The general secretary of the Arab League, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, declared Sunday that the Arab world is home to about half of the refugees and displaced persons in the world.
"Just know that about four million Syrian children have left their schools because of the seven-year war," Aboul Gheit said in a Sunday speech at the opening session of the Arab economic and social development summit in Beirut. From Somalia and Yemen, without forgetting the tragic reality that our people in Palestine suffers daily because of Israeli occupation imposed by closure and by the siege and unfair practices ".
He added: "It is enough to know all this to realize that the battle of development in many aspects of our Arab world is not conducted in natural conditions or in a favorable environment, but in difficult conditions and in a fragile environment.
He underlined that the economic growth rates in the Arab region amounted to 2.7% during the current year and are not yet sufficient to achieve the desired development boom.
Aboul Gheit said that "despite the considerable efforts made in recent years in terms of improving the economic situation, particularly in the infrastructure, transport and communications sectors, the Arab region is still far from launching its potential and reaching its aspirations, since more than half of the Arab world's exports are petroleum products ".
"There is a greater need to diversify economies to protect them from the fluctuations associated with energy prices, there is also a need to improve the business environment, increase competitiveness and stimulate entrepreneurship. and entrepreneurship, "he said.
"The region – with few exceptions – does not yet have the sufficient volume of highly productive and high added value economic activity and remains unprepared for engaging in the digital economy (the economy of the future) based on innovation and on creativity, "he said.
"Preparing to face the consequences of this technological revolution should be our priority in the next phase, and it takes more effort to narrow the digital divide with other regions of the world, as more than half of the Arab population is not connected to the Internet" .
"The population of the Arab world is one of the youngest in the world, and if we do not exploit this demographic window, this youth block will turn into a burden for economies and even a motor of unrest and probably a fertile environment for various forms of religious extremism. and politician, "he said.
"The desired growth is human and human and can only be achieved by investing in human beings: education, health, food, clothing, culture and awareness. The key is education, which is the main factor in the construction and accumulation of human capital ".
He stressed that "the Arab world needs a real break with itself in terms of low levels of education and deterioration and more serious, the widening of the gap between education and the labor market and the weak relationship between the results. of education and the needs of global growth ".
Aboul Gheit added that "if we talk about education and results, we should not lose sight of the central role of the educational system and of the media in confrontation with extremist ideology and in the construction of an authentic social conscience that Extremism and extremism in all its forms and manifestations ".
Aboul Gheit said that "accelerating the removal of the greatest number of people from the abyss of extreme poverty is the best way to dry out sources of extremism and terrorism", observing that "about 20% of the population of the Arab world lives in situations under the name of multidimensional poverty, which is measured not only as indicators Income, but opportunities for education, health care and living conditions. "
He stressed that "the Arab countries have achieved, in total, considerable successes in reducing extreme poverty, but a significant mass of the population in a number of Arab countries is still centered around him".
He stressed that the negotiation of the Great Arab Free Trade Area is approaching its goal, noting that "about 95% of the detailed rules of origin have been completed and it is hoped that this integrated economic system, including the liberalization of trade in services , be completed as soon as possible. "He said.
"It is not acceptable that trade between our countries remains at their current rates, which do not exceed 12% of the total trade of Arab countries, and it is not acceptable that the Arab region remains the least global in terms of economic integration , with all the possibilities offered by this integration to promote Arab economies and help diversify its activities ".
"The topics on the agenda for this summit include a series of initiatives, projects and programs on economic integration, and we all expect these initiatives to be implemented to bring us closer to the path of Arab economic integration."
The summit on Arab economic and social development was inaugurated on Wednesday in the Lebanese capital Beirut, in the midst of the absence of presidents and princes of the Arab countries.