Enriching the Middle East's Economic Future Conference Opens
HE Qatar's Minister of Economy and Finance, Yousef Hussein Kamal has voiced optimism towards the future of the Arab area in view of the ongoing popular uprisings demanding more freedom and development. However, he said patience was needed to reap the fruits, probably in more than a year or two. Addressing the opening session of Enriching the Middle East's Economic Conference held on Monday evening at Sheraton Doha in parallel with the 11th Doha Forum For Democracy Development and Free Trade , the minister said it was an honour for Qatar to host the forum, in both its political and economic aspects, continuously for 10 years.
"Qatar hosts this year's Doha Forum For Democracy Development and Free Trade and Enriching the Middle East''s Economic Future Conference amid great political changes in the region", the minister said. Kamal said the event is held in different circumstances than previous years due to the recent deep economic and socio-political changes in a number of Arab countries. Good will, good governance and long term-planning strategies are key elements to reinvigorate economy, he said. Kamal said education, health, economic development are also pillars for any economic reform. "Unfortunately the proposals, which had been presented during the previous forums were not taken into consideration, which might explain the consequences being noted recently in a number of Arab countries", he said. "There are no excuses to not prepare economic programs and strategies for the region", the minister said , explaining the difficulty to implement economic reforms. He put the accent on the responsibility assumed by the decision maker in terms of the importance of patriotism and good will aimed at establishing economic reforms, referring in this regard to Qatar''s experience over the past 15 years. " We have to assess our available resources in order to achieve the expected targets", Kamal said, pointing to the Swiss experience , which has overcome ethnic and language difficulties, and that of Singapore. "Countries, which have poor natural resources have not missed the opportunity to be among powerful countries by investing in education", he concluded. For his part, Director of the Centre for Middle East Development (CMED), UCLA Professor of Political Science, Prof. Steven L. Spiegel has taken pride in being a partner in hosting the Doha Forum for over six years. "Tomorrow we will get the first ever report from Switzerland and Sweden on a better use of water in this region," he said. Participants are also to discuss different means and aspects of building up economy, including sport, media, art, water, energy, etc... Chancellor at the University of California Los Angeles, UCLA, Dr. Gene Block highlighted the important role of university research in economic development process, referring to the US universities experience in this regards, noting that the United States spends more than 1.1 billion dlrs in research investment, which makes it one of the biggest investors in this sector. Given the theme of this conference, he noted the role of education in the next generations of leaders, scientists, experts and others. Research units represent a capital in helping the development of human capital in the global world, he said. The conference discusses a number of issues related to the economic roots and causes of discontent, Asia's changing role in the region, the role of franchise in the regional economy and local business, innovations for green economy as well as the Middle East economy during regional turmoil.