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Gulf warned of jobs revolt
Gulf News

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 survival.

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 contribution

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 Geneva.



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