By Andy Sambidge
World Economic Forum announces special meeting to address issues in the region
The World Economic Forum announced on Monday plans to hold a special meeting on economic growth and job creation in the Arab world.
It said recent shifts in the Arab world, coupled with an economic contraction at the global level, have created renewed urgency for decision-makers across the region to address the unfolding economic situation.
Responding to this evolving landscape, the World Economic Forum said it will hold the talks in Jordan from October 21-23.
“Job creation has emerged as the key imperative in the Arab World,” said Børge Brende, managing director, Government Relations and Constituents Engagement, World Economic Forum.
“This special meeting will gather key decision-makers from business, government and civil society to address the challenges and opportunities for job creation. Topping the list of essential elements for job creation in this region are employment, education and entrepreneurship, especially among the youth populations.”
The meeting will bring together more than 1,000 participants from more than 50 countries and the programme will focus on best practices in economic policy.
The discussions will be set against the backdrop of entrepreneurship and job creation to drive sustained growth and development in the region, the WEF said in a statement.
The co-chairs will include Mohammed H Al Mady, vice-chairman and CEO, Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC), Saudi Arabia; Muhtar A Kent, chairman and CEO, The Coca-Cola Company, USA; and Maurice Lévy, chairman and CEO, Publicis Groupe, France.
Nasser Lozi, chairman of the Board of Trustees, King Abdullah II Fund for Development, Jordan, said: “This past year has seen all eyes turned toward our region and we are proud to partner with the World Economic Forum to advance dialogue and collective action in the most critical areas of education and entrepreneurship.”
The meeting will also feature Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabr Al Thani, Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Qatar; Asif Ali Zardari, President of Pakistan; Traian Basescu, President of Romania; Salam Fayyad, Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority; and Barham Salih, Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Iraq.
In total, ministers from eight countries will attend along with more than 65 public figures from around the globe, including Tony Blair, UN Middle East Quartet representative.
Our research suggests that treating the issue as an employment problem (often targeted using 'quotas' or similar instruments) is less effective than seeing it as a challange to create the strategic capabilities required to achieve national objectives. Luckily, many of the Arab countries have well-defined strategies which clearly state their key strategic industries and markets as well as societal and economic goals. This makes it possible to identify very specific capabilities which nationals will need if the country is to achieve those objectives. Once the capabilities are carefully defined, then education, training, economic support and enrepreneurial help can be directed with precision. Given time then coordinated policies are able to produce world-class capabilities in any population.
The new economy requires new ways of thinking. To move forward, we will have to overcome our natural tendency to stay with the familiar, and thus to resist change, in order to actually DO things differently. We need to avoid the typical â€œold economyâ€ quick fix â€œband-aidâ€ solutions, and rather utilize vision, strategy, planning, focused leadership and subsequent ACTION in order to accomplish long-term sustainable change. Effective management development will be critical to re-energizing our private and public sector organizations. Capable managers improve performance, facilitate innovation and encourage internal entrepreneurship (or create new successful enterprises), and in turn are directly responsible for achieving real organizational growth and sustainable job creation. We need to learn from past mistakes and always remember that - band-aids eventually fall off.
Pity uk does not take this advice.
Governments here and everywhere will rather go for the legislation as it is simple, tangible and very cost effective (from the Gov. perspective). It is much easier to mandate quotas, and it actually costs nothing than changing the mindset and educational background. It passes the problem to someone else (private sector) or in the GCC time can be bought with public employment. In the end you are just moving money form one pocket to another (and that if you are lucky)
Second best is great declarations.
Governments are incredibly ineffective in promoting this kind of change, if you want a great example check the Lisbon Agenda (2000) that was supposed to make Europe "the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion" by 2010.
So I hope you will excuse my skepticism about "many of the Arab countries have well-defined strategies which clearly state their key strategic industries"