The Gulf Organization for Industrial Consulting ((GOIC) said Monday the total volume of investments in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the Gulf region amounted to 14 billion in 2012. The figure represents only 4.2 percent of the total investments in the industrial sector in the region, GOIC Secretary-General Abdulaziz Al-Oqail said. "The meager percentage highlights the need to pump more investments to the SMEs so that they could play a bigger role in socio-economic development in the GCC countries on equal footing with their peers in the advanced countries, " he said. Al-Oqail made the remarks on the sidelines of his participation in Qatar International Exhibition for Small and Medium Industries (QATAR SME-2013) being held here on November 17-19. He noted that most countries of the world, particularly the emerging economies, realized the vital role of the SMEs in economic growth and creation of jobs and activation of trade in the wake of the international financial crisis of 2008. "In 2012 the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Bahrain were the biggest GCC economies in terms of SMEs with the UAE SME accounting for 85.5 percent of the country's industrial projects and the Bahraini SMEs representing 81.8 percent," he went on. "The GOIC data show that the total number of the SMEs in the region topped 12,684 representing 83.6 percent of the industrial projects in the GCC member countries," Al-Oqail pointed out. "These enterprises employ 46.1 percent of the total workforce of the industrial sector, mainly expatriate workers," he noted, adding that the GCC countries need to increase the ratio of national workforce in the industrial sector in order to address the unemployment problem.