DUBAI // US president Barack Obama has praised the UAE Government’s commitment to the welfare of its people, saying that America is proud to be its partner.
Speaking by video link at the opening of the World Government Summit in Dubai on Monday, Mr Obama said countries that lacked such commitment to their people eventually fall into turmoil, citing the regional upheavals during and since the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011.
“As we’ve seen in the tumult across the Middle East and North Africa, when governments do not lift up their citizens, it’s a recipe for instability and strife,” said the US leader.
“When governments truly invest in their citizens, their education and health, and when universal human rights are upheld, countries are more peaceful, more prosperous and more successful.
“Here in the UAE, your commitment to e-government and innovation has improved how you deliver services like health care, empowered entrepreneurs and advanced clean energy.
“And the US, including our private sector, is proud to be your partner. It is a model of collaboration we need in all our countries.”
Mr Obama also said that the US and the UAE could work together to ensure that their young people receive education that prepares them to participate in the global economy.
There are economic and human-rights benefits from having countries commit to the rule of law and accountable governance, said Mr Obama.
“[That] makes it easier for entrepreneurs to collaborate and turn their ideas into reality,” he said.
Also speaking at the summit yesterday, Jose Angel Gurria, secretary general of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development warned that the high jobless rates of youths in the Middle East caused many young people to become suspicious of those governing them.
Youth unemployment rates have shot up to 31 per cent in Libya, 39 per cent in Egypt and 38 per cent in the Palestinian territories.
“It is the curse of modern times and the very painful legacy of the crisis,” said Mr Gurria.
With more than 700 million people living on less than two dollars a day and 15 million people displaced in the Middle East and North Africa, the answer was inclusive governance, said the president of the World Bank Group, Jim Yong Kim, at the summit.
“Three things have been critical to reducing poverty: inclusive economic growth, investment in people’s health and insuring people against the risk that can plunge them back in poverty,” said Dr Kim.
“Shaping future governments so they deliver on these responsibilities is our shared responsibility and essential to ending extreme poverty by 2030 and to boost shared prosperity.
“Now is the time for even greater ambition for the Middle East and North Africa.
“We must act much quicker in response to humanitarian crises and find ways to bring knowledge from developed organisations to improve refugee lives soon after they arrive in the host country –not years later. We must respond to the fierce urgency of the now.”