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World Economic Forum on the Middle East

Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, 18-20 May 2008

Tuesday 20 May

Download the report

Closing PlenaryForum on Middle East closes with calls for fast reforms
Young leaders from the Middle East have called on their business and government leaders to implement reforms immediately and transparently if they are to fulfill their potential by 2025. “We need faster change to keep pace with what’s happening in the rest of the world,” said Amira Abdel-Aziz, a masters student at Cairo University. “We need to ensure we have pragmatic answers, and no government in the region today can afford to not have a plan for its future,” said Ahmed Mahmoud Nazif, Prime Minister of Egypt, in the closing plenary of the World Economic Forum on the Middle East.
Photos I Press release I Summary

Khalid JanahiProsperity with challenges for Middle East predicted
Oil and gas prices will continue to rise, providing unique investment opportunities, but the region’s greatest challenges are likely to be in managing expectations, lowering trade and investment barriers and educating the next generation to handle the wealth that is now being produced. “Education is the biggest challenge,” said Khalid Abdulla-Janahi, Chairman of Ithmaar Bank and Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum on the Middle East.
Photos

PlenaryLeaders examine Middle East scenarios
The World Economic Forum on the Middle East series examining 3 potential scenarios for the region’s futures concluded with action items to realise the best possible outcome by 2025. For the Sustainable World scenario, leaders agreed that the issue needed to be placed on the business agenda. In the Multipolar World scenario, participants noted that the supremacy of the security institutions in policy making needed to be minimised. The creation of a strong middle class to support economic growth would be a counter balance. And in a Hyperlinked world, leaders prioritized overhauling the primary and secondary education systems through strategic investments.
Photos I Summary

Monday 19 May

Internet cornerMiddle East leads the way in improving networked readiness
The Forum’s ‘Global Information Technology Report 2007-2008’ underlines the substantial progress the Middle East is making in ICT, spearheaded by the Gulf States.
Press release I Photos 

Ibrahim Dabdoub


The new financial order
The recent sub-prime lending crisis has highlighted the increasingly important role of non-bank financial institutions, including the sovereign wealth funds created by a number of countries to invest their surplus export earnings. Some observers argue this trend potentially represents a fundamental shift in the global financial architecture, requiring a policy response from regulators and the financial industry. Ibrahim S. Dabdoub, CEO, National Bank of Kuwait, argued that sovereign wealth funds should hardly be considered competitors of banks and other traditional financial institutions – and, indeed, rely heavily on those institutions to help them manage their portfolios. "Sovereign funds are basically stakeholders in the stability of the global economy," he argued.
Photos

Nader Al Dahabi and Mohamed M. ElBaradeiResolving Palestinian conflict key to Middle East stability
A settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is crucial for Middle East security was the message from the region’s leaders at a World Economic Forum on the Middle East plenary session. “This is very important for Jordan and the whole region,” said Nader Al Dahabi, Jordan’s premier. “The Palestinian issue is core,” agreed Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the IAEA. He added that the region needed to improve the quality of life through home-grown reforms for there to be lasting stability: “Poverty to me is the most powerful weapon of mass destruction.”
Photos I Summary

Ahmed NazifDoes Arab business care?
Business and government leaders agreed that there is a growing realization among Arab businesses that they have a civic duty to become global stakeholders alongside governments and civil society to help solve issues such as climate change, water and corruption.
Photos I Summary


 

Green development sessionGreen development
Participants in an interactive session identified the main blockages to creating greener supply chains for urban development. In a series of small breakout groups, they built their own supply chains focusing on the specific needs of, and constraints and enablers, in the Middle East. Supply chains for a green building, desalination plant, solar park, urban waste recycling facility
were mapped, compared and analysed to identify the main bottlenecks.
Summary I Photos I Workspace

H.M. King Abdullah II of JordanMiddle East gender equality gets a boost with new Gender Parity Group
Fifty influential female and male leaders have formed a Middle East Gender Parity Group to tackle discrimination and close the gap between the sexes. “This is the Middle East’s first high-level group of both female and male decision-makers working together to achieve gender equality in the workplace, education, politics and health, and to better engage the talent of the region’s female population,” said Saadia Zahidi, Head of the Women Leaders and Gender Parity Programme at the World Economic Forum.
Women Leaders and Gender Parity Programme I Press release

Sunday 18 May

President George W. BushPresident Bush urges deeper reforms in Middle East
President George W. Bush has encouraged leaders in the Middle East to pursue deeper economic and social reforms in the region. “America appreciates the challenges facing the Middle East, yet the light of liberty is beginning to shine… Nations across the region have the opportunity to move forward with bold reforms,” he said in a special address at the World Economic Forum on the Middle East. Bush vowed to push for the creation of a Palestinian state before he leaves office, alongside a secure Israel.
Press release I Summary I Photos I Webcast

H.M. King Abdullah II of JordanMubarak opens World Economic Forum on the Middle East
Hosni Mubarak, President of Egypt, and host of the World Economic Forum on the Middle East, has opened the 3-day meeting with an address to over a 1,000 world leaders gathered in Sharm El Sheikh. He began by calling for a global effort to address the economic downturn. “The current international economic crisis introduces many problems where social and economic dimensions are intertwined, as well as other issues such as climate change, water, food and energy supplies, and standards of living,” he said. President Mubarak blamed biofuels for fuelling the rise in food prices. “The international community needs to recalculate the cost of using agriculture for energy,” he said.
Press release I Summary I Photos I Webcast

H.M. King Abdullah II of JordanKing Abdullah calls 2008 year of Palestinian state
H.M. King Abdullah II of Jordan has urged world leaders at the World Economic Forum on the Middle East to seize the moment and end 60 years of conflict between the Palestinians and Israelis. “After years of delay, progress is possible. After 60 years, it is past time to create a new basis for the future, one that recognizes the needs of all,” he said in a special address.
Press release I Summary I Photos I Webcast I Speech (EN) I Speech (AR)

 
Quotes

This session provided some remarkable insights into the green supply chain interconnections, complexities and bottlenecks. Those insights will be extremely valuable to the Forum's on ongoing sustainable development workstreams and initiatives.


 

Ralph R. Peterson, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, CH2M Hill Companies I Session Summary

 

Mohammed Alshaya, Chairman, Alshaya Group, Kuwait; Co-Chair

The mechanism chosen to deliver results at the World Economic Forum on the Middle East is a dynamic one which centres on where the Middle East could be in 2025 - Learning from the Future.


 

Mohammed Alshaya, Chairman, Alshaya Group, Kuwait; Co-Chair
Photos

 

Paul Rice, President and Chief Executive Officer

One of the goals I have for the World Economic Forum on the Middle East is to give greater visibility to innovative, market-based approaches to social and environmental problems.


 

Paul Rice, President and CEO, TransFair; Co-Chair
Photos

 

There is a partnership to be had between business, government and the voluntary sector in order to achieve more growth to allow more people to share in the prosperity of globalization.


 

H.R.H. The Duke of York, UK Special Representative for International Trade and Investment, Co-Chair
Photos

 
Robert B. Zoellick

The history of government allocation of capital has not been such a good one over time. So people are asking some legitimate questions.


 

Robert B. Zoellick, President, The World Bank Group
Photos

 

Ahmed Mahmoud Nazif

"We're seeing the private sector becoming more engaged on their own. People are now talking about a partnership."

Ahmed Mahmoud Nazif,
Prime Minister of Egypt


 

Photos

 

Tony Hayward

I believe the energy challenge is very big, bigger than any faced and bigger than anyone appreciated five years ago.


 

Tony Hayward, Group Chief Executive, BP
Photos

 

Arif Naqvi

Business is not just about economic gain, but we need to look at the social and environmental gain too, put it all together and increase stakeholder value.


 

Arif Naqvi, Founder and Group CEO, Abraaj Capital
Photos

 


Mohamed ElBaradei

Poverty to me is the most powerful weapon of mass destruction.


 

Mohamed ElBaradei, Director-General, International Atomic Energy Agency
Photos

 

Co-Chairs
Khalid Abdulla-Janahi, Chairman, Ithmaar Bank, Bahrain
Mohammed Alshaya, Chairman, Alshaya Group, Kuwait
H.R.H. The Duke of York, UK Special Representative for International Trade and Investment
Paul Rice, President and Chief Executive Officer, TransFair, USA
Jimmy Wales, Founder and Chair Emeritus, Wikia, USA
Yuriko Koike, Member of the House of Representatives, National Diet of Japan



    
 
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