Saturday, January 17, 2009

The global downturn has cost Arab countries $2.5 trillion in the last four months alone, Kuwait says.

The global economic crisis has cost Arab countries $2,500bn (£1,690bn) in the last four months alone, according to Kuwait's foreign minister.

Sheikh Mohammed al-Sabah told reporters in Kuwait City that oil-rich Gulf Arab states had postponed or cancelled 60% of development projects.

He did not give details for his figures, which were released days before an Arab Economic Summit.

Stock market falls and a low oil price have contributed to the losses.

The biggest loss was an estimated 40% drop in the value of Arab investments abroad, which had previously totalled around $2.5tn, AFP news agency reports.

"The Arab world has lost $2.5 trillion in the past four months," Mr Sabah said after meeting fellow foreign and finance ministers.

Kuwait City is due to open a two-day Arab Economic Summit on Monday, the first of its kind.

Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa earlier described the meeting of 22 heads of state as "the largest and most important" Arab event of 2009.