dubai // The stability of the Arab world depends on an economic revival led by the Gulf states, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the Vice President and Prime Minister and the Ruler of Dubai, said yesterday.
“The major challenges facing the region make it a necessity to implement a clear and executable Arab economic vision,” Sheikh Mohammed said.
His comments come as wars in Yemen, Syria and Iraq batter regional economies and cause thousands of refugees to flee conflict zones.
The Global Peace Index published last week by the Institute for Economics and Peace said regional peace had reached its lowest point since 2008 and the region fell to the bottom of the index for the first time.
“There is a regional need for a real economic and developmental movement, and serious steps must be taken to achieve economic integration in the Gulf to ensure the stability of the whole region,” Sheikh Mohammed said.
He said the Arab world must launch significant economic projects and use its human and natural resources more effectively. “We must address the imbalances of the region in a comprehensive manner, covering economics, politics and security. We must understand that real and sustainable development is the only guarantee for future stability in the Arab world.”
The major oil and gas economies of the Gulf remain less integrated than many other regions because most of their trade is based on exporting hydrocarbons outside the region rather than to each other.
But the sharp decline in the price of oil since last summer has triggered a renewed focus on diversification. The contribution of the non-oil sector to the economy has already reached almost 70 per cent with a target of up to 80 per cent by 2021.
The call for greater economic integration comes ahead of the release of new economic statistics expected this week.
The Government plans to triple spending on research and development over the next six years and boost the national workforce by 185,000.
Sheikh Mohammed said the Government would spend on large infrastructure projects this year to maintain growth after last year’s robust rate of expansion, when inflation-adjusted GDP grew 4.6 per cent.