DUBAI/Washington - US President Barack Obama urged Arab countries on Monday to establish inclusive governments to ensure security in a region rocked by turmoil. "When governments truly invest in their citizens, their education, skills, and health, and universal human rights are upheld, countries are more peaceful, more prosperous and more successful," he told the opening day of the World Government Summit in Dubai. "As we have seen in the tumult across the Middle East and North Africa, when governments do not lift up their citizens, it's a recipe for instability and strife," he said in a video address to the conference.

Obama recalled discussing with leaders of the six Arab monarchies of the Gulf at Camp David last year how "true and lasting security requires an inclusive government that serves all citizens". Several Middle East and North African countries have been rocked by a wave of uprisings demanding reforms that started in Tunisia and led to the 2011 Arab Spring. Some of the uprisings, such as those in Syria, Libya and Yemen, have morphed into civil wars prompting the rise of extremists such as the Islamic State militant group as well as an exodus of millions of refugees to Europe.

The president of the World Bank Group, Jim Yong Kim, echoed Obama at the Dubai summit, urging leaders to "build inclusive governments". "Good governance is the foundation of all development," Kim told participants. "Many parts of the world are becoming more fragile, making quality leadership and good governance ever more important."He called for governments to be "transparent in their actions and fully engage with citizens". "Governments must invest in their people to give them the opportunity to reach their full potential... create business environments that encourage innovation, competition and private sector investments which will in turn create jobs."

More than 3,000 participants from 125 countries, including world leaders and top experts, are attending the three-day summit on governance. "Please note, across this region and around the world, those of you who embrace reform and truly invest in the lives of your people will continue to have a partner and friend in the United States," Obama told the forum. Meanwhile, President Barack Obama on Monday asked for more than $1.8 billion in emergency funds to tackle the fast-spreading Zika virus at home and abroad.

The mosquito-borne illness has surged through Latin America, prompting fears that clement spring weather could bring an explosion in cases. The White House said money is needed to fund vaccine research, insect control programs and other "essential strategies" to combat the virus and help "ongoing preparedness efforts." Obama's formal request to Congress is expected soon. While not deadly, Zika has been linked in Latin America to a rapid rise in the number of children born with microcephaly - abnormally small heads and brains. It is believed the virus is passed from infected pregnant women to their unborn children.

There is no cure or vaccine for the virus which, in most people, causes mild symptoms. While Obama called for more funds, he also urged calm. "The good news is this is not like Ebola, people don't die of Zika - a lot of people get it and don't even know that they have it," he told television channel CBS.  "What we now know, though, is that there appears to be some significant risk for pregnant women or women who are thinking about getting pregnant." "We don't know exactly what the relations there are but there is enough correlation that we have to take this very seriously."The World Health Organization has declared a global medical emergency to combat Zika and individual countries and regions are beginning to mobilize.

Some nations have taken the extraordinary step of urging women to delay having children. In Europe, a medicines watchdog has set up a task team to help develop drugs and vaccines. According to the Pan-American Health Organization, 26 countries have confirmed cases, spanning 7,000 kilometers (4,400 miles) from Mexico to Paraguay. The hardest hit country is Brazil, which hosts the Summer Olympics starting in August. Fear of catching the virus has become a national obsession, dabbing this year's carnival extravaganza with a large dollop of Mosquito repellent.

Firms report sales of spray have increased 800 percent from December 2015-January 2016. Pharmacies report they are starting to sell out of some repellents. In Colombia, more than 22,600 cases of the Zika virus have been confirmed. There, the virus has been linked to Guillain-Barre syndrome, a neurological disease that can cause paralysis in humans. The US Centers for Disease Control has so far found 50 confirmed cases of Zika among travelers returning to the United States. In at least one instance, in Dallas, the disease may have been transmitted sexually. But the Aedes aegypti mosquito that carries the virus is endemic across the southern and eastern United States.

"As spring and summer approach, bringing with them larger and more active mosquito populations, we must be fully prepared to mitigate and quickly address local transmission within the continental US, particularly in the southern United States," the White House said. Puerto Rico and other US territories in warmer areas are especially vulnerable. Obama 's funding proposal includes $250 million in aid for the cash-strapped island.