GCC told to invest more in ‘education, human resources’

Conference discusses Future of UAE National Industry at Sharjah Expo Centre

Gulf News

Dubai/Sharjah: Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries should be investing more in education and human resources to ensure sustainable economic development, according to the Qatar-based Gulf Organisation for Industrial Consulting (GOIC).

Speaking at ‘The Future of UAE National Industry’ conference at the Sharjah Expo Centre, Abdul Aziz Bin Hamad Al Aqueel, from GOIC, said improvements were needed in Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman.

He said Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain need more human capital but mostly need to improve human resources.

According to the recent figures from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Kuwait’s unemployment level sits at 3.4 per cent and Oman’s is 24.4 per cent. Recent figures from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) put Bahrain’s unemployment at 15 per cent.

Since 2010, GCC governments have increased recruitment levels in mainly government-related offices, resulting in a decrease in unemployment levels for some countries.

Dr Laila Dhiyab Ishrer, GOIC, said GCC countries should follow similar lines of education investments that have been made by Finland, South Korea, and Singapore.

Government support

She said that significant investments in education were needed to develop knowledge-based industries and that the government, not the private sector, was responsible for supporting these industries.

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the knowledge-based economy is marked by increasing labour market demand for more highly skilled workers.

In a recent announcement, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, said Dh9.7 billion would be allocated to education in the 2014. Shaikh Mohammad reportedly said the figure accounted for almost 21 per cent of the total budget.

Ishrer said the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia were already making significant investment in knowledge-based industries but that they, and the other GCC countries, should continue to attract leading international campuses.

The UAE currently houses international campuses from New York University, Paris-Sorbonne, and University of Wollongong in Dubai, among a number of other international education institutions. Texas A&M University at Qatar and Qatar University (QU ) recently signed a agreement with Qatar Petrochemical Company (Qapco) to host the annual Materials Science and Engineering Symposium.

‘The Future of UAE National Industry’ conference runs until Tuesday, December 10, and opened alongside the first inaugural ‘Made in UAE’ exhibition.