Gulf warned of
Dubai: Unemployment is a ticking bomb that could cause 'a
revolt' across the Gulf region, a top official said yesterday.
"The challenge of high unemployment rates causes feelings of
hopelessness, marginalisation, and even revolt, all of which
negatively impact social cohesion, stability and growth," Abdul
Rahman Bin Hamad Al Attiyah, secretary-general of the Gulf
Co-operation Council (GCC), told delegates at the opening of the
30th Governing Council of the International Fund for Agricultural
Development (IFAD) in Rome.
"For the GCC countries, [unemployment] is an issue of great
importance as high rates of employment are prevalent, particularly
among young people, and have become one of the most pressing
challenges faced by countries in the Near East and North Africa," he
said in a statement e-mailed to Gulf News yesterday.
Al Attiyah's comments echoed the latest IMF report on unemployment
in the GCC countries.
"They [IMF directors] stressed that labour policies should be
implemented flexibly to avoid undue pressures on private sector
salaries, in order to preserve competitiveness. To address
employment of nationals, attention should be given to long-term
education, training, appropriate wage policies, and labour
legislation," the IMF report on the UAE last year said.
The GCC governments are addressing the issues. Last week, His
Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and
Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, announced a strategic
plan that will produce 11 per cent annual growth in GDP to Dh396.36
billion ($108 billion) by 2015 by creating 882,000 new jobs and
bring the total employment numbers to 1.73 million by 2015.
Poverty in the Near East and North Africa region is concentrated in
rural areas, where some 60 to 70 per cent of the region's poor
people live. Latest estimates indicate that about 95 million rural
people in the region live on less than $2 a day and about 65 million
live in absolute poverty, without the minimum requirements for basic
IFAD's Near East and North Africa member states include 15 borrowing
countries or territories: Algeria, Djibouti, Egypt, Gaza and the
West Bank, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Somalia, the Sudan,
the Syrian Arab Republic, Tunisia, Turkey and Yemen; and five
non-borrowing countries: Kuwait, Libya, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE.
As of December 2006, IFAD funded 105 programmes and projects in 15
countries in the region for a total investment of $1.3 billion.
In August 1989, IFAD and the GCC signed a cooperation agreement to
pursue shared development goals and cooperate on agricultural and
rural development, nutrition and related research.
GCC countries have provided $116.8 billion to date in official
development assistance. IFAD alone has received more than $614
million in contributions to its resources.
"The role played by the GCC states during the establishment of IFAD
reflected the region's tradition and historical commitment to
development assistance and to addressing the pressing needs of
developing countries," Al Attiyah said.
Al Attiyah played a leading role in the establishment of IFAD in
1977 as Ambassador for the State of Qatar to the United Nations in