Representatives of the World Economic Forum and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan met in Geneva, Switzerland to sign the Memorandum of Understanding marking the official start of the preparations for the World Economic Forum on the Middle East, which will take place on 18 to 20 May 2007. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Bassem I. Awadallah, Vice-Chairman of the Board of Trustees, King Abdullah II Fund for Development and André Schneider, Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer of the World Economic Forum.
The World Economic Forum on the Middle East will once again gather world leaders in business, politics and society to work on practical steps to promote economic policies for diversification and job creation, engage in new partnerships, and encourage dialogue and understanding. The Forum provides a high-level platform for interaction between leaders whose engagement is essential for progress on the crucial issues. The working theme, “Harnessing Diversity”, reflects the need to build on the social and political diversity of the region, and to create an environment in which new business areas can flourish and grow. In addition, the meeting will be designed to provide a bridge between the region and the rest of the world in an era of deep divisions of understanding.
The programme of the meeting will touch upon the following areas:
• Industries of the Future – exploring the non-traditional business sectors that are opening up new opportunities for investors and entrepreneurs, including Islamic Finance, healthcare, and tourism.• Dialogue – bringing together the various stakeholders in the political conflicts that continue to destabilise the region, including Israel-Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq, and the nuclear ambitions of Iran.• Managing Change – ensuring that economic and political change in the region is based on sound fundamentals and sustainable strategies. The issues under consideration will include infrastructure, resource management, education and competitiveness.“Harnessing Diversity is not only the central theme of our meeting it’s also key to the future of the region. Through the meeting and its outcomes the Forum intends to be a catalyst for positive change for societies in the Middle East, to help them in their aspirations for a more stable, vibrant and prosperous life. Global leaders from all walks of life and in particular from the Middle East, will return to the Dead Sea to work together to capitalize on the inherent diversity of this region. Diversity here has a broader meaning that draws in business diversifications, political pluralism, social richness in terms of gender, faiths, ethnicity and age. Diversity carries the power for indigenous renewal in Middle East,“ said Sherif El Diwany, Director, Middle East & North Africa of the World Economic Forum.
“The Middle East is again at a major crossroads. Politically, the challenges in Palestine, central to the whole region, are being exacerbated by the situation in Lebanon, Iraq and Iran. Economically, development requirements, now have a greater chance of being funded though the windfall profits of regional oil producers. Yet the challenges of interdependence and integration still persist, leaving open the questions surrounding the future of the overwhelming majority of the region’s inhabitants and particularly the youth. The meeting of the World Economic Forum in Jordan next May will present the challenges, debate the issues, and will provide a platform for political, civil and business leaders to offer solutions, ones that we cannot live without,” said Bassem Awadallah.
Note to the Media – media accreditation will start in March 2007, please visit www.weforum.org  for regular updates on the meeting.