Under the theme "Facing the Real Challenges: Partnering for Change, Peace and Development", leaders from the world of politics, business and civil society will come together in Jordan in about a week.
Key themes under discussion will include the imminent handover of power in Iraq and the Arab-Israeli relations, but the meeting will also concentrate on the key questions of reform in politics and business across the Middle East. Sessions will look at Arab competitiveness and will also build on the work of the World Economic Forum’s Arab Business Council.
Of the 650 participants, there will be 6 heads of state and more than 30 ministers. Academia and the NGOs are also well represented, and although more than two-thirds of participants come from the Middle East, participants from Europe and the United States will number more than 200. There are also participants from Asia, Latin America and Africa.
Speaking at a White House joint press conference with King Abdullah II yesterday, President George Bush welcomed the upcoming meeting. “Jordan and the United States share a vision for a free, stable, and prosperous Middle East. Under the King's leadership, Jordan has become a force for reform and positive change in the region. This month, Jordan will be hosting a meeting of the World Economic Forum, another important milestone on the Middle East journey to greater openness and opportunity and liberty. Next June, G8 nations will discuss ways that we can support reform in the Middle East. We will look to the results of your World Economic Forum as a guide for future actions.”
The US Administration also announced that Ambassador Bob Zoellick, US Trade Representative will lead the American delegation in Jordan.
The World Economic Forum returns to Jordan on 15 to 17 May to help in the process of building a partnership for regional reform. Apart from the meeting of the Quartet for Peace and the launch of the US’s Arab Free Trade Zone last year, a number of new initiatives were launched. These included the Arab Business Council, the Council of 100 which seeks to bring understanding between the world of Islam and the West, and many other smaller initiatives that are already bearing fruit.
According to King Abdullah II of Jordan, "Success will only come when nations work together to ensure justice, peace and opportunity on a global scale. This is the true partnership for human development. The meeting comes at a critical and appropriate time – through its ability to provide a credible and impartial platform to openly engage in dialogue that is geared towards identifying and tackling these cross-border challenges," he said.
Professor Klaus Schwab, Executive Chairman and founder of the World Economic Forum, pointed out that “the meeting comes at what is generally perceived as a key moment for the region, with a number of potentially crucial events taking place together. The upcoming G-8 Summit and the handover of power in Iraq are among these, throwing up huge challenges but also huge opportunities. But those who come to this meeting realize that we must grasp these opportunities. We are proud of our close cooperation with many Arab leaders and we hope very much that the conclusions of our meeting will feed into the Arab League Summit of 22 May. What is clear is that the meeting is fully immersed in the reality faced by the people of the region.” (menareport.com)
© 2004 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )