Saudi Arabia gears up for the third Arab economic forum

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Arab leaders from various countries arrived to Riyadh on Sunday to participate in the third Arab Economic and Social Development Summit kicking off in the kingdom on Monday.

The Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal said the two-day summit will break tradition and tackle the people's hopes in the wake of the Arab Spring uprisings.

"The Arab world has faced these past two years upheavals of a political dimension... but we cannot ignore their economic dimension," he added.

The minister stressed the summit must look into "the problems and issues that concern the lives of our people. We must meet the aspirations of the people."

Poverty, unemployment and social inequalities were just some of the causes that triggered a Tunisian uprising in late 2010. This later spread across the Arab world hitting Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain and most of all Syria.

However, experts warned the Arab world risks losing the fragile gains which came about after the revolutions, which ousted iron fist dictators out of Yemen, Libya and Egypt.

A recent economic report claims unemployment in 2011 stood at 16 percent in Arab countries where 17 million people out of 300 million are jobless, according to AFP.

At the same time inter-Arab investments stood at a mere 25 billion dollars across the region.

The summit in oil-rich Saudi Arabia is expected to discuss the amendment of an Arab convention on investments a bid to bolster the role of the private sector, the minister said.

Talks in Riyadh may also examine the means of drawing up new financial resources to support impoverished Arab states, he added.

The International Monetary Fund first deputy managing director David Lipton told Tunisian businessmen in November that Arab countries in transition should push for reforms, encourage investment, boost productivity and create jobs.

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