Haykal: Entrepreneurship-enabled Arab cities can reverse drain brain

Published October 20th, 2009 - 09:49 GMT

Abdulsalam Haykal, CEO of the Syrian software giant Transtek Systems, spoke at Yale Arab Alumni Association’s conference on the future of Arab cities, which took place in Beirut yesterday. During the session on entrepreneurship, Haykal stressed for youth initiative to thrive in the Arab city, the “freedom ingredient has to be abundant.” The three forms of expression for young people are to “submit, quit, or challenge,” adding that entrepreneurship cannot boom as long as more Arabs submit or quit, depriving their societies of potential leaders that can challenge. “However, for people to challenge, they have to be given a space of freedom to be, to do, and to give,” he added.
Haykal, a regional media and technology entrepreneur, called for “entrepreneurship-enabled Arab cities,” close to university campuses with R&D activities, where quality of life is attractive, and the community has a positive attitude towards private initiative. Such cities can help “reverse the brain drain,” if they succeed in creating markets beyond existing boundaries. “Lebanon alone is 4-million-people market. Jordan alone is the same. Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Palestine, and Iraq create together a cloud of 180 million people,” he added. In closing, Haykal, who is also president of the Syrian Young Entrepreneurs Association, warned against identifying entrepreneurship with poverty eradication, emphasizing that this “sets the bar too low for entrepreneurs who are by definition innovators, change makers, and leaders sought after around the world.” Speaking at the same conference were Ziad Barud, Lebanese Minister of Interior and Municipalities, Nobel Laureate Rajendra Pachauri, Director of the Yale Climate and Energy Institute, Peter Dorman, President of the American University of Beirut, and Talal Shair, CEO of Dar Al-Handasah.

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