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Education in the Arab world must give priority to tourism and services sectors

United Arab Emirates: Thursday, March 12 - 2009 @ 12:12

Mr Abdllatif Y Al-Hamad, Director General and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, told a panel discussion at the Wharton Global Alumni Forum in Dubai that with tourism and services collectively representing 35% of the region’s workforce, education and training must focus on these sectors.

He was one of the panelists on the ‘New and Unexpected Challenges and Opportunities for Education, Culture and Media in the GCC.’

Unequivocal in his views about the quality of the educational system in the region, he said that currently schools and universities do not inculcate the culture of innovation, free thinking and work ethic. More than 70% of the university students are in ‘liberal arts’ which contribute little to building the economy.

He said that the GCC region has achieved strong labour mobility over the past years but the critical challenge is to meet potential unemployment levels. “We have to create 100 million new jobs by 2020,” said Mr Al-Hamad, which can be achieved only through quality education. He said there are only 330 universities in the Arab world, and not one of them is in the top 150 global ranking.

Mr Abdulaziz Ibrahim Al-Mahmoud, Chief Editor, Al-Arab newspaper, highlighted the trends in the media, and warned that recessionary trends could force the media to toe the government line. He said the print media is faced with the five daggers of ‘advertisers, budget constraints, tribal and family relations, press laws and newspaper ownership patterns’ which constrain their freedom.

Mr Nabil Ali Alyousuf, Director-General, The Executive Office of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, presented an overview of the education sector in Dubai and the concerted efforts being made to strengthen research and bring in curricula that help students develop job-specific skill sets. Sir Paul Judge, Chairman, Schroder Income Growth Fund Plc, London, said the GCC governments must take initiatives to meet the huge requirements for teaching posts. Professor N. Bulent Gultekin, Associate Professor of Finance, The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, was the moderator of the session.

The Wharton Global Alumni Forum will conclude on March 12, and is being held at Grand Hyatt, Dubai. Lead sponsors are Agility, M. H. Alshaya Co., Dubai Holding, Amwal Al Khaleej and Booz & Co. Event sponsor is National Bank of Kuwait (NBK).

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Thursday, March 12- 2009 @ 12:12 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.

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