AMMAN: Youth unemployment is high on the agenda at the World Economic Forum (WEF) on the Middle East and North Africa, currently taking place at the W in Jordan.
The WEF event, which officially started Friday, will today see Crown Prince Al Hussein bin Abdullah II of Jordan address more than 1,100 delegates on the theme “enabling a generational transformation.”
The 16th meeting in the region brings together a diverse group of leaders to address issues such as humanitarian crisis and the challenges presented to employment and jobs by the so-called “Fourth Industrial Revolution.”
It will also address the gender gap holding back regional competitiveness and inclusion, the future of Syria and Iraq, and the way forward through economic and political reforms, a WEF statement said.
“As 31 percent of young people in the region are unemployed, new initiatives and urgent action are needed to realize this potential. When skilled talent is present — particularly educated women — it is not being deployed effectively in the workforce,” WEF said.
A report issued by WEF entitled “The Future of Jobs and Skills in the Middle East and North Africa” found that few of the region’s economies are fully prepared for the impending disruption brought about by technological change.
The WEF meeting, which runs until May 21, is being attended by 10 heads of state and government, more than 130 public figures and 500 global and regional business leaders.
It will host refugees from the Zaatari camp, who will meet with the WEF’s Regional Business Council to find ways to build on the success of free trade zones, allowing refugee-made products to reach markets.
The meeting will also feature a gathering of 100 startups from the Arab world, many of which “have been founded under the most challenging circumstances,” the organizer said. These startups include an Arabic voice-recognition software developer from Syria, the first e-mobile wallet firm from Libya, and a mobile game studio run by a team from Gaza.
“The current reform momentum in the Middle East and North Africa is promising, but success is not guaranteed. Together with our long-term partner Jordan, the World Economic Forum is hosting its biggest-ever meeting of entrepreneurs and start-ups in the region. We’re inviting them to advise leaders on new growth strategies that will bring prosperity and bolster peace efforts throughout the region,” said Mirek Dusek, head of regional strategies in MENA at the World Economic Forum.
Public figures billed as attending the WEF meeting include: Fuad Masum, president of Iraq; Sherif Ismail, prime minister of Egypt; Giorgi Kvirikashvili, prime minister of Georgia; and Felipe VI, king of Spain.