Shaikh Nahyan, Shamma Suhail Faris Al Mazroui and Reem Ebrahim Al Hashemi at International Youth Day celebrations. Image Credit: Arshad Ali/Gulf News

Dubai: High youth unemployment in the Arab world is a threat to peace, a senior UN representative said during the International Youth Day celebration event in Dubai on Wednesday.

Frode Mauring, the resident representative of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), said 105 million young people are “stretched out over areas of war and economic disparity” in the Middle East.

The event was held to celebrate, in advance, International Youth Day, which falls on August 12 annually. This year’s slogan is ‘Youth Building Peace’.

Mauring’s comments followed an inspirational keynote address to around 500 youth by Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development. Shaikh Nahyan is also chairman of the General Authority of Youth and Sports Welfare, which organised the event in cooperation with the UNDP.

Shaikh Nahyan encouraged the youth to avail the opportunities provided to them in the UAE, under the guidance of the UAE leadership.

His remarks were echoed by Shamma Suhail Faris Al Mazroui, Minister of State for Youth Affairs, and Reem Ebrahim Al Hashemi, Minister of State for International Cooperation.

Mauring had singled out the UAE as an “oasis” of peace and prosperity for the youth in a region where many young people feel alienated. In the Middle East, the unemployment rate is 27 per cent, according to the World Economic Forum.

Mauring said: “In many other countries in the region, the youth continue to face economic and political exclusion, social inequality, and that continues to frustrate youth. Think about it: What could make young people become a threat to peace? The answer is lack of hope, lack of a future. I spent a lot of my years in my career in places of conflict. When young people are asked ‘what is the threat to human security for them?’, they are not only pointing to men with guns; they are also pointing to a lack of jobs, a lack of opportunities.”

His comments corroborate findings of the Arab Youth Survey 2017, released in May in Dubai, which said young Arabs believe unemployment is the biggest obstacle facing the Middle East, placing it on a par with the rise of the Daesh terror group.

Analysing the findings, experts had then said there is a correlation between frustrated jobless youth and the rise of extremism.

At Wednesday’s event, held at Intercontinental Festival City, a panel discussion focused on youth empowerment in the public and private sector.

Panellist Karine Antoniades, Creating Shared Value manager at Nestlé Middle East, said: “We are proud to report that we hired 430 youth across the region in 2016 alone, bringing the total number to over 2,000 since 2010.”

She added: “We also aim to amplify our impact through collaborations, which is why we launched the Alliance for Youth in May 2016 to bring together entities that share our objective of tackling the region’s 27 per cent unemployment rate.

“Together, with our nine Alliance partners, we are well on our way to collectively hiring 3,000 young people and impacting 50,000 [people] across the region by 2020.”

‘All 4 Youth’ also includes Bosch, Emaar, General Authority of Youth and Sports Welfare, Engie, LinkedIn, L’Oréal, Mohebi, Nielson, and Publicis Middle East.