World Economy

Arab Unemployment Hits 20m

Arab Unemployment Hits 20mArab Unemployment Hits 20m

Finance, labor and education leaders have urged a fresh approach to address unemployment in the Arab world as figures show 20 million Arabs do not work.

The leaders have gathered in Riyadh for the three-day Arab Forum for Development and Employment to discuss ways to find jobs for millions of Arabs in the region, Arab News reported.

The forum’s theme, Towards Social Protection and Sustainable Development, comes as figures released at the event show Arab unemployment has risen to 16 percent, or 20 million people.

The Ministry of Labor tweeted on Monday that the participants would be looking at aligning training and education programs with labor market  requirements.

Recent studies have confirmed a correlation between unemployed youth and the lack of sustainable development initiatives, which posed a threat to Arab governments, Arab News reported.

Labor Minister Adel Fakeih said “an effective solution must be found for unemployment in the Arab world.” He hoped the forum would produce recommendations to create jobs.

Keynote speaker Guy Ryder, director-general of the International Labor Organization, said the Saudi government had contributed significantly to the stability and growth of the labor market.

Saudi Central Department of Statistics and Information said the unemployment rate had dropped from 12 percent in 2012 to 11.7 percent in 2013 or 622,533 Saudis.

It showed that the work force totaled 11.3 million people over the age of 18, making up 54 percent of the country’s population, with males accounting for over 9.5 million people.

Denies Blame

The Saudi Labor Ministry has denied that recent price increases in the kingdom are due to its crackdown on illegal foreign workers, enforcement of Saudization quotas and its decision to back a two-day weekend for the private sector.

An official told Arab News the role of the ministry was to regulate the market, create jobs and reduce unemployment, all of which had benefited from recent decisions.

More Saudis had been employed in the kingdom’s private sector in the past “few months” than it had in the previous 30 years, helping to improve the employment level of locals by 1.5 percent, Labor Minister Adel Faqeih said.

Faqeih said Saudization had increased more than 30 percent and the nationalization of jobs would continue until the unemployment rate dropped to a “satisfactory” level.