Arab states have nearly 20 million jobless people and the unemployment rate has increased to record high levels in some regional countries because of internal conflicts, according to the Arab Labour Organization (ALO).
While some Arab nations have made progress in cutting unemployment because of higher oil prices, many of them have suffered from an increase in such rates, ALO director general Ahmed Lukman said, quoted by Saudi newspapers.
“There are an estimated 20 million jobless Arabs at present…the political upheaval that has hit the region has pushed up the unemployment rates to unprecedented levels,” he told the papers after talks with Saudi officials in Riyadh.
He said unemployment rates range between three and as high as 40 per cent in the Arab region, adding that regional countries suffering from internal conflicts have the highest rates. “This is a serious indicator of which we have warned many times.”
“On average, the joblessness rate in the Arab region is around 16 per cent, one of the highest in the world….these rates have risen by around two per cent in the past two years…a key problem is that many Arab states still do not give jobs to women.”
In a recent study, the Cairo-based ALO said regional nations need to pump nearly $70 billion in urgent investment to create jobs for their citizens and tackle festering unemployment which has cited as one of the main causes of unrest.
Before the eruption of turmoil in some Arab states, the region needed to create at least five million jobs annually to absorb the massive number of job seekers and newcomers to the labour market, the study said.
“There is an urgent need to expand inter-Arab investment to fund development projects that will provide more jobs for the Arab youth who are suffering from a severe unemployment problem….such a problem is expected to exacerbate following the wave of unrest hitting the Arab world,” it said.
“There was a need to create more than five million jobs in the region every year in the next decade before the eruption of the incidents in the Arab world…what is needed now is the investment of at least $70 billion to curb the unemployment ordeal.”
But the study stressed that Arab nations, which are major capital exporters, should improve their investment laws and create a better environment to encourage domestic investors to pump funds at home.
“Arab governments need to improve investment laws and create more incentives for local investors…they should encourage small and medium enterprises to attract domestic funds and stop a continuous capital flight,” it said.
“There are other factors that will help spur inter-Arab investment, including better administrative procedures, improvement of measures to set up a project, creation of more economic cities, expanding promotion drives and development of free zones.”