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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 February 2019

Kuwait tech fund to support Arab youth in the digital economy

The fund will look for funding from governments and private sector companies

Kuwaiti Finance Minister Dr Nayef Al Hajraf, said the fund will help youth pursuing long-term careers. Yasser Al Zayyat / AFP
Kuwaiti Finance Minister Dr Nayef Al Hajraf, said the fund will help youth pursuing long-term careers. Yasser Al Zayyat / AFP

Kuwait’s $200 million (Dh734 million) fund for investments in technology represents the country’s belief that crises in the region can be partly mitigated by investing in youth pursuing careers in the digital economy, Kuwait’s minister of finance said on Sunday.

Dr Nayef Al Hajraf, in an interview with Kuwait’s state-run news agency Kuna, said the fund will look to create jobs in the sector and engage youth in crisis-stricken areas.

“This high-level initiative is also aimed at channelling the necessary and important resources so that Arab youth can create added value in the economies of the Arab countries and their communities,” he said.

Kuwait and Qatar have each pledged $50 million to the fund with sources saying the fund wants the private sector to get on board. It is still unclear if other GCC countries will commit to the initiative set to be handled by Kuwait-based Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development.

Sheikh Sabah Al Khaled, Kuwait’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, said “the private sector plays a pioneering and constructive role in its participation in leading the growth locomotive in the Arab world”.

Minister Sheikh Sabah Al Khaled said on Sunday that the fund’s "primary concern" was to support the digital economy in the Arab world.

“We are all aware of the magnitude of the challenges, the risks we face, the decline in our joint work and our continuous efforts to confront them, but at the same time we are keen to make the priority of development and economic co-operation at the forefront of our concerns so that we can achieve the progress of our peoples,” said Sheikh Sabah Al Khaled.

In 2009, Kuwait launched a $500 million (Dh1.8 billion) fund that helped save 437,000 jobs in the region and financed more than 7,000 Arab-launched initiatives in the post-crash global economy.

Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Abul Gheit on Sunday praised initiatives by Kuwait and Lebanon to establish the fund for technology and digital economy, as well as create an Arab bank for reconstruction.

"I think this summit is the summit of the Arab citizen…because it assigns everyone to serve the citizen in a direct manner," Mr Abul Gheit told a joint news conference with Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun called for the establishment of an Arab bank for reconstruction to contribute to development. Mr Abul Gheit said the Arab League would pursue these initiatives in the next four years until the next summit in Mauritania.

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Updated: January 21, 2019 04:44 PM

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