Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 13 December 2019

Youth should be at the front of development, say Arab leaders

Young people have an unrivalled understanding of new tech, it was said

Secretary-general of Arab League Ahmed Aboul Gheit. EPA
Secretary-general of Arab League Ahmed Aboul Gheit. EPA

The Arab world needs to tap into and support the youth if it is to press on with development and prosperity, two Middle East leaders said at the Arab British Economic Summit in London.

Arab League secretary general Ahmed Aboul Gheit said there was a strong demand for work from young people that needed to be met.

While Gulf Co-operation Council chief Abdullatif Al Zayani believes technological advancements among the Arab youth meant they were best placed to reap the benefits.

Mr Zayani said the “young and growing population” has become “a genuine asset to our region”.

“If our societies can harness the energy and resourcefulness of our young people then they can lead us into a vibrant new world with technologies and possibilities we could not have dreamed of a few years ago, but which to them are second nature,” he said.

Mr Gheit said there was a “strong demand for employment” that was “so pressing” for Arab societies to move forward.

Mr Zayani said it was vital to instil in young men and women the spirit of innovation, entrepreneurship and leadership, and the knowledge of science and emerging technologies.

“Only then will our nations be able to compete globally in this new era,” he added.

Both men underlined the importance of sustainable development, with Mr Zayani saying it was one of the most pressing issues impacting everyone's lives.

Despite some rifts in the GCC, he said the bloc's vision remained the same: to enhance prosperity in the political, economic, social and security fields.

The London summit operates with the intention of "a shared vision".

Both leaders said the Arab region and the UK had much to learn from each other, with Mr Gheit saying Brexit presented a wonderful opportunity for “Britain to extend their hands”.

Mr Zayani said solid co-operation were crucial in the areas of defence and security, and in the concerted effort to combat radicalisation, illegal trade in narcotics and human trafficking.

Mr Gheit briefly touched on water shortages affecting parts of the Middle East during the summer months.

He accused Israel of “preventing Palestinians from enjoying and using their water,” specially mentioning water underground.

The Arab League chief also claimed that Israel was preventing farmers using water for agriculture in the Golan Heights.

Updated: July 3, 2019 04:55 PM

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