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Arrival of H.H. Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi,The Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah

The inaugural Horasis Global Arab Business Meeting convened in Ras Al Khaimah on 26-27 September 2010. Held under the theme ‘Overcoming the Crisis – Opportunities for the Arab world’ and with more than 400 business and governmental leaders taking part in the event, the Global Arab Business Meeting provided the platform for Arab and global business leaders to discuss the implications of the global economic crisis for the region and to shape the postcrisis environment.

Also, the meeting was conceived to reflect on the increased emphasis of Arab firms to build global and sustainable brands – and thus contributing to the healing of the world economy.

This report distils and interprets the outcomes and observations that emerged from the meeting and offers a taste of the discussions in Ras Al Khaimah.

H.H. Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, The Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, addressing the Global Arab Business Meeting

The programme was designed to consider how the regions robust economies can contribute to a global recovery.Thanks to the oil boom, the Arab world enjoys high liquidity, with ample funds to invest.The impact of the global economic crisis naturally varies across the region – important variables include reliance on oil revenues, infrastructure projects and tourism.
Still, as one of the participants, Rami K. Alturki, President, Khalid Ali Alturki & Sons, Saudi Arabia, put it:‘The Arab world might be better placed than most to weather the global downturn.’ In a turbulent region at a time of multiple crises confronting the world, the Arab world has emerged prepared to face both challenges and opportunities awaiting the region.

Obaid Saqer Busit, Chairman, Obaid Saqer Busit Co., UAE, declared that ‘when markets dried up, the Arab world was quick to refocus its trade and marketing efforts in targeting industries and regions not severely affected by the economic downturn.’ Arab and international business leaders attending the Global Arab Business Meeting unanimously expressed optimism about the strong and sustained growth of the regional economy.

Business Leaders listening to the Crown Prince’s remarks

The creation of the Global Arab Business Meeting marks a crucial moment. New opportunities are emerging for, and in, the Arab world as the global economy undergoes structural changes, as the whole region engages in a process of re-adjusting its business and economic interaction with the rest of the world.

The assembly of Arab leaders brought together under the auspices of the Global Arab Business Meeting sought to contribute to progress toward stability in both a conceptual and a practical way. Participants reached consensus that

  • Global and domestic challenges are testing the resilience of Arab economies. The combination of economic, political and social factors at play in the Arab world makes the year 2010 a cornerstone of the region’s future. Governments and the private sector should join hands in turning challenges into opportunities.
  • Investments in education, healthcare and technology will be the key drivers to ensure long-term and inclusive growth.
  • The Arab world should embrace industrialization to effectively address the growing problem of unemployment in the region
  • Arab nations will tap the synergies with their respective neighbouring countries and play a more pronounced role in global trade and investment.

Moh’d Abu-Hammour,Minister of Finance of Jordan - governments must assume the role of facilitators

‘The above points need to be considered from a long-term perspective even when current crises demand our attention,’ said Tariq Ahmed Nizami, Founder, CEO Clubs UAE; Chief Executive Officer, F Kamber Holdings, UAE.‘The short- and intermediate-term economic outlook for the Middle East remains positive but how can the Arab world achieve its long-term growth objectives?’ asked Andrew Shaw, Managing Director, Dubai Cables, UAE.

In his special address, H.H. Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi,The Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, UAE welcomed participants to Ras Al Khaimah and called for a new global partnership.

The economic partnership between the Emirates and the world has extensive synergies – especially during the current global economic turmoil. He called on leaders from business and government to restore trust in a decisive but sustainable way. He also sent the message that global trade talks need to be reenergised.‘We are determined to complete the Doha trade deal,’ he added.

‘Education is at the core of our vision because it is the only way for building competitiveness in the 21st century’ 
H.H. Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi,The Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah

On Ras Al Khaimah’s economic outlook, the Crown Prince shared his vision on building an open, competitive economy at an international level.‘

He urged Arab countries to invest more in education and research to become relevant in an increasingly globalised world. ‘Education is at the core of our vision because it is the only way for building competitiveness in the 21st century,’ he added. H.H. Sheikh Saud also called on Arab leaders to develop sound investment strategies, create good infrastructure, and develop a good education system and work ethics.

He pointed out that the same approach has proved beneficial and highly successful for Ras Al Khaimah, as it has helped develop and implement innovative business reforms that have enhanced the emirate’s competitiveness and created a business-friendly environment.

‘In the present global economic meltdown, an emerging power like Jordan must readjust with the new realities’ 
Moh’d Abu-Hammour,Minister of Finance of Jordan
‘All the ingredients for sustainable growth are there,’ argued Moh’d Abu-Hammour, Minister of Finance of Jordan, at the opening dinner.The Minister spoke candidly about the impact of the downturn.‘The crisis is real and serious,’ he said.‘In the present global economic meltdown, an emerging power like Jordan must readjust with the new realities.The challenges require continuity, as well as correction.When the crisis is over, investment will be made in those economies where there is deeper trust. By and large our economy is stable and strong.’

He underlined the need to create an environment that is conducive for investment and economic growth.Minister Abu-Hammour called on the participants to harness the full potential of public-private partnerships (PPP) in implementing key projects across the region. He described the private sector as an ‘engine for growth’ and noted that governments must assume the role of ‘facilitator’ to proactively encourage private sector participation in various development initiatives.

Vayalar Ravi, Union Cabinet Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs, said in his keynote address that no one is immune to the ongoing global changes.‘We are living in turbulent times and we have to choose the right road.’Minister Ravi announced that India will intensify its engagement with the Arab world.

H.H. Sheikh Saud and Minister Vayalar Ravi
Saeb Nahas, Chairman, Nahas Enterprises Group, Syria and Ammar Aker, Chief Executive Officer, Palestine Cellular Communications, Palestine
Yasser Hatami, Managing Director, GulfTalent,UAE; Christopher Abraham, Professor, S P Jain Center; Rekha Sethi, Director General,AIMA;
Mohamed A Bahabri, Chairman, Qanawat
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