MENA must create 100 million jobs by 2020 to meet unemployment numbers

Published November 22nd, 2015 - 11:31 GMT

The Arab region is plagued by a lack of job opportunities, knowledge and real notions of democracy, Shaikh Mohammad Sabah Al Salem Al Sabah, a member of the UN high-level advisory committee, has said.

Delivering a lecture that focused on challenges facing Arab youth and held as part of the 14th Middle East business conference at a british university on Friday, Shaikh Mohammad, a former foreign minister in Kuwait, said that according to figures from the World Bank, around 54 per cent of youth in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) were unemployed. The picture becomes gloomier with the fact that three out of four women in the region were also unemployed, he added.

Shaikh Mohammad stressed that Arab governments were now forced to create 100 million jobs until 2020 in order to meet the alarming unemployment numbers.

Arab governments should support the public sectors as part of the solution to the problem, Shaikh Mohammad said, adding that the educational system in the region should also be overhauled to develop youth skills and to include young people in the process of decision making and reforms, Kuwait News Agency (Kuna) reported.

Using the most recent technologies provided by the internet and social media, Arab youth between the ages of 15 and 29 could make a difference in terms of developing their own nations, Shaikh Mohammad said.

He highlighted how Kuwait launched in 2009 a $1 billion (Dh3.67 billion) fund to support small and medium size enterprises that could serve as a launch pad for youth to follow through with their aspirations.

He also indicated that his country, through the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED), had provided loans worth $15 billion to some 100 countries to help them develop their projects.

Shaikh Mohammad also noted that Kuwait played a crucial part in easing the suffering of refugees, indicating that three donor conferences were held in Kuwait to aid the Syrian refugees with $1.8 billion raised.

Kuwait will also co-organise the fourth conference to be held in London in February 2016, Shaikh Mohammad said.

By Habib Toumi

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