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Tue 22 May 2012 03:19 PM

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More than 1/4 of Arab youths jobless - study

ILO investigation finds rampant unemployment among youths, projected to get worse

More than 1/4 of Arab youths jobless - study
Regional unrest is a major contributor to youth unemployment (AFP/Getty Images).

More than a quarter of youths in the Middle East and North Africa are unemployed, according to a new report published by the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

The Global Employment Trends For Youth study showed that the rate of joblessness among those aged between 15 and 24 years old hit 26.5 percent in the Middle East by end of 2011 and 27.9 percent in North Africa.

On a global basis, 12.6 percent of youths were unemployed at the end of last year.

According to the ILO, the number of youths out of work in the region has been increasing since 2009 and has been exacerbated by the political and economic upheaval created during the Arab Spring, which has toppled several governments in MENA.

“In North Africa, the youth unemployment rate has increased sharply following the Arab Spring, rising by almost five percentage points between 2010 and 2011 and adding to an already very high level of youth unemployment in this region as well as the Middle East,” the report read.

By 2016, unemployment among youths is forecast to reach 29 percent in the Middle East. However, the study predicted that those out of work in North Africa would actually fall to 26.7 percent.

The ILO report also highlighted a significant gender disparity among youth employment in the region.

In both the case of Middle East and North Africa, more than 40 percent of females aged between 15 and 24 years old were out of work, which the report attributed to a mix of “economic conditions [and] institutional factors such as broader societal values, culture and norms”.

The ILO investigation also highlighted the potential impact of “social discontent and instability” on future rates of employment among Arab youths.

“The regions under greatest threat include the Middle East and North Africa [and] parts of Asia...  One of the most obvious manifestations of these findings is the increasing number of street demonstrations and protests observed worldwide since 2010, which have been closely linked to the Arab Spring and European sovereign debt crises,” the report noted.

jay 7 years ago

its simple the government give huge rises to government workers and so the youth have a live off parents attitude they are handed everything or work for the government in a job for life they dont want to work in the private sector as they cant do 5 or 6 day weeks 48hr like the expats
generally its attitude they expext to be given jobs instead of earning them
they dont turn up are absent without leave are shadow workers to keep kuwaitisation happy and in some case get paid for staying at home

Toby 7 years ago

Yes Jay you are correct. This attitude is the very opposite of the way we were raised: "You are responsible for everything that happens in your life, everything, so get on your bike and get a job!"


Dear all,

Arab Youths are the Younger generations of Arabs. They need not work ( On the other hand they should set up their Own Business) The Government is providing all the Financial and Educational and Professional guidance to them. Only they should approach the concern department and get it organized.
If they do this they will the Owners of some kind of Business and they can employee few and gradually many..
They should not think of Service / Employee Industry. They should think of becoming a Business man.. from small to grow Big.
If you start some thing you will always grow.. My good suggestions to all Younger Generation Arabs are to start some kind of Business which they are interested in.. They will be successful.. Regards and God Bless the Arab Youths in all Arab Countries..

leo50 7 years ago

Selwin, even if your comments are only addressed to UAE Arab youth you are way out of line. On a larger perspective, what financial, educational and professional guidance are the Arab youth of Egypt and many other Arab states getting? None!

Arab youth, the same as youth all over the world should seek employment at any level they can gain entrance to and then work their way up in whatever discipline they find themselves. Once you have job and earn money, this gives the opportunity to look for better employment prospects. Not hanging around unemployed waiting for handouts that never materialise.

Doug 7 years ago

Selwin, very few people ever start a business without having some sort of experience at working as an actual employee somewhere. Most great business leaders and entrepreneurs started out as low-level employees of other firms. I wouldn't trust a business leader who'd never properly worked before - they can't be expected to understand things like people management skills, business acumen etc.

However, I think it's also ridiculous to lump unemployment in the Middle East with that in the Gulf. The reasons why nationals in the Gulf are out of work are completely unrelated to unemployment in North Africa and the Levant, and arguably less significant.

Kohinoor 7 years ago

Sweet coated attempt to bring out the local wealth and distribute among few to hang a "Business for Sale"??? Sounds like Chamcha...

nandakumar 7 years ago

It is amusing to read your asinine remarks and pontifications, without so much of an idea as to whom the term 'Arab Youth' refers to.
But I guess your enlightenment with regard to the plight of Arab Youth is limited to the hapless ones in the UAE.
So much for making sweeping statements and barking up the wrong tree.
If you really want people to follow you statements - make them few and far between

David 7 years ago

Its ok, we are all accustomed to some comments which are aimed at sycophancy rather than anything constructive. Any comment who, out of sycophancy claims that Saudi taxi drivers drive "very good" shouldnt be taken seriously. In fact it is always a microsm of life here: where there always people whose feedback is restricted to sycophancy in hope of a few crumbs!

RBB 7 years ago

I am an employer in the Arab world and would definitely think twice of hiring Arab youth. With past experiences, they do not want to work. They do the bare minimum and are very often late or absent from work.

Apart from the above, they have tendency to lie and are never doing what they are supposed to. Not to mention, they do not like to follow company policies and are resistent to providing you with the reports needed to keep the company growing. You are usually left in the dark and a captain can't steer a ship if he is blind!

Roger That 7 years ago

RBB - from what you say you've made the small error of hiring ex bankers. You might find that other groups are better.