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Satyendra Pathak
Qatar has succeeded in mobilising regional and international support for the upcoming international investment conference in Tunis, Qatar's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in statement on Sunday.
Slated to begin on November 29, the two-day international conference is Qatar's idea for reviving Tunisia's flagging economy.
Qatar had proposed an international conference to relaunch Tunisia's battered economy, which has been affected since the 2011 revolution.
The proposal was made by the Emir His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani during Tunisian President Caid Essebsi's visit to Qatar in May this year. President Essebsi has readily accepted the proposal and thanked HH the Emir for the initiative.
According to the ministry's statement, Minister of Foreign Affairs HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al Thani mobilised support for the conference titled 'Tunisia 2020' during his meetings with officials in several countries.
During the meetings, the foreign minister stressed that Qatar was interested in holding the conference based on its desire to stand by Tunisian people and help the country overcome the current economic crisis.
Representatives of more than 70 countries will participate in the international investment conference being organised jointly by Qatar, Tunisia, Canada, France, and the World Bank in Tunis.
The conference will seek to gather investments necessary to implement the large-scale projects planned under Tunisia's five-year development plan.
According to experts, the Tunisian economy grew at less than 1 percent in 2015. The forecasts for 2016, however, say growth may reach 2 percent. The conference holds a lot of significance for Tunisia in a situation when the country is facing growing unemployment rate.
Unemployment rate in Tunisia has been estimated at 15 percent of the country's total population of 11 million with more than 600,000 young graduates still looking for jobs.
Highlighting growing economic relations between Qatar and Tunisia since the 2011 revolution, the statement said that Qatar had taken several initiatives to bring the Tunisian economy back on track.
In a major boost to Tunisian economy, Qatar Friendship Fund was launched in Tunisia in 2013 to create job opportunities for youths of the country.
Since its establishment, Qatari Friendship Fund has supported several projects creating 11,000 jobs until date. According to the statement, Qatar is looking forward to creating 15,000 more jobs by 2018 through the fund.
The Qatari Friendship Fund has also allocated a budget of $15 million to Qatar Charity for social projects in Tunisia.
Tunisia is also in talks to set up a $2 billion joint fund with Qatar for investment in various economic sectors of Tunisia with equal contributions from both countries.
The ministry has expressed hope that the conference would be a new beginning for the Tunisian economy.
The programme includes a meeting to be chaired by the Tunisian President on November 29. It will be followed by workshops moderated by some 50 speakers and attended by more than 1,500 Tunisian and foreign participants.
The conference will also focus on issues related to infrastructure, the green economy, sustainable development, regional development and job creation.
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