AMMAN, May 20 (Xinhua) -- The World Economic Forum (WEF) on the Middle East and North Africa started Saturday with calls for increased support for the youth and addressing unemployment and poverty.
Officials during the forum at the Dead Sea said providing financial and moral support to the youth in the Middle East and reforming education were key in addressing the pressing challenges facing the region.
With high unemployment rate, fast population growth, political regional challenges and spread of radical movements that are relentlessly seeking to thrive on the hopelessness and despair of the young generation, providing hope and support are vital for the youth in the region, said the forum which attracted more than 1,100 political and business leaders from more than 50 countries.
"What Arab youth want is what youth everywhere want: a fair chance, a chance to be heard, a chance to make a difference. What is unique to Arab youth, though, is a yearning and thirst that I have not seen anywhere else. Perhaps, that's because our dire circumstances make us cling more tightly to hope," Crown Prince Hussein of Jordan said at the forum.
He said what young people need most is for all to take a bet on them, and to support them, morally and financially, so they can create their own impact. They need your help to advance and scale their projects, so they can see for themselves the difference they can make.
"Our young people need a region-wide support system for opportunity, access, and hope. That's why your partnership is so vital," he added.
Participants said as 31 percent of young people in the region are unemployed, new initiatives and urgent actions are needed. When a skilled talent is present, particularly educated women, he or she is not being deployed effectively in the workforce.
King Felipe VI of Spain stressed the need to join forces to address common challenges in fields of security, economy and others.
"We cannot isolate the threats nor the challenges we face, nor can we deal with them on our own," the Spanish king said. "We should really move ahead and find more powerful and adequate ways of also sharing our prosperity, to cooperate more efficiently in economic and social development."
He highlighted the key role of education in addressing challenges, calling for working together with the whole world and friends in the Middle East and North Africa to rise up to the challenges and seize the opportunities.
Iraqi President Fouad Masoum referred to recent successes by the Iraqi army in defeating terrorists, saying combating terrorism and alleviating poverty and unemployment should go hand in hand.
"Education, I believe, is the best way to combat poverty ... The reconstruction of Iraq should also be through social and economic development," said the Iraqi president at the forum.
He stressed that investments and development were key to realizing sustainable development goals.
President of Niger Mahamadou Issoufou called for coordinated efforts and increased collaboration in the fight against terrorism and criminal activities.
He called for increased aid by the donor communities, stressing education as key for addressing the plethora of challenges facing the region.
Creating jobs, he said, was key to limit the number of migrants of who die while trying to leave to other countries via the desert and across the Mediterranean.