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The rate of unemployment in the Middle East-North Africa region is the highest in the world compared to other regions, the director of the Arab Labor Organization said on Wednesday.
The global economic crisis has hit the Arab markets hard and may cause job losses to as many as five million people, Ahmad Luqman said, according to Al-Jazeera.
The rate of unemployment in Arab countries is one of the highest in the world compared to other regions and stands at around 14 percent, he said. Among young people, the numbers are even higher, at around 25%.
The ALO is a specialist organization of the 22-member Arab League,
If the economic situation remains in the current state, there will be around 21 million Arabs out of work by 2010, Luqman estimated.
In order to maintain the current rate of unemployment without it going up, there is a need to create some four million new jobs every year, he added.
Delegates at a recent Arab economic summit in Kuwait drafted a resolution calling for the comprehensive program for cutting down unemployment in Arab countries.
The resolution called on Arab governments to facilitate movement of Arab workers between states, support private-sector initiatives and those of Arab finance institutions.
In recent years Gulf states have become increasingly reliant on foreign workers from outside the region who work in construction and more recently in domestic service, providing cheap labor.
Facilitating the passage of Arab workers could bring more locals into the fold and reduce dependence on workers from outside.
Robert B. Zoellick, president of the World Bank Group said at that conference that there was a need to improve the quality of education in the Arab world to keep up with the needs of modern economy and equip them with the skills they need.
Zoellick said there was a need to diversify economies in the Arab world beyond the traditional sectors of public-sector employment and natural resources such as oil and gas.
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