Recovery of Arab economies accelerating, with projections of hundreds of thousands of new green jobs

Regional Director for Arab States Ruba Jaradat led an ILO delegation to the 49th Arab Labour Conference in Cairo, where she highlighted major labour market dynamics and trends globally and in the Arab region.

Press release | 24 May 2023
CAIRO (ILO News) - The ILO Regional Office for Arab States has participated in the 49th Arab Labour Conference, convened in Cairo, Egypt, by the Arab Labour Organization (ALO).

The Regional Office delegation, led by Regional Director Ruba Jaradat, participated in plenary sessions, met with government, worker and employer representatives from across the region, and held a side event on extending social protection to migrant workers in the region.

Addressing the conference, Regional Director Jaradat highlighted major labour market dynamics and trends globally and in the Arab region.

“The recovery of the Arab States economies is catching up with the global recovery trends, with a 6.6 per cent expected regional growth rate in 2022 and 3.9 per cent for 2023,” Jaradat said, noting that this improvement is mainly taking place in GCC countries. “Meanwhile, non-GCC countries witnessed a relatively higher improvement in the total weekly working hours in 2022 than their GCC counterparts, with the total average for the Arab States region returning to the pre-pandemic levels.”

“High youth and women unemployment rates in the region prevail, nevertheless. Green jobs potential for youth is expanding and which ILO estimates place at 400,000 jobs,” Jaradat added.

The ALO Director-General’s Report on Social Dialogue and the corresponding and proposed New Social Contract, tackle topics that are of critical importance to the successful recovery from the damaging and fast-paced changes affecting the world of work, Jaradat noted.

“This initiative comes in timely as ILO is preparing for the World of Work Summit in June to forge a global coalition for social justice and in line with the UN Secretary General’s call for a new social contract,” she told delegates.

“I also take this occasion to applaud Director General Almutairi and the ALO for their work over the past year, centering on supporting Arab labour markets in absorbing Arab workforce, and above all for their leading role in co-organizing the high-level partners meeting in Amman to garner international support for implementing the first Palestinian National Employment Strategy. This initiative, which brought together 50 countries and organizations and 200 participants, yielded nine agreements and funding for the implementation of the Strategy,” Jaradat said.

Regional briefing on labour migration

While in Cairo, Regional Director Jaradat participated in a separate event held by the ILO and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to brief partners in the Regional UN Network on Migration in the Arab Region.
“Migration for employment is an important dimension of migration in the MENA region. According to ILO estimates on international migrant workers, in 2019 there were over 25 million migrant workers in the Middle East and Northern Africa, hosting 15 per cent of the 169 million migrant workers globally,” Jaradat noted.

“The protection of migrant workers and governance of labour migration is a key part of the ILO’s mandate and mission to realize social justice,” she said.

The Regional Director welcomed the establishment of the Regional UN Network’s Regional Stakeholder Advisory Group. “This development constitutes an important step to support the GCM’s guiding principle of a ‘whole-of-society approach,’ which engages relevant stakeholders such as migrants themselves, local communities, the private sector, trade unions, parliamentarians, civil society and academia to address migration in all its dimensions.”

Jaradat said: “Realization of this principle in practice in the Arab region would contribute significantly to a fairer, rights-based and people-centred migration governance. So, by working closely with the Stakeholder Advisory Group, we hope that together we can make this principle a reality.”

The ILO also held a side event at the 49th Arab Labour Conference, bringing together government, employer and worker stakeholders to share experiences and best practices in extending social protection to migrant workers in the Arab region, and to address matters of social security coordination.