New $2-bn Arab fund to help small enterprises in region

January 19th, 2009 - 5:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Dubai, Jan 19 (IANS) Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah announced Monday a new $2-billion joint Arab initiative to provide and sustain financial resources for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the region.Making the announcement at the opening session of the two-day Arab Economic, Development and Social Summit, which got underway in Kuwait Monday, Sheikh Sabah said that Kuwait would donate $500 million as capital to the new fund.

The new fund, he said, would be managed by the Kuwait-based Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development (AFESD), the state-run Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) reported.

According to Sheilh Sabah, since AFESD, which has a board of trustees representing participating countries, it was best suited for running this new initiative, providing necessary financing tools and guaranteeing sustainability of its operations thus achieve anticipated objectives.

The fund “will be a vital source for enhancing Arab corporate work, and enhancing the role of the Arab private sector”, he said.

The two-day summit in Kuwait is being seen as a major Arab initiative at this time of the global financial crisis.

It is the first-of-a-kind since the establishment of the Arab League, and was first called by the Kuwaiti ruler and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak during the 2007 Arab Summit in Riyadh, and is aimed at setting up a clear roadmap for Arab economy and all related social and developmental issues.

According to observers, the summit may also lead to the formation of a new Arab economic bloc.

The situation in Gaza, where Israeli attacks for over three weeks now have claimed over 1,300 lives, is also on the top of the summit’s agenda.

Leaders of 22 Arab countries will address the summit.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is also attending the summit.

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