UN lauds Bahrain quality of life
Manama, June 1, 2008
Bahrain has one of the lowest numbers of people living in slum conditions in the Gulf, it has emerged.
About two per cent of the urban population reside in 'impoverished and overcrowded' areas, according to figures from the UN.
Only Kuwait and the UAE match the percentage and the figures rise as high as between 10 per cent and 20 per cent in Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Syria.
Higher numbers of slums are also found in Iraq, Oman, Palestine and Yemen, where more than 50 per cent of the urban population live in squalid conditions.
The statistics were collected by the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN Habitat) and UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia.
Manama-based UN Information Centre director for the Gulf, Nejib Friji, said Bahrain has been a regional pioneer in improving the living conditions of its people.
He pointed out Prime Minister Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa receiving the UN Habitat Award last year, but urged the country not to become complacent.
'The government has done a good job and we are looking forward to additional efforts to ensure sustainable urbanisation is adopted subject to a stronger community,' said Friji.
The senior official was speaking ahead of a major UN conference, which begins in Bahrain today (Sunday).
Government delegations from Gulf countries, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, Palestine, Iraq and Yemen will discuss growing economic and social impact of uncontrolled urbanisation.
They will debate access to land and housing, urban planning and finance and Islamic banking during the meeting at the Ritz-Carlton Bahrain Hotel and Spa.
'The problems of the world are mainly economic and social and climate change is affecting a growing number of people, that is why the UN is putting more and more emphasis on this,' Friji told the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.
UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) president Leo Merores will deliver the opening remarks at the event, while Deputy Prime Minister and chairman of the Supreme Committee for Information and Communication Technology Shaikh Mohammed bin Mubarak Al Khalifa will give the keynote speech.
Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa will chair the meeting and also deliver a speech.
Other speakers at the two-day meeting will be assistant secretary-general for Policy Co-ordination and Inter-Agency Affairs, IM Department of Economic and Social Affairs Thomas Stelzer and GCC Secretary-General Abdulrahman bin Hamad Al Attiyah.
UNESCWA executive secretary Bader Al Dafa and UN Habitat executive director Anna Tibaijuka will also address delegates.
The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs is co-sponsoring the event with the Bahrain government and the meeting's recommendations will serve as input to the ECOSOC annual meeting in New York in July.-TradeArabia News Service