ARAB WORLD: Tackling graduate unemployment

To develop entrepreneurship and promote technological development in the 22 Arab states as a means of tackling graduate unemployment, the United Arab Emirates organised a science investment forum.

The 7th edition of the Investing in Technology Forum was held under the theme Establishing a regional integrated system for innovation last month in Dubai. It was organised by Dubai Silicon Oasis in collaboration with the Arab Science and Technology Foundation.

The aim was to promote entrepreneurship by supporting a regionally integrated innovation system and contributing to the development of a knowledge-based economy in the Arab world.

The forum considered the best ways to ensure an integrated Arab system for technology as well as encouraging the setting up of venture capital firms.

"Supporting entrepreneurship requires the combined efforts of three different sectors - the government, multinational companies and the Arab community," said forum President Abdullah Abdul Aziz Al Najjar.

"This will lead to building a knowledge-based community that represents the three sides of a vital triangle symbolising science, technology and innovation, supported by investment financing and the Arab governments."

The forum heard of 26 creative and innovative projects from Arab states covering a wide variety of technology areas, ranging from information and communication to health. This was intended to promote matchmaking between investors and entrepreneurs.

"Our objective is to spread entrepreneurial culture and self-employment among young Arabs and assist people who have creative and innovative ideas that could mature into promising technology companies," Al Najjar said.

Unemployment in the Arab world has reached 14% and the number of jobless is estimated at 17 million, many of them university graduates, according to Arab Labour Organisation figures for 2008.