The Arab world is facing severe political, economic and security challenges, which countries have to address together with the international community, said Abdelfattah Said Hussein Alsisi, the President of Egypt.
He was addressing business, government and civil society leaders participating in the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa in Jordan on Friday.
Efforts “can only be successful through close cooperation between governments, the private sector and civil-society organisations so that the root causes of these challenges can be diagnosed and the means of overcoming them determined. In this way the aspirations of the Arab peoples for progress and development will be realised," he said
More than 1,000 business and political leaders and representatives of civil society, international organizations, youth and the media from over 50 countries are participating at the summit under the theme, Creating a Regional Framework for Prosperity and Peace through Public-Private Cooperation.
Transforming the Middle East and North Africa will require focusing on the region’s young people, President Alsisi said.
“Enhancing the role of the youth can no longer be considered a luxury. It has become an imperative. Their energy should be channelled in the right direction to drive production and realize the desired progress and development.”
This will require public-private cooperation, the president argued.
“The challenge posed by the issue of investing in youth is not just an item on the agendas of governments, but a key issue that should constitute an area of cooperation and integration of efforts between the government and business sectors. We are all in the same boat.”
Engaging youth must be part of efforts to achieve peace, stability and sustainable development, amid social and political stresses, Alsisi noted.
“The intellectual stagnation emanating from extremism and religious and sectarian fanaticism is increasing in severity, as a result of despair, frustration and the decline in values of justice in all its forms. Therefore, our efforts to eliminate extremism and terrorism must be coupled with endeavours towards realizing a future where freedom, equality and pluralism prevail, and that is free of oppression, injustice and exclusion.”
Speaking after Alsisi, Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian National Authority and chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization Executive Committee, echoed the Egyptian president’s concerns about sectarian conflicts.
“These are causing divisions in all countries,” he warned. “This has led to several terrorist groups using religion as an excuse for perpetrating criminal acts.”
On the prospects for a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Abbas expressed hope that “we will be able to overcome difficulties and hardships” to achieve an agreement that will “enable our people to obtain their freedom and independence”.
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