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Press conference for the Arab Thought Foundation launching the Sixth Arab Cultural Development Report at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in DIFC. From left, Dr Mounira Al Nahedh, Dr Lana Mamking, Prince Khalid Al Faisal Al Saud, president of the foundation, and Bilal Bdour. Antonie Robertson / The National
Press conference for the Arab Thought Foundation launching the Sixth Arab Cultural Development Report at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in DIFC. From left, Dr Mounira Al Nahedh, Dr Lana Mamking, Prince Khalid Al Faisal Al Saud, president of the foundation, and Bilal Bdour. Antonie Robertson / The National

Arabian Gulf nationals feel unqualified for private-sector jobs, new report shows

The report, compiled by the Arab Thought Foundation, also found that up to 70 per cent of women between the ages of 19 and 24, including those with degrees in Gulf countries, are unemployed.

DUBAI // Most young Arabian Gulf nationals feel they are unqualified for private-sector jobs.

Only 20 per cent of young people in the GCC feel their educational qualifications meet the requirements of jobs with private companies, according to the sixth Arab Cultural Development Report 2013-2014, which was released on Tuesday.

The report was compiled by the Arab Thought Foundation (ATF).

It also found that up to 70 per cent of women between the ages of 19 and 24, including those with degrees in Gulf countries, are unemployed.

Overall, the UAE had the highest rates of unemployment in the GCC among each country’s own citizens, with 14 per cent last year, according to the report – and 24 per cent in the age group of 19 to 25.

The report also stated that unemployment figures in the UAE were not very accurate and that true figures are likely to be higher.

“I was happy that we finally have a detailed report that shows the true state of cultural development in the Arab world but I was saddened by the findings of the report,” said Dr Lana Mamkegh, Jordan’s culture minister.

“It is clear that there is a huge need for improvement,” said Bilal Al Budoor, assistant deputy of Arts and Culture at the UAE Ministry of Culture, Youth and Community Development.

“We must link education with the expectations of the labour market.”

Dr Mounira Al Nahedh, ATF deputy secretary general, said the foundation seeks to answer objectively and based on statistics and field studies the question: “Does the missing integration between education, scientific research, the labour market and development in the Arab countries represent obsession or reality?”

The report has included several case studies that cover Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and the Arab Gulf region, mainly from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Iraq, as well as Tunisia.

A large section of the report has been devoted to the relationship between education and the integration of scientific research and development of the labour market in two prominent GCC countries – Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

“We must change the mentality before implementing strategy,” said Dr Mamkegh.

The UAE ranked fourth out of 125 countries in the number of graduates in the science field and 44 in engineering graduates.

“Very few of these graduate find their way to the private sector,” said Dr Al Nahedh.

The UAE ranked third in the GCC after Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and 42 out of 125 countries in the quality of research institutes, scoring 52 per cent.

“We have scientific research done by universities that are scientific by name alone. There is no way to implement this research of verify its validity for anyone to use,” added Dr Mamkegh.

Using Dubai as an example of development in the Arab world, as it only derives three per cent of its GDP from oil, Saudi prince Khalid Al Faisal, the president of ATF, stressed the need for education reform across the Arab world.

“We have education institutions opening every year in every Arab country but their standards are very low. How can we claim to be modernised and developed countries without education?” he said.

Dr Al Nahedh added: “We hope that this report will be of great assistance to the governments and decision-makers in the Arab countries for the development of strategies and policies that would serve the education, scientific research and labour market to achieve our goals of sustainable development.”

The Arab Thought Foundation has been releasing Arab cultural development reports each year for the past six years.

The reports look at various aspects of development in the Arab world.

malkhan@thenational.ae

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