Monday, December 7, 2015

How will the future look like in the Arab world?

DUBAI --- Under the directives and patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the organizing committee of the Arab Strategy Forum has announced that the eighth session of the forum will commence on 15th December in Dubai. Convening eminent thought leaders and experts, economists, politicians and analysts, the event will aim to forecast future trends in the Arab region, while examining economic and political challenges that have dominated the world in 2016.
Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Gargawi, Minister for Cabinet Affairs and Chairman of the Executive Office of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and chairman of the higher organizing committee of the Arab Strategy Forum, said, "The eighth edition of the Arab Strategy forum articulates the vision of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum with regard to the global need to plan for the future and develop multiple and alternative scenarios for all short- and medium-term goals on the political and economic levels. The rapid changes the world is witnessing require thoughtful insights to study their impact if we are to collectively resolve the various emerging regional and international challenges."
He added, "We in the United Arab Emirates are working continuously to monitor all variables and update our plans and projects in accordance with the latest developments. The global confidence the UAE has earned enables it to serve as a platform to forecast the future and develop solutions for predictable or even unforeseen challenges. The UAE leadership has proven the soundness of its vision regarding the causes of political conflicts and economic crises as well as the mechanisms to solve them. The Arab Strategy Forum therefore represents a platform through which the UAE reinforces its commitment to partnering with the world in the formulation of tangible and workable solutions for various challenges in order to ensure a safer and more equitable world. "
Al Gargawi noted that the seventh session of the Forum, which was held in Dubai last year succeeded in drawing a picture of the year 2015 and contributed to highlighting diverse global and regional events, scenarios and current challenges. Furthermore, the seventh edition successfully predicted the repercussions of events arising at the regional and international levels, which helped decision-makers to put in place the necessary mechanisms to deal with various scenarios that would have a positive impact on the security and stability of the region and the world at large."
Likewise, the upcoming edition of the forum this year will see the participation of a number of decision makers, as well as political and economic scientists who will forecast the state of the world in 2016. HRH Turki Al Faisal, Chairman of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, former Director General of the General Intelligence Directorate (GID) of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Ghassan Salameh, political thinker and author will headline a session on the political state of the Arab world in 2016. The session to be moderated by Mohannad Al Khateeb from the Sky News Arabia network will discuss major expected political changes and their impact on the region.
Salam Fayyad, former Palestinian Prime Minister and Mahmoud Mohieldin, Corporate Secretary and President’s Special Envoy, World Bank, will participate in a session on the economic state of the Arab world in 2016. Highlighting economic trends, growth prospects and challenges, the session will be moderated by Nassir Al Teibi from the Al Arabiya news channel.
William Hague, former UK Foreign Secretary, will lead a session on the political state of the world for 2016. He will offer his insights and predictions on the global scenario in a session moderated by Becky Anderson from CCN.
Larry Summers, former US Secretary of Treasury and former president of Harvard University, and Professor Nouriel Roubini from New York University will headline a session on the economic state of the world in 2016. The two speakers will highlight economic trends and their global effects during the session moderated by Tom Kenny from Bloomberg.
As a key highlight, this year’s edition of the Arab Strategy Forum will showcase a number of reports by international organizations. The World Bank will offer insights on the economic projections for the world in 2016, while the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will spotlight its regional economic forecasts for the upcoming year. Foreign Affairs magazine will discuss its report on the political and economic state of the world for 2016. Furthermore, the World Economic Forum (WEF) will highlight its Global Risks Report 2016.
The seventh cycle of the Arab Strategy Forum, held in December 2014, attracted a number of thought leaders in the political and economic spheres and discussed 12 pivotal topics on the regional and global levels. The participants offered a number of predictions on the state of the region and the world economically and politically, of which many proved accurate in 2015.
Francis Fukuyama, the influential American author in politics and political economy, predicted the continuation of the Libyan crisis with no solution expected to be reached in 2015. He also predicted India’s success in overcoming a number of obstacles in its economic development process. Bruce de Mesquita, professor and Director of Alexandra Hamilton Political Economy Center at New York University, and senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, predicted major global changes due to the political and strategic changes in a number of countries worldwide. He correctly projected that the economic slowdown in Europe and China would further decrease oil prices, and politically he anticipated that the P5+1 group would reach a nuclear agreement with Iran.
For his part, Ghassan Salameh, professor of international relations and former Lebanese Minister of Culture, predicted a rise of regional countries of influence such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia and also anticipated the increase in the number of areas controlled by terrorist organizations.
Ahmad Abu Elgheit, former Egyptian Foreign Minister, predicted that Egypt’s priorities in 2015 would be focused on security, stability, launching development projects, and attracting foreign investments. Politically, he predicted an increase in Iranian intervention, which would lead to the formation of an Arab coalition to face this scenario.
Abdullah Al-Badri, Secretary General of OPEC, stressed the importance of continuing exploration and investment efforts in oil despite the dip in oil prices. He also pointed out the importance of lifting subsidies on fuel and decreasing consumption while considering imposing taxes and enabling more controlled government spending to combat the negative effects of declining oil prices. He also noted that the world would still be dependent on oil for 60% of its energy needs in the coming 30 years.
Henry Azzam, economic expert and former CEO of Deutsche Bank for the MENA region, predicted a limited impact of declining oil prices on the gulf countries with slower growth rates in 2015. He said that the dip in oil prices would be greater on other oil exporting counties, and added that non-oil sectors would lead the growth in the immediate future.

The Arab Strategy Forum was launched in 2001. It focuses on political and economic issues affecting the world in general and the Arab world in particular. The Forum has succeeded over the years in becoming an influential platform that convenes prominent political and thought leaders such as former US President Bill Clinton, late Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri, Samuel Huntington, American professor of political science, Eric Schmidt, Chairman of Google, and Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations, among others. The forum has become an international networking event with a number of workshops and sessions that help participants formulate future plans on regional and global levels with the aim of achieving a more stable and prosperous world.

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