Recent shifts in the Arab world coupled with an economic contraction at the global level have created a new urgency for decision-makers across the region: the need to address the fundamental conditions required to revive growth and support human development.
Now more than ever, it is critical to match employment, entrepreneurship and education prospects with the aspirations of young populations. This has clearly become a key in the decisions taken by government, industry and civil society in the Arab world. To respond to these apparent and urgent imperatives, the World Economic Forum will convene a "Special Meeting on Economic Growth and Job Creation in the Arab World" at the Dead Sea, Jordan.
The Special Meeting ended with a call for action and radical change in the region's mindset. "In the Middle East, we need fewer leaders and more doers," said Habib Haddad, Chief Executive Officer, Wamda, United Arab Emirates, a Co-Chair of the Special Meeting and a Young Global Leader. "We need to be ready to push all the buttons we have," he said. Haddad emphasized that the region needs more courageous investment. "It is not that the region doesn't have money," he said, "it is how we leverage and use it."
H.M. Queen Rania Al Abdullah of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan spoke of how education and support for small businesses can unlock Arab youth potential. "Partnering with academia, NGOs and the private sector could reposition the Arab world as a hub of creativity and innovation. We have within our people all the potential and power to change our fate," she told participants in a plenary session on Addressing the Employment Challenge. Tony Blair, UN Middle East Quartet Representative, speaking on a panel about geopolitical trends, said that translating the political changes of the Arab Spring into improvements in people's lives is the greatest challenge facing governments in the region today.
In an effort to tap into the potential of the youth generation, especially given recent events in the Arab world, the World Economic Forum today launched the Global Shapers Middle East Community. The Global Shapers Community is a worldwide network of Hubs led by 20- 30 year-olds who are exceptional in their potential, achievements and drive to make a positive contribution to their communities.
The Schwab Foundation announced two winners of the Social Entrepreneur of the Year for the Arab World award. Curt Rhodes of Questscope in Jordan provides non-formal education to vulnerable dropouts and Sameh Seif Ghali of Together Association for Development and the Environment in Upper Egypt improves sanitation and access to clean water in remote villages.
The Arab World Competitiveness Report, which continues the successful collaboration of the World Economic Forum and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), is a contribution to understanding the key factors determining future prosperity and economic growth in the Arab world at this critical juncture. It offers policymakers and business leaders an important tool in formulating improved economic policies and institutional reforms.
The fourth edition of this report is published at a critical time for the region. The important changes taking place in North Africa and the Middle East have brought to light a number of socio- economic challenges - such as youth unemployment, regional inequalities, corruption, weak institutions, limited entrepreneurship, and the need to advance the role of women in the economy - that must be addressed if the aspirations of the region's citizens are to be met.
The Scenarios for the Mediterranean Region project began in August 2010 with the objective of exploring the long-term evolution of regional dynamics and the role of the private sector in the Mediterranean region, looking out to the year 2030. The project drew on the World Economic Forum's deep expertise in multistake-holder scenario thinking, competitiveness analysis and our long-standing engagement with the wider Europe and Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
The Scenarios for the Mediterranean Region report explores three possible futures for the region, based on long-term uncertainties related to the development of regional politics, regional resource management and the regional labor market.
H.M. King Abdullah II Ibn Al Hussein of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan opened the World Economic Forum Special Meeting on Economic Growth and Job Creation in the Arab World by observing that the Arab world has reached a critical turning point. "Our region stands today at the gates to the future," said the King, noting that there are four gates or crucial areas for consideration: dignity, opportunity, democracy, and peace and justice.
Source: Dead Sea, Jordan 21-23 October 2011 Special Meeting on Economic Growth and Job Creation in the Arab World. Changes were made in keeping with the editorial policy of www.memrieconomicblog.org.