The Arab media have been flooded with reports on poverty rates throughout the Arab world, and despite various discrepancies, the consensus is that poverty and unemployment in these nations are threatening their future growth.
A report published by the Arab League and the United Nations Development Program (UNPD) Sunday said that 140 million people were living under the poverty line throughout the Arab world.
Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa, however, recently told a League convention that 65 million people were living under the poverty line throughout the Arab world, and while the discrepancy is large, it may stem from various definitions of the "poverty line."
The poverty line is generally defined as 50% of the median net income and is adjusted to family size.
The 48-page joint report claims the last two decades have seen poverty in the Arab world worsen to about 40% of the population.
The rich Persian Gulf states noted high unemployment rates among young people: Saudi Arabia reported 26% unemployment rate, Kuwait – 23% and Qatar - 17%. Persian Gulf states make up only 13% of the Arab world's population, but they control nearly 50% of its product.
The report further warned that should unemployment worsen and the Arab world fail to produce 51 million jobs within the next 20 years, its entire social fabric may be jeopardized.
Doron Peskin is head of research for Info-Prod Research (Middle East) Ltd