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'Opportunity for All' Conference in Marrakesh Calls for Overcoming Arab Economic Challenges

'Opportunity for All' Conference in Marrakesh Calls for Overcoming Arab Economic Challenges

Tuesday, 30 January, 2018 - 08:30
Jihad Azour, director of the IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia department (AFP)

Director General and Chairman of the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development Abdul Latif Yousef Al-Hamad called on experts, economists, decision-makers, the private sector, academics and civil society organizations to come up with creative solutions to the economic challenges facing the Arab region.

His remarks came during the Opportunity for All Conference, which is organized by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Marrakesh, Morocco in cooperation with the Moroccan Government.

The two-day conference aims at discussing the means to promote comprehensive development in the Arab World and bolster the implementation of Arab sustainable growth.

Al-Hamad noted that the conference would provide a unique opportunity to exchange experiences and ideas on how to create millions of jobs by exploring the potential of the region to stimulate overall growth.

He also underlined the importance of encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation, embracing transparency and technology and designing government policies that act as agents to stimulate growth.

Jihad Azour, director of the Middle East and Central Asia Department at the IMF, said: “The Arab region faces enormous challenges, but it has managed to maintain its economic stability despite the extremely difficult circumstances.”

“We must work to realize the hopes and aspirations of Arab youth looking for the future, and to develop economic policies that allow the creation of jobs and reduce social distortions,” he added.

Azour stressed that reforms were the key to tackling the fundamental problems in many countries of the region due to low growth rates and high unemployment and corruption.

While noting that unemployment rate in the Arab region has reached 10% - the highest rates in the world – the IMF regional director emphasized that the region needed to improve levels of growth, which he said was the responsibility of the youth and the private sector, as governments were not able to be the sole employer of the community.

He also said that more attention should be paid to the role of women in the Arab society and to the importance of giving them the opportunity to enter the labor market. He said in this regard that women faced three times the problems men face in accessing the job market.

“Giving women the opportunity to work generates a large economic return in the short and medium term, creating 4% growth rates in GDP,” Azour said.

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