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MEED: Qatar seeking to mitigate the worst of region’s unemployment 4, July 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Middle East.
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Middle East Economic Digest (MEED) is the preeminent source of news and analysis on Middle East affairs. Its focus is by no means restricted to economic affairs. For anyone wanting to keep up to date with Middle Eastern affairs as a whole, and in particular those looking for harder to get reliable reporting on the smaller countries, MEED is essential.

For example, although I have been studying Qatar specifically and the GCC more generally for some time now, I had not come across Silatech, the Qatari venture to curb unemployment amongst the region’s young men and women. Enter MEED, which, as usual, offers an excellent introduction and analysis. Here are the salient points of Silatech.

– Silatech was established in 2008 by (who else?) Sheikha Moza, the Emir of Qatar’s most outspoken wife.

– “More than 30 per cent of the region’s estimated 320 million population are aged 15-29 and unemployment among this age bracket averages 28 per cent.”

– “The region has the highest rates of youth unemployment anywhere in the world and, with two-thirds of the population still under the age of 24, the challenges are set to multiply in the years ahead.”

– Silatech has a decidedly international approach and is not parochially Qatari in nature.

– “The organisation offers financial and institutional support to youth employment projects across the region. Other than schemes in Qatar, it is initially focusing on projects in Yemen, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia and Jordan. The percentage of 15-29 year-olds not in work or education in these countries ranges from 21 per cent in Jordan to 49 per cent in Yemen.

– “In Bahrain, where unemployment in the 15-29 age group is among the highest in the GCC, at 27 per cent, Shiite youths are regularly involved in violent street clashes with the local authorities.

– “The survey also lends support to the long-suspected belief that some young people in the GCC lack the motivation to work, according to Gallup. “In the Maghreb, Levant, Egypt and East Africa, lack of motivation was not an issue whatsoever,” says Dalia Mogahed, senior analyst at the Gallup Centre for Muslim Studies. They were very motivated and wanted to work. The only place where that came up was in the Gulf, where young people said that one of the reasons they were unemployed was a lack of motivation to work, although a lack of quality work and proper training were more frequent answers.”

– “Most of the schemes that Silatech is supporting are based around a mix of education and retraining centres, which offer people the skills needed by businesses, along with improved access to capital and business support for entrepreneurs.”

– “In June, Silatech agreed to invest $200,000 to set up a microfinance fund with Al-Amal Bank targeted at 18-30 year-olds. It aims to offer loans to more than 800 entrepreneurs over the next two years and estimates this will create 1,000 jobs for young people.”

Elizabeth Bains, MEED