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The Arab world should embrace industrialisation to address the growing problem of unemployment in the region, according to industry leaders who participated in the session 'How can the Arab world become a Global Manufacturing Hub', held recently as part of the Global Arab Business Meeting in Ras Al Khaimah.
Speaking at the session, Dr Khater Massaad, CEO of Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority (RAKIA) and RAK Ceramics, said that the Arab world should encourage industrial development and remove barriers for export of manufactured goods within Arab countries.
"The industrial sector is of vital and strategic importance as it provides a way to offer employment to the people," he said. "The fast growing population of the Arab world makes it imperative that there are enough avenues for job creation which can only be achieved by encouraging the manufacturing sector."
Dr Massaad said that the creation of an Industrial Fund for the Arab world would help entrepreneurs meet their financing needs and added that it was important to keep the Arab world a cost-effective destination for industries. He pointed out that the success of RAK Ceramics, which has become the world's largest ceramic manufacturing plant, was a good example for the potential of the country to become a global manufacturing hub.
"Unfortunately we have very weak anti-dumping measures in the Arab world, stretching from Morocco to Dubai," said Abdullah Almoammar, Managing Director, Middle East Paper Company (Mepco), Saudi Arabia.
"Saudi Arabia has not ever imposed any anti-dumping tariff on any product coming to Saudi even as several of its industries are facing difficulties while trying to export to foreign countries. We want to work by WTO standards and have complied with it while many foreign countries where we export to are not keen on implementing them."
He said that there would be around 20mn unemployed citizens in the Arab world by 2025 and the region needs to transform itself to an advanced knowledge deploying industrial society to face the challenge.
Mohammed Al Barwani, Chairman, MB Holding, Oman, said that the Arab world has the opportunity to become a strong player in energy intensive and capital intensive industries.
"It is a pity that we are producing crude and exporting to the world instead of converting crude oil within the Arab world into value-added products," he said and added that the low inter-trade in the Arab world posed a disadvantage for growth of manufacturing sector.