Arab Business Council launched on closing of World Economic Forum summit in Jordan

Published June 24th, 2003 - 02:00 GMT

On the closing day of the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Extraordinary Annual Meeting in Jordan, Middle East business leaders have decided to launch the Arab Business Council (ABC), which will advise the WEF on issues of key importance to the Arab world for inclusion on the agenda of the WEF Annual Meeting.  


Consisting of more than 50 of the region's top business leaders, the council will create cooperative action among leading members of the Arab corporate sector to enhance the competitiveness of the Arab region and to further its integration into the global economy.  


Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Council Shafiq Gabr said: “Globalization confronts us with great challenges. Slow growth, weak investment flows and perceived instability currently mar the region’s potential. The Arab Business Council of the WEF has been created to help address these challenges. We stand ready to work with our governments in enhancing our competitiveness and enabling the region to take its rightful place in the global economy.” 


The Executive Committee of the Council has adopted declarations on accounting and audit standards and corporate social responsibility, and covenants on corporate governance and combating corruption and bribery. These represent a commitment to promote global best practice standards in the Arab business sector.  


“From this platform, and working with the World Economic Forum’s extensive community of global leaders from the private and public sectors, the Arab Business Council will be able to restore a constructive dialogue between our region and the most developed economies,” said Gabr. “We plan two international private-sector meetings over the next year and a broad program of consultation with our own governments.” 


US Secretary of State Colin Powell and US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick gave more details on the proposed US-Arab Free Trade Agreement (FTA), aimed at providing the Arab world with opportunities for sustained development and opportunities for the region to increase its share of the world’s largest markets.  


Commenting on the US announcement, Gabr said: “This initiative offers potentially huge rewards. But our public and private sectors will need to work together to secure these benefits. Winning in global competition demands exceptional skills. We must develop these, in partnership, so as to take advantage of the opportunities.” 


Frédéric Sicre, Managing Director of the World Economic Forum, welcomed the formation of the Arab Business Council. “The WEF promotes multi-stakeholder dialogue as the most effective means of improving the state of the world. We are proud to be associated with this initiative by leading members of our Arab business constituency and will actively support their efforts to integrate the Arab world more effectively into the global economy.” 


50 leading companies have come together to form the Council. An Executive Committee of seven members—Mohamed A. Alabbar, Vice-Chairman, Dubai Aluminium Company, United Arab Emirates; Amr A. Al Dabbagh, President and Chief Executive Officer, Dabbagh Group Holding, Saudi Arabia; Ibrahim Dabdoub, Chief Executive Officer, National Bank of Kuwait, Kuwait; M. Shafiq Gabr, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Artoc Group for Investment & Development, Egypt; Fadi Ghandour, President and Chief Executive Officer, Aramex International, Jordan; Bassim Jai Hokimi, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Groupe ONA (Omnium Nord Africain), Morocco; Lubna S. Olayan, Chief Executive Officer, Olayan Financing Company, Saudi Arabia – has elected Shafiq Gabr as the first Chairman of the ABC.  


The World Economic Forum is an independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world. The Forum provides a collaborative framework for the world's leaders to address global issues, engaging particularly its corporate members in global citizenship.  


Incorporated as a foundation, and based in Geneva, Switzerland, the World Economic Forum is impartial and not-for-profit; it is tied to no political, partisan or national interests. The Forum has NGO consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. — ( 

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