Arab Human Resources Unexploited

  • 22 December 2009

The history of development confirms that humans are the source of all progress and the most important and valuable capital that societies possess. An Arab League report – Development Challenges in the Arab States: A Human Development Approach – in collaboration with the United Nations Development Program and a number of eminent Arab experts, reveals that several obstacles to the progress of human resources in the Arab world prevent it from making full and active contribution to the development process. The main stumbling blocks in this regard are unemployment, poverty, malnutrition and lack of education. The report says that the youth constitute more than half of the unemployed in most Arab countries and that the Arab world has the highest rate of unemployment among youth at the international level. In addition, there are about 140 million Arabs living below the poverty line, representing 40 percent of the population. About 38 percent of Arabs suffer from food shortages. These figures are of great significance for several reasons. First, they reveal the basic ills facing the development process, which are neither marginal nor subsidiary but represent the main drivers of growth as they relate to standard of living. The second point is that the youth are the mainstay of any strategy for renaissance and progress in any society. The Arab world suffers from chronic unemployment that hinders the region’s development, limits its human capital and prevents it from achieving the desired objectives. The third point pertains to problems that are not only linked to economic development but have strong and direct connection with other social, security, cultural and political issues. In this context, unemployment, shortage of food, illiteracy etc are all issues that foment social instability and obstruct participation based on proper awareness and understanding. The fourth issue is that unemployment, poverty, food shortage and other ills have worsened in recent years due to a rising population in Arab countries, which is considered the highest in the world. The fifth point is that these problems cause a major financial burden for Arabs and are a drain on their Gross Domestic Product. In this context, the Arab Labor Organization estimates that a 1 percent increase of unemployment rate in the Arab world constitutes a loss of $170 billion. These circumstances call for individual and collective responsibility so as to prevent the situation from getting worse and building a comprehensive strategic vision that deals with the matter.