.
There appeared little support for further secularization, with 83% remaining neutral, unsure or unwilling to take a position on the issue. Only 17% believed it could be positive.

Iraq and Lebanon:

Against the backdrop of protests in Lebanon and Iraq - where deep resentment at Iranian influence has been exposed, culminating in the resignation of prime minister, Abdul-Mahdi, both nations provided distinct results on the issue of Mosque and State.

68% of Iraqis and 65% of Lebanese (compared to an Arab World average of 36%) believe there would be 'less wars in the world if religion and politics were separate'.
Iraqis (at 75%) and Lebanese (at 63%) are most conclusive in thinking religion affects political decisions
73% of Iraqis and 74% of Lebanese (compared to the Arab World average of 58%) reject religion being used to advance a political advantage.
50% of Iraqis said religious political parties were a top problem in the country.
Future of the Arab World and Extremism

On extremism-fuelled politics, the most popular response (37%) was that fewer political parties would be motivated by extremism over the next decade.
Most respondents (51%) supported having public places of worship for other religions.
On moderate Islam, the most popular response (47%) was that moderate Islam would rise over the next decade across the Arab world.
Only 7% named extremism as the top problem for the home country, and just 15% saw it as the main cause of Arab world conflict.

Economic Concerns

61% of respondents believe the future would be better if economic matters were put above other policy issues.
57% cited corruption as the biggest problem for their country.
Corruption was named the biggest problem by 65% of Iraqis and 53% of Lebanese.
42% across the Arab World were concerned about unemployment.

The findings were discussed at a session at the Arab Strategy Forum moderated by Faisal J. Abbas, Editor in Chief of Arab News, British writer Ed Hussein and Omar Saif Ghobash, Assistant Minister for Cultural Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Faisal J. Abbas said: "The findings of this study, which are perhaps backed by the reality unfolding on the ground in Lebanon and Iraq today, is that Arabs will no longer forgive political exploitation and corruption, and religious parties are no longer an exception."

"When you dive into the findings of this poll, perhaps the events unfolding should come as no surprise. Yes, the Arab World is predicted to remain religious, but people overwhelmingly want religion to be a private matter and source for spiritual guidance, not political decision making."