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Riyadh to host development forum

The Ministry of Labor in association with the World Bank and the Arab Labor Organization (ALO) is organizing the 2nd Arab Forum on Development and Employment in Riyadh.
The three-day forum entitled “Toward social protection and sustainable development” will kick start on Feb. 24 with the support of Custodian of Two Holy Mosque King Abdullah, said Hattab bin Salih Al-Enizi, spokesman of the Ministry of Labor on Monday.
He stated that the ministers of finance, labor, social affairs and education from all 21 Arab League member countries will participate in the forum along with representatives from the private sector, trade unions, social insurance and training institutions, civil society and relevant international and regional organizations.
The forum will brainstorm on the challenge of low employment productivity equilibrium in the Arab League countries with discussions focused on market inefficiency and inequity, while exploring strategies to better engage Arab population in economic activity.
“While the Arab League countries have taken many positive steps on the issue of youth unemployment and extending access to social services to all citizens, they recognize that there is still a lot to be done to address unemployment and social exclusion and it is important to understand the underlying layers of exclusion that have produced the world’s highest youth unemployment and lowest female participation rates,” said a World Bank representative here.
He added: “The current employment dynamics are not producing enough good quality jobs, hence there is need for Arab countries to set policies that will promote job creation by ensuring a vibrant formal private sector, relevant educational and skill development programs and the efficient allocation of resources and human talent.”
According to a recent World Bank report, “when women and men participate in economic life on an equal footing, they can contribute their energies to building a more cohesive society and more resilient economy.”
Commenting on the issue, Ahmed Luqman, ALO director general in a statement explained how this forum is a continuation of the first forum convened in Doha 2008, which reflects the ALO’s commitment toward enhancing employment opportunities.
Luqman emphasized that the aim and theme of the forum reflects the ALO and World Bank’s mutual interest in eradicating poverty and decreasing unemployment rates in the Arab League countries.
He, however, urged the forum to “set the grounds for a mutual understanding of the challenges Arab countries face as the basis for a collective commitment toward devising solutions through an integrated and comprehensive development approach.”
The conference will conclude with the release of a joint statement, “the Riyadh Declaration,” carrying the endorsement and commitments of all parties.
The declaration will contain both recommendations for and an appreciation of the value of engaging in comprehensive reforms aimed at building human capital of the poorest and most vulnerable, contributing to economic growth and boosting shared prosperity at the national level across the region.