Dr. Bandar Mohammad Hajjar, Chairman of the Islamic Development Bank Group, discussed with Ms. Elisabetta Martini, the Italian Consul-General in Jeddah, at IDB headquarters in Jeddah means of enhancing cooperation between IDBG and Italy in the areas of socioeconomic development, combating poverty, illegal immigration, addressing refugee-related issues, and supporting SMEs. Italy’s desire to learn about Islamic financing and to benefit from IDB’s experience in that field was also discussed during the meeting.
Dr. Hajjar stated that the immigration problem is essentially rooted in poor economic development and lack of employment opportunities, which push immigrants into risking their lives to relocate to the west in a quest for a better life. He stressed that cooperation between multilateral development banks and various states and international organizations and institutions concerned with development issues must focus on means of providing the youth with job opportunities in countries that suffer the problem of population immigration. He added that IDBG works in this regards towards forging partnerships with all concerned parties to address this problem. Dr. Hajjar explained that providing employment opportunities for citizens in their home countries must be the focus of governments, the private sector, and the not-for-profit sector.
African Population to Double by 2050
As an example, he indicated that the population of the African continent is close to a billion people whereas many countries in the continent suffer systemic problems in the areas of infrastructure and energy, in addition to poor investments and poor investment-attractive legislative environments. All this has a direct impact on the scarcity of jobs and induce the urge to immigrate westwards. He mentioned that the population is increasing and that the inhabitants of the African continent will double by 2050. Unless the systemic problems of the economy are addressed expediently, the immigration problem will only get worse and will become a real threat to western economies and to the welfare of their populations, who will hence have to share their livelihood opportunities with immigrants. Dr. Hajjar emphasized that IDB stands fully willing to provide all its expertise in the area of Islamic banking and to help Italy adopt the Islamic financial model. He further stated that IDB intends to hold a special forum on Islamic banking in the near future, and that it will consider the possibility of holding it in Italy to help them adopt this model of financing.
On her part, Ms. Martini stressed the importance of collaboration to address those challenges. She also said that the Italian government, the Italian Development Agency, and other relevant parties wish to cooperate with IDB towards addressing those issues. Furthermore, she emphasized that Italy enjoys extensive experience in the field of SMEs and can help by offering its expertise in that crucial field to provide employment opportunities, in addition to their wish to benefit from IDB’s expertise in the area of Islamic financing.