Tech-driven job losses a major challenge for Arab region

Arab League Secretary-General warns of job displacement from Fourth Industrial Revolution
Non-specialised workers stand to lose their jobs in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, says Ahmed Aboul Gheit. (KHALIL MAZRAAWI/AFP/Getty Images)
Non-specialised workers stand to lose their jobs in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, says Ahmed Aboul Gheit. (KHALIL MAZRAAWI/AFP/Getty Images)

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Job displacement created by emerging technologies in the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution' is a significant challenge that will be faced by the Arab World in the future, according to Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit.

During a keynote address at the Arab Thought Foundation's FIKR16 conference in Dubai, Gheit said that "we are in the age of a huge industrial revolution that will change rules of politics, economics and societies, but with every revolution comes winners and losers and among the victims are those non-specialised workers who will lose their jobs."

Gheit noted that he believes that Arabs "missed" previous industrial revolutions, leading them to fall victim to "backwardness and colonisation", adding that Arab societies should work to "utilise" the outcome of emerging technologies and make them a priority.

In his remarks, Gheit also warned against the misuse of social media, which he says has had a destabilising effect on political processes in some parts of the world where they fomented distrust of political, religious and social institutions.

"In the West and Arab world, many elections were as a result of such misuse of social media and it did not contribute to reinforcing democracy but to lies and chaos which we need to address," he said.

"We have to learn how to coexist, otherwise, countries will seize to exist and collapse."

Among those in attendance at the FIKR16 conference was His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

"We are pleased with this gathering of thinkers and leaders, and our message to them is to employ their science, knowledge and efforts to develop our communities and maintain our Arab civilisation," he said.

"Change requires us to unify our efforts in every area, to serve the future of our nation and achieve sustainable stability and prosperity."

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