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Al-Salami: JEF will focus on Saudi unemployment

Fahd Al-Salami, executive board member of the Jeddah Chamber for Commerce and Industry’s (JCCI), says the chamber has adopted mechanisms for achieving further successes for the society and the private sector.
In an exclusive interview with Arab News, Al-Salami added Jeddah Economic Forum (JEF), now considered at the forefront of the Kingdom’s economic events, is one of those mechanisms.
JEF is scheduled to take place from Tuesday to Thursday at Jeddah Hilton, with the support of Makkah Gov. Prince Mishaal bin Abdullah.
Al-Salami said the opening of the edition would be different from the previous ones as it will be conducted in a “unique way.”
With the support of officials, the private sector and civil society, the 14th edition is expected to pursue the path of accomplishments.
He stressed the importance of JEF’s 14th edition that focuses on the issue of job hunting.
Entitled “Development through the youth,” the event hopes to find solutions to the unemployment issue. “This is very important, particularly in light of the formal statistics that show the region’s need for 15 million job opportunities in the next 10 years,” he added.
Al-Salami citing the Ministry of Labor’s data stated that unemployment in the Kingdom is qualitative and not quantitative.
“There are one million unemployed citizens in Saudi Arabia while there are ten million expatriates working in the Kingdom. This qualitative unemployment is a result of the social and educational culture in Saudi Arabia,” Al-Salami said, emphasizing that the social and educational culture had been adding to the unemployment problem.
“Many parents spoiled their children, didn’t teach them how to be responsible and raised them to believe they should only be managers. Our generation became successful after working hard in vocational careers to reach our current status,” he added.
The first day will focus on job hunting factors from the demand perceptive, while the second day will discuss improving the human resources from the supply factor.
The issue of women unemployment will be discussed, especially as the percentage of women university graduates is increasing.
Women speakers and participants will attend the different activities of the forum. Some Saudi women will be joined by their overseas counterparts.
Al-Salami explained that different sessions will have diverse topics.
For example, the need to improve the working environment, establishing the relations between investors and businessmen, supporting the entrepreneurs and empowering youth’s skillsets. Supporting the tourism sector and finding job opportunities in the infrastructure field will be discussed in meetings alongside the sessions.
Al-Salami stated that the forum, since its establishment in 2000, has hosted 24,000 participants from 60 different countries with 2,000 people attending it annually. With 600 speakers from 40 countries, 23 presidents and 320 sponsors, the forum has carved a niche for itself as one of the most important economic activities in the region.
Al-Salami added that the new board that was elected three months ago seeks to continue the forum’s glowing successes, most importantly those involving the chamber’s strategic partnership agreement with the World Economic Forum in Geneva. Both forums agreed to strengthen the cooperation to enhance the status of the major Saudi economic event.
Highlighting the role of Saleh Kamel, chairman of the board of directors of JCCI, he said: “Kamel’s personality, that focused on the specialized forums, was behind the success of various such events. The accomplishments of the international Baraka forum held annually for 20 years has positively added to the success of Jeddah Economic Forums.”
The chamber plans to continue holding forums and sessions to discuss unemployment, he said, adding that the chamber, along with other bodies, has a leading role in this area through providing young people job opportunities in the private sector.
“We also putforth plans and visions to find more opportunities for the young men and women,” he added.
The JEF’s first edition took place in 2000 themed steady growth in the global economy, and continued discussing different topics each year such as thinking global and acting local in 2003, achieving an accelerating economic development in 2000, and housing and population growth in 2014.
Al-Salami said that the JCCI included its board members in the executive committee for the first time in JEF’s history. Members of the board of directors include Abdullah Marei Bin Mahfouz, Khalaf bin Hossan Al-Otaibi, Fahad bin Siban Al-Salami, Nassar Ben Awadallah Al-Salami, Saeed bin Mohammed bin Zagrm and Sarah Abdullah Baghdadi.
Chamber’s Secretary General Adnan Mandoura and his deputy Hassan bin Ibrahim Dahlan, and Head of JEF Hena’ bint Mohammad Yasin Maimani also are members of the executive committee.