Good Economic News for Bin Laden

The latest Finance & Development, a quarterly magazine from the IMF is out. The latest issue focuses on Growth. My favorite regulars are People in Economics, Back to Basics, Picture This and Country Focus sections. It struck me that Arab countries have the highest unemployment rates in the world;

Although unemployment fell markedly in developed economies in 2005 to an average of 6.7 percent from 7.1 percent a year earlier, it continued to rise in the former Soviet bloc countries. The Middle East and North Africa have the highest regional rate (13.2 percent), while East Asia has the lowest (3.8 percent).

Let us hear from a well known Arab economist;

"The greatest challenges in the Arab world today are the rate of population growth and the need for increasing financial resources, both for capital investment and social development, to meet the current needs and rising expectations. At an average rate of 2.5 percent a year, population growth is hindering progress in most Arab countries. The demographic challenge is not only about numbers, but more critical is the shortfall in certain required skills and capabilities in all countries. The failure to reform the educational system and adjust to the needs of the marketplace is a real obstacle to the modernization that is necessary for global competition. Growth is hampered, and unemployment and poverty are rising. This is the situation today in most countries, including such oil-rich Gulf countries as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, where the unemployment rate is rising rapidly….The region must create some 50 million new jobs in order to keep unemployment at its present level, and close to 70 million jobs to reach full employment in the next 20 years. ..the Arab Human Development Report 2002 highlighted three deficits that are slowing development in the region: deficits in freedom, in knowledge, and in women’s empowerment. All Arabs would agree that they need to make up these deficits and to overcome other major difficulties that are hampering their development."

Even in areas like internet use they lag far behind; the 22 Arab League members had only 11.7 million Internet users out of a total population of 316 million in 2004. Unless the Arab ruling autocrats can get their act together angry young Arabs will remain fertile ground to gain converts for the cause of fanatics like Bin Laden. With lavish oil money around we cannot know for sure whether another would be Bin Laden is buying up a failed state. May be Arabs need to think hard about the following saying of Prophet Mohammed’s nephew Ali, ‘If God were to humiliate a human being, He would deny him knowledge’.


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This page contains a single entry by Paul published on March 13, 2006 10:43 PM.

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