Bahrain and Oman have the highest unemployment rates in the Gulf, according to research released this week by Dubai-based asset management firm Al Masah Capital.
The report, entitled ‘MENA: The Great Job Rush’, highlighted unemployment rates of 15 percent in each of the Gulf states, compared with just 0.5 percent in neighbouring Qatar.
Oil rich Saudi Arabia, which recently embarked on a nationalisation programme, also revealed high numbers of jobless nationals, which stood at 10.8 percent countrywide.
In Kuwait and Qatar, the problem is less acute with jobless rates of 2.2 percent and 2.4 percent respectively, but remains an issue.
“There is an urgent need [for action]”, said the report.
“Joblessness is a structural problem, particularly among the youth in the region. Short term solutions will not remove problems which took generations to fester. Deep structural changes are required, changes that go to the heart of cultural mentality.”
At a rate of 10.3 percent in the Middle East and 9.8 percent in North Africa, unemployment in the MENA region is the highest in the world.
Though the GCC has slightly less people out of work, with a jobless rate of 4.2 percent overall, populations are only expected to rise further and intensify the problem, experts say.
In Saudi Arabia, unemployment is a particular concern among young people, with 25.9 percent of the Kingdom’s youths stuck at home - almost double the global rate of jobless individuals which stands at 12.6 percent.
According to a World Bank report in 2003, countries in the MENA region will need to create 100 million jobs in the between 2000 and 2020, in order to overcome unemployment.