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Not your average brain drain

Not your average brain drain

The Arab World continues to suffer from staggering unemployment rates. Are regional governments doing enough to curb the region’s brain drain?

December 8, 2009 10:28 by

In November 2008 in Kuwait, where expats account for nearly 95 percent of the private workforce, the country raised the mandatory quota for national labor in private institutions in a number of industries, while in February 2009 the Ministry of Labour of the UAE issued a decree regulating the termination of Emirate nationals in the private sector. According to Arabian Business, a large number of private companies in Kuwait have failed to meet the new quota on employment for nationals.

Migration and Brain Drain

Whereas the West sees youth as an asset, in the Arab world they are perceived as a burden, as most educated youth end up leaving their home countries, causing a “brain drain” and the loss is resulting in a drop of the region’s intellectual capacity.

An Arab League study released in March 2008 shows that the annual migration has increased dramatically in the past few years numbering about 70,000 per year. Considering the average of 300,000 new university graduates, the figure equals to about a quarter of the Arab world’s educated base, estimating the cost to Arab economies to be more than $1.5 billion.

For some professions, the numbers are much higher: 50 percent of doctors emigrate to Europe, the United States and Canada; 23 percent of engineers; and 15 percent of scientists leave the region. The study states that 54 percent of Arab students who left their home countries do not return after studying overseas.

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