The Arab Economic Forum held its second annual conference, last Thursday (10/3) in Dabbah Hall in Deir al-Assad. This year, the conference dealt with the economy of the Arab community in terms of its growth, opportunities for revitalization, and the challenges surrounding it. The conference was attended by a large number of Arab businessmen, initiators and representatives of leading development companies in the financial and business sectors.

Guests of honor also participated in the conference, most notably the President of the State, Isaac Herzog (recorded speech), the Governor of the Bank of Israel, Prof. Amir Yaron, the Chairman of the Higher Follow-up Committee for Arab Public Affairs, Muhammad Baraka, the Chairman of the National Committee for Local Authorities, Mudar Younis, and the Chairman of the Joint List, Ayman Odeh, Knesset representatives, and heads of local authorities, Mr. Samir Hulileh and Mr. Ibrahim Barham from the Palestinian Trade Center Administration, and the Director General of the Arab American University offices in the West Bank, Dr. rooster unleashed.

The conference, which was held in partnership with Calcalist newspaper and the Economic Development Authority, began with a welcoming speech from the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Arab Economic Forum, Professor Issa Khoury, in which he said that the conference discusses issues related to economic growth and improving the status of Arab society economically, by highlighting Its vital and urgent issues and proposing solutions to them on the one hand, and focusing on strategic directions on the other hand.

The conference is held this year, after a break in the period of the outbreak of the Corona pandemic, to constitute the largest and most comprehensive forum for stakeholders in economic and development issues in the Arab society, as it attracts academic elites, representatives of government institutions, the private business sector from the Arab and Israeli society, manufacturers and trade unions, as well as politicians and decision-makers. In ministerial offices and local authorities.

Only 36% of Arab women integrate into the labor market

The conference shed light on the challenges facing members of the Arab community to integrate into the labor market through a keynote lecture by the Governor of the Bank of Israel, Prof. Amir Yaron, where he touched on, among other things, the segment of women, as recent data for the year 2020 indicate that the percentage of Arab women in the labor market does not exceed 36. % compared to 82% of women in Israeli society. It is evident from the study conducted by the Bank of Israel that one of the most important reasons contributing to the increase in gaps is the lack of societal awareness regarding the importance of integrating Arab women into the labor market. Work for Arab women. The study also indicated that the percentage of Arab men in the labor market until 2020 amounted to 69%, compared to 86% for men in Israeli society.

Challenges and obstacles

The conference discussed a number of challenges and obstacles that Arab youth face in integrating into the labor market, as the Bank of Israel study showed that the first obstacle is the deterioration of the education system, which suffers from a very poor infrastructure and appropriate educational climate, as is the case in Israeli society, and this is reflected negatively in The performance and academic achievement of the Arab student, whether in the pre-university or post-university stages, as the data issued in 2018 indicate that the percentage of Arab students in the “high-tech” sector amounted to 12%, while the percentage of Arab students in the higher education track is 17%, and the percentage of those with a certificate Bagrut, which qualifies them to enter the university, is 18%.

Only 30% of young Arabs speak Hebrew at a high level

One of the most prominent challenges facing the people of the Arab community is the Hebrew language skills, as the data issued by the Bank of Israel in 2020 indicate that only 30% of the children of the age group (20-24) are proficient in the Hebrew language at a high level, which stands as an obstacle to the percentage. Great to engage in the Israeli labor market that requires high skills in the Hebrew language.

The conference included dialogue sessions to discuss burning and urgent issues in Arab society, with representatives of economic companies, businessmen, researchers, academics, and decision-makers.

Government resources and how to benefit from them

The first session was entitled “The state’s resources, are they for all its citizens?”, In which the government’s economic plan was discussed, and the mechanisms for benefiting from it and transforming it from budgets into business projects. The guests of the session were; Attorney Mudar Younis, Head of the National Committee for Arab Local Authorities, Ms. Nariman Suleiman, from the “Binfsi” Foundation, and Mr. Sami Lahyani, from the Economic Development Authority in the Arab Community. The session was moderated by Ms. Suzan Hassan Daher.

The credit market.. Opportunities and challenges

The second session was titled “The Credit Market in the Arab Society, Between Opportunities and Challenges.” The most prominent guests of the session were the Superintendent of Banks, Yair Avidan, in addition to the Head of the Capital Market Authority, Insurance and Savings. The session was moderated by lawyer Fayyad Tmeish from the office of Fisher.

The field of high-tech is an economic lever worthy of consideration

The third session discussed the technology sector and entrepreneurship between the existing reality and the desired hope in our Arab society. It was attended by a group of entrepreneurs, workers and influencers in the high-tech sector, and the session was moderated by Mr. Khalil Shawahneh.

Money and ways to drain the sources of the black market

The fourth session discussed the topic of “money in the service of organized crime in Arab society.” Participants in the session proposed alternatives and ways to get out of this quagmire by establishing economic initiatives and projects that provide many job opportunities and cut off the black market. Among the most prominent attendees were the former General Manager of the Bank of Israel, Mr. Hezi Kalu, and Mr. Dror Matityahu, partner attorney in the Fischer office. The press session was moderated by Samira Haj Yahya.

Arab and Palestinian environment and economic exchange

The fifth session dealt with the issue of regional trade with neighboring countries, trade exchange and regional cooperation and how to benefit from it economically. Among the most prominent participants in the session were Mr. Samir Huleileh from the Palestinian Trade Center Administration, and Mr. Samir Khoury from SK Engineering. It was moderated by journalist Dania Massalha.

Closing speech of the Forum Administrator

The conference concluded with a speech from the Director of the Arab Economic Forum, Dr. Sami Miari, in which he thanked the attendees for participating in the conference, said that the Arab Economic Forum has set its sights on developing the economy in Arab society, bridging gaps through the establishment of economic and development projects, and networking with the concerned authorities locally and regionally. Dr. stressed. Miari emphasized the importance of implementation in addition to planning and recommendations in professional conferences and meetings, where he reviewed part of the achievements of the economic forum in addition to organizing and unifying Arab businessmen under one umbrella. In the prosperity and growth of the economy of the Arab community.

Conference recommendations

The participants in the conference recommended several important points in order to work on bridging gaps and overcoming obstacles in all sectors, the most prominent of which are:

Supporting and developing what the Economic Forum had begun to do since its inception, which is to enhance joint work with businessmen, decision-makers and official government agencies in a continuous and strategic manner.

Work more on promoting the concept of financial education and financial inclusion, and establishing projects in this context in the Arab society.

Establishing a professional body that includes people with competencies and experiences in order to transform the budgets of the government economic plan into programs and projects on the ground to bridge the gaps that the Arab community suffers from.

Further advancement of the information technology sector (HITEC) by unifying efforts to build a comprehensive and joint plan for frameworks affecting the work environment, and moving towards building technological initiatives and projects that enhance community awareness towards this sector on the one hand, and contribute to creating job opportunities on the other hand.

Employing economic projects and initiatives to combat violence and crime, block the way to go to the black market to take loans, and combat the phenomenon of “fraternity.”

Enhancing joint cooperation and exchanging experiences with industry leaders and decision makers in the West Bank and neighboring countries in all sectors.

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