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The Bigger Challenge! - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has announced the largest budget in its history, however what is worth mentioning with regards to this budget, and away from the details of the [financial] figures that are known to the economists, was the statement by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz that this budget supports human development and job creation. The King also spoke about the need for implementation and supervision. The greatest challenge being faced by Arab countries internally today is that of job creation and supervision, and what is meant by supervision is supervising the implementation [of projects], and putting an end to corruption and price manipulation.

These Arab countries – regardless of which country it is – are unable to provide jobs to all those who desire one, and young people make up around 50 percent of all those unemployed in most Arab countries, and this makes the unemployment rate among young people in Arab countries the highest in the world. It is the duty of Arab states to create jobs, and this is not an easy process, for what is required is not just merely creating jobs, but these must be meaningful jobs that are advantageous to the national economy, rather than just [jobs that] mask unemployment.

This is something that requires real reform of the education system in order to meet the requirements of the market, as well as [the need for] high levels of flexibility in economic legislation allowing for the completion of projects. This issue also includes the urgent need for a creative economy that accepts and supports new ideas, and this does not just mean financial support, but as we have already said, a flexible legislative and judicial system [as well]. This also includes changing social concepts about what is acceptable and not acceptable with regards to employment, and the necessity of working from an early age, such as during high school and university, as well as promoting the concept of volunteer work, and setting an acceptable minimum wage for all business jobs, along with promoting a culture of gradually entering the workforce, for example for a student to work at a restaurant or store whilst at university. There is also the need [to initiate] a strict system for intellectual property rights in order to protect creative ideas on all subjects from fashion and design to technology, all of which requires strict supervision.

Supervision of course does not mean abhorrent governmental bureaucracy, or bickering and increasing social tensions in the media, but what is meant is a responsible and aware supervision by government agencies and the media to ensure the safety and completion of projects, rather than finding faults. What is required is for the governmental and non-governmental supervisory bodies to protect the consumers and others, ensuring the fight against corruption and the speedy completion of projects and protecting the rights of the people and monitoring price manipulation, which is something that flourishes in our Arab countries at various levels.

These are the two dangers that threaten the Arab countries today, and every day that passes without these two issues being addressed represents more difficulty in the future, especially as many Arab countries have experienced a population explosion, with population concentration in the cities, and migration to the countryside. This is something that aggravates the unemployment crisis and development, especially as the Arab Human Development Report published by the Arab League reminds us that the Arab challenge is to provide 51 million new jobs over the next ten years, and this is something that is not easy at all.

Therefore we say that the real danger that threatens Arab countries internally is job creation and the battle for supervision, and these are two things that cannot be neglected

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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