Arab World Needs To Integrate, Build Intellectual Capital And Improve

Published December 3rd, 2006 - 02:50 GMT

Domestic Policy To Be Globally Competitive, Says Arab Business Council
The third Annual Meeting of the Arab Business Council came to a successful close in Abu Dhabi today, with the 70-plus business leaders from around the Arab world stressing the need for integration, competitiveness building and the construction of intellectual capital across the region.

The two-day Annual Meeting, themed ‘The Path Forward: The Role of Business’, was hosted in the capital by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and focused on three key priorities:
 Integrating the Arab region successfully into the global economy and leveraging the integration to strengthen the economic links between Arab states.
 Creating a policy environment to enable and encourage competitive economic performance, greater social and gender equity, and stronger flows of domestic, intra-regional and foreign investment within, and into, the Arab region.
 Building the intellectual capital – through better schooling, commercial, technical and scientific education and training, and research and development – needed to strengthen and sustain Arab competitiveness.

The Council, a high-level World Economic Forum initiative formed in 2003 to build cooperation between business leaders and government and among leading corporate institutions to boost competitiveness in the Arab world, drew senior government ministers from across the region, including UAE Foreign Minister HH Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, HH UAE Minister for Economy and Planning Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi and senior government delegations from the Levant, Arabian Peninsula and North Africa.

Council Chairman Shafik Gabr said: “Success in all three areas is essential if we are to achieve economic progress and social advancement while bringing about a renaissance of Arab culture. The Arab Business Council recognizes that private investments and stability are the only way forward to regional competitiveness, economic growth and development.”

Gabr said the Council had discussed Abu Dhabi as a case study of how to ensure economic development while maintaining its history and culture. He also added that the Council had significantly advanced its goals via the internal consultations and discussions held during the two-day process.

An ABC-financed comprehensive study on US-MENA trade agreements was also launched at the meeting. The study records a 50 per cent increase in intra-regional trade, but also points to the policy fragmentation that currently exists amongst trade partners in the region. It also highlights issues that urgently need to be resolved to pave the way for a stronger Arab trade community.

Regional crises such as Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon were also an important focus of the discussions.




“Although the members of the ABC are engaged primarily in economic activities, we all recognize that business does not operate in a vacuum,” Gabr said. “We cannot afford to ignore the political and security challenges facing our region and indeed the world. Business leaders have an obligation to act as responsible corporate citizens in exercising stewardship of the interests of their stakeholders. We are convinced that our ability to drive forward the economic and social progress that has defined the region in the past three years will be greatly strengthened if a comprehensive peace agreement and a well-structured regional security pact can be crafted by our governments.”

The 2006 ABC Annual Meeting is supported by Mubadala Development Company, Al Qudra Holding, Gulf Capital and Abraaj Capital.


About the Arab Business Council

The Arab Business Council (ABC) was formed at the World Economic Forum’s Extraordinary Annual Meeting in Jordan in June 2003, in response to the growing development gap between MENA countries and the developed world as well as many developing countries. It is currently composed of 75 Arab business leaders who are committed to the mission of ‘Enhancing Competitiveness of the Arab World’ and to equip their societies to compete effectively in the global economy, and to contribute to the development of an equitable regional and global society.

Today, in its fourth year of existence, the Council has become firmly established as an effective representative of the Arab business community, regionally and globally. It works closely with regional governments and those from G8 countries, India and China, as well as international organizations and civil society, on priority policy reform issues in areas such as investment, trade, education and media, and on promoting cultural exchange.

About the World Economic Forum

The World Economic Forum s an independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging leaders in partnerships to shape global, regional and industry agendas.

Incorporated as a foundation in 1971, 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.

For more on the World Economic Forum or Arab Business Council, visit



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