One-third of Arab world’s population is poor

by Zauqi Farooqi
Arab countries

RIYADH

A large population of the Arab world, which looks luxurious from a distance, is struggling with poverty. The ‘large population’ here means about 130 million people. Although some rich countries are not included in this.

A survey released by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) said that one-third of the Arab region’s population is poor. It does not include Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and Libya. The Gulf Cooperation Council is an alliance of six Arab countries that includes the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Bahrain.

The survey expects a further rise in poverty levels over the next two years, reaching 36 per cent of the population in 2024, Xinhua news agency reported. In addition, the Arab region recorded the world’s highest unemployment rate in 2022 at 12 per cent. The survey said that there could be a very slight decrease to 11.7 per cent in 2023, which is due to the post-Covid-19 economic recovery efforts. It expects the region’s economy to grow by 4.5 per cent in 2023 and 3.4 per cent in 2024.

Foreign aid and tourism weakened

Survey head Ahmed Moummi said the GCC and other oil-exporting countries will continue to benefit from higher energy prices, while oil-importing countries will face a range of socio-economic challenges, including rising energy costs, and food supply shortages.

There has been a decline in both tourism and international aid flows to the region. Oil-exporting Arab countries should diversify their economies from the energy sector by investing in projects that generate inclusive growth and sustainable development.

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