The World Economic Forum announced on Sunday that its 2006 Middle East meeting, bringing together political, business leaders and civil society leaders from the region and beyond, will be held at the Egyptian Red Sea Resort of Sharm-el-Sheikh.
The announcement was issued on the shores of the Dead Sea at the end of the three-day 2005 meeting, hailed by King Abdullah II Ibn Hussein of the Jordan as articulating “a vision of peace and security” for the region. Many other participants agreed, labelling the meeting a major success.
The invitation to Egypt was issued in a special address by Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Mahmoud Nazif on the last day of the meeting. “As you know, Sharm-el-Sheikh has gained international recognition as a city of peace. We hope the spirit of the city will prevail as we continue to accelerate the development of our nations economically and politically,” he told participants.
Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the Forum, which holds its Annual Meeting in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos, told the final session that the Egyptian invitation – for 20-22 May 2006 – has been accepted. “We will return here in 2007,” he added.
“The world often speaks of the ‘spirit of Davos’. We have seen that spirit spread to this region,” declared Schwab. “We are on the shores of the Dead Sea, but it should be called the ‘Non-Dead Sea’ because of the spiritual renewal that takes place here.”
The Forum has held the three Middle East meetings, starting from 2003, at the Dead Sea in Jordan in sight of Israel on the opposite shore, under the patronage, and with the active participation, of King Abdullah. Business and political leaders from Israel, the United States and Europe, are regular participants.
This year’s discussions, under the theme “Seizing the Moment,” centred around the need, recognized by all participants, to achieve political, economic and social change in the region and an end to its conflicts, especially in Israel, the Palestinian Territories and Iraq.
In his closing speech, King Abdullah said the region’s people – as evidenced by an opinion survey conducted for the Forum – are telling the leaders they want meaningful reform bringing a tangible difference in their lives.
“We must listen to their voices. And we must act: to cultivate good governance and human rights; to create economies that deliver opportunity, economies that encourage trade investment and innovation….to bring peace with justice to our region,” he declared.
“The entire world has a stake in Middle East peace and development”, the King said. “The 2005 meeting”, he added, “has highlighted the core reality for the entire region – that its future depends on a just resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian through creation of a viable Palestinian state beside a secure Israel. The message for Iraqis from the meeting,” the King said, “is that the entire Arab world supports them in their search for sovereignty, unity and prosperity. “