Dubai: There is an urgent need to take steps to facilitate more lending for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the Middle East, participants at a high-level workshop at the World Government Summit said on Sunday.

Around 90 per cent of companies in the region fall under the category of SME, yet only seven per cent of them have access to bank financing.

The workshop on SME Development and Financial Inclusion in the Arab world, which was held shortly after the opening of the government summit, was organised by the UAE Ministry of Finance in collaboration with the International Monetary Fund.

Opened by Obaid Al Tayer, Minister of State for Finance, and Christiane Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, the discussion behind closed doors heard contributions from Arab ministers of finance and central bank governors, including speakers from Bahrain, Algeria, Egypt and Sudan.

Other contributions came from the chairman of the Arab Monetary Fund, the governor of the Kenyan Central Bank and the president of the Croatian Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Also in attendance was the minister of external relations of the British Crown Dependency of Jersey.

Among the UAE participants besides Al Tayer were Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, minister of economy, Mubarak Rashed Al Mansoori, UAE Central Bank governor, and Ahmed Al Sayegh, minister of state and chairman of the Abu Dhabi Global Market.