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WEF 2017

Globalising entrepreneurship requires respect, inclusiveness — panelists

By - May 21,2017 - Last updated at May 22,2017

This year’s World Economic Forum saw the participation of 100 Arab start-ups, including 21 from Jordan (Photo courtesy of WEF website)

DEAD SEA — As young entrepreneurs are crossing geographic borders, the promotion of values of inclusiveness and respect for the “other” have become of utmost importance, entrepreneurs and social leaders agreed on Sunday.

Speakers at two panel discussions on the last day of the World Economic Forum (WEF) on the Middle East and North Africa agreed on the need for governments, the private sector, civil society organisations and religious leaders to embark on a mission to deepen values of respect, in order to build a more hopeful future.

Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister of Lebanon Ghassan Hasbani said taking practical actions to implement what has been discussed in the WEF meetings is essential for achieving further inclusion and giving hope to the region’s youth.

Citing his country’s experience, he highlighted that the lack of inclusion has led to social and economic conflicts and has allowed certain groups to strive for supremacy, noting that the time has come for reconciliation and inclusion in the region.

One way of doing that is through supporting entrepreneurs in all sectors, not only those who have created startups, Hasbani added.

Director of the Najaf-based Hikmeh Centre for Dialogue and Cooperation, Sayed Salih Al Hakim, said each generation has to do everything possible to enable more progress and improvements for the next generation.

He emphasised that dialogue with the “other” is the best way to find the truth, underlining the need for religious leaders to play a larger role in promoting values that help both individuals and states to grow.

Al Hakim added that religious differences must not be reflected in politics, as a civil state respects all religions and does not force its religious ideology on citizens.

Although women comprise nearly half of the region’s population, they do not witness adequate inclusion in the job market in particular, and in public life in general, according to Khadija Idrissi Janati, CEO of KMK Group.

To address this issue, Noor Al Hassan, CEO of Tarjama, a Dubai-based translation company, said the company employs women from 8 countries and allows them to work from home, adding that there are currently 60 fulltime employees and 350 freelancers working for Tarjama.

As a representative of the 100 regional startups selected to participate in the forum, Abdulla Elyas, co-founder of Careem ride-hailing application, said the majority of the startups participating in the WEF 2017 were founded by people from the region who studied or lived abroad and then decided to come back to build something meaningful in the region.

He said Careem is one of two tech-unicorns, a term that refers to start-up companies valued at over $1 billion, emphasising that tech-unicorns are not exclusive to the Silicon Valley.

 

“Other myths will be proven wrong along the way,” he said.  

‘Technology a tool to be used to help solve water crisis’

By - May 21,2017 - Last updated at May 21,2017

DEAD SEA – The role of technology in mitigating the acute shortage of water, which jeopardises the livelihoods of millions of people worldwide, especially in times of mass migration, was the highlight of a World Economic Forum (WEF) session that brought together experts on water and technology solutions. 

Desertification, poor agricultural practices, scarce water resources and government water subsidies are some of the challenges facing the MENA region today, the panelists noted during a session held on the sidelines of the WEF under the title “Racing against the Clock: The Water Crisis”. 

Fostering cross-border partnerships, introducing new technologies, improving the management of the region’s water resources and engaging the private sector in efforts to address water problems were among the experts’ recommendations. 

“There is a need for a holistic and multi-sector perspective to be able to drive progress. Everyone has a role to play, whether it is through new technologies, funding, monitoring or implementation. Partnerships are a powerful way forward,” noted Sanjeev Chadha, CEO of Pepsi-Co International in Asia, Middle East and North Africa. 

He noted that “as the largest beverage company and a significant food company, we have an important responsibility in the water sector. We set goals in 2006/2015 and were able to meet them. We improved our water efficiency by 25 per cent all over the world and 50 per cent in the region”.

“We also made a positive impact in India and Jordan in terms of water efficiency and treatment,” Chadha noted.

In Jordan, Pepsi-Co has managed to achieve its 20/25 goal in replenishing more water than it consumes in its manufacturing process over the last two years, according to its representative. 

With 85 per cent of the region’s water resources going to the agricultural sector, due to poor agricultural practices, the experts called for improving transparency and accountability among decision-makers. 

On the other hand, Fayez Husseini, managing director of Al Shorouq in the West Bank, highlighted the challenges Gaza is facing to secure water today. 

 

“Gaza is in a very dire situation. In many ways, we view this as a testbed. We have to deal with the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, which is the recognised authority, Hamas in Gaza and Israel, which is the overarching authority there, but they have security concerns,” he said.   

Experts call for holistic energy strategy for region

By - May 21,2017 - Last updated at May 21,2017

DEAD SEA – Energy experts on Sunday called for a holistic energy strategy for the region, noting that poor planning is a challenge to the sustainability of energy solutions. 

Speaking during a session held on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF), they said that, despite being one of the largest supplier of energy, the region requires secure, effective and more affordable energy systems to ensure a sustainable future. 

Transformations taking place in the “global energy architecture” and recent energy reforms require a long-term energy vision that is more resilient to changes, the panelists highlighted. 

“It is true that energy systems in the region vary from country to country, but there is an overall need to mix energies between the traditional and renewable. The integration of both of them is what ensures their sustainability,” said Willibald Mexiner, CEO of Siemens’ power and gas division.  

For Majid Jafar, CEO of Crescent Petroleum in the UAE and co-chair of the WEF in the Middle East and North Africa region, there are three main challenges facing the region today in terms of energy. 

“The first is that we are underperforming in terms of our potential. We have half the world’s oil and gas, but we are only third in oil production and only sixth in gas production. We are also losing out on new and emerging technologies from the US and elsewhere due to our consumption patterns and subsidies,” he noted. 

Jafar added that region “uses too much” when it comes to traditional energy sources. 

“The main form of clean energy is to use less,” he said, noting that consumption habits cannot be changed without revising subsidies and the pricing of energy.

The third energy challenge facing the region, according to Jafar, is “learning from the mistakes of others”. 

“This idea that we are in a new energy world [is false]. The reality is that 80 per cent or more of energy still comes from fossil fuels and only 2 per cent comes from renewables, despite the tens of billions that have been invested,” he noted. 

Iraqi Minister of Oil Jabbar Al Luaibi agreed, adding that some consider renewable energy as a substitute for traditional sources, which he argued is false. 

“Poor planning is the problem. Traditional energy resources will remain for decades and decades to come, but will continue to suffer if no effective planning is in place,” he highlighted, noting that 90 per cent of Iraq’s energy resources are in the form of oil and gas. 

“I believe that renewable and traditional energies should be developed simultaneously in the region,” the Iraqi official said during the session, moderated by news anchor, Afin Yurdakul. 

 

Stressing the significant role that public-private partnerships can play in addressing countries’ energy challenges, Sarah Mousa from the World Bank underlined the need for countries in the region to adopt schemes that allow the “grassroots” to introduce their own energy solutions. 

‘Jordan Internet for All’ project launched

By - May 21,2017 - Last updated at May 21,2017

Attendees at the launch event of a new platform project called ‘Jordan Internet for All’ by Jordan and the World Economic Forum at the Dead Sea on Sunday (Petra photo)

DEAD SEA — Jordan and the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Sunday launched a new platform project called “Jordan Internet for All”, which aims to bring  Internet access to millions of Jordanians, including women and isolated communities for the first time through new models of public-private collaboration, a senior government official said. 

The project, which is aligned with Jordan’s Digital Transformation Strategy, will focus on addressing the barriers that prevent universal Internet access, in particular promoting demand for Internet use, Minister of  ICT Majd Shweikeh said at a press conference Sunday. 

This will be implemented by focusing on empowering women to use the Internet, facilitating the development of more relevant online content in Arabic and improving e-government services, she said. 

There will also be a work stream in the project which will focus on helping refugees to integrate into Jordanian society through use of the Internet, the minister said, adding that the initiative will be of a great value to both the Jordanian economy and society.

Shweikeh said the initiative will foster Jordan’s process of digitisation and will help improve the performance of the public sector, noting that Internet penetration in Jordan stands at about 85 per cent, while mobile penetration is around 150 per cent.

The initiative will help in efforts to empower women, adopt e-government services and support entrepreneurship, the minister said.

Internet for All is a global project of the WEF to accelerate Internet access and adoption through a multi-stakeholder platform, according to a WEF statement. 

Companies such as Cisco, Ericsson, Huawei, Microsoft and Zain work together on this platform with government, civil society, academia and international organisations to develop and scale new Internet access models, attract and coordinate investments, and align programming, the statement said.

Andrew Harper, former UNHCR representative to Jordan, stressed the importance of the scheme.

“Refugees are here and empowering them by providing them with connectivity will help them contribute to the countries of the region,” Harper said.

Harper added that refugees can contribute to the digital transformation as well, saying that such initiatives will help refugees move away from the dependency model.

Commenting on the initiative, Ahmed Hanandeh, chief executive officer of  Zain Jordan, said: “Everyone deserves access to the opportunities of the Internet. At Zain, we are well aware of the transformational power connectivity plays in improving the quality of life of people and communities, and we look forward to this latest public-private partnership bolstering our efforts to foster the growth of Jordan’s digital and general economy. 

“We see this initiative acting as a catalyst in accelerating socio-economic growth and creating more jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities for the growing youth population, while enhancing the livelihoods of the many refugees residing in Jordan.”

Hanandeh added that telecommunications companies in Jordan are investing heavily in the development of infrastructure to meet the rising consumption of data.

 

Country-level Internet for All platforms are already operating in Argentina, Rwanda, South Africa and Uganda, where they have so far succeeded in developing major projects such as Rwanda’s Digital Ambassadors Programme, a skills development activity that will train 5,000 trainers who will work in rural Rwanda to teach digital skills to 5 million people, according to the statement.

‘2017 WEF one of best summits in region, world’

By - May 21,2017 - Last updated at May 21,2017

DEAD SEA — The World Economic Forum (WEF) on the Middle East and North Africa 2017 was "one of the best summits" held in the region and across the world, a senior forum representative said on Sunday.

The forum, which was held from Friday to Sunday at the Dead Sea, realised its two major goals of providing a platform for young people in the region to share "good narratives" and holding discussions on political and geopolitical issues in the region, said Philipp Rosler, a member of the WEF's managing board. 

He said the 100 Start-up Initiative enabled 100 selected start-ups from the region to engage in dialogue with officials and the business community, expecting these start-ups to create momentum in their countries and encourage others to excel.

“Entrepreneurs from several countries in the region, including Libya, Lebanon, Palestine, Yemen and Jordan, engaged in dynamic discussions with country leaders and senior officials,” he said. 

He added that some 500 start-ups also took part in the open forum, which was held in Amman for the first time ahead of the main sessions.

Discussion of political and geopolitical issues covered the majority of conflicts affecting the region, including the issue of refugees and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Rosler noted.

Meanwhile, the WEF official said all this was made possible by Jordan’s hosting of the event.

“Jordan is an extraordinarily good host and we made the decision long time ago to come back every other year to Jordan, a symbol of stability,” he underlined.

At the same time, the forum was also beneficial for Jordan. 

Two days before the summit kicked off, around 25 business leaders, civil society representatives and politicians took part in visits to three refugee camps and development zones in order to get a closer look at the conditions of the local community.

“The rest of the world is always not aware of what Jordan takes in terms of refugees,” he said, adding that Jordan has brought the challenges it is facing to the table of discussion.

On the regional scale, a number of companies committed during the summit to creating jobs and providing vocational training opportunities in a bid to enhance the employability of young people in the region. 

The WEF has a project in Europe to connect start-ups with Silicon Valley and is currently negotiating the possibility of connecting the Middle East through a similar partnership, as young people in this region are “as creative, dynamic and entrepreneurial as their colleagues in the Silicon Valley, Europe or Asia”, the official noted.

 

Touching on political discussions, he said the summit included many private meetings between politicians and officials that will be “benefitting the region”.

WEF concludes by highlighting Jordan’s ‘big role’ in initiatives

‘Jordan Internet for All’ project cited as major achievement this year

By - May 21,2017 - Last updated at May 21,2017

DEAD SEA —  The World Economic Forum (WEF), which witnessed several discussions on pressing regional issues and the launch of several programmes and initiatives, concluded at the Dead Sea on Sunday.

Speaking during the last session of the forum, Mirek Dusek, head of the forum's regional strategies, said: "We launched two big initiatives in Jordan. Jordan is playing a very big role in Internet for All, which is looking at the digital infrastructure in Jordan and among Syrian refugees.

“We also launched a new partnership called the Sustainable Development Initiative partnership where Jordan is becoming the regional hub for enabling blended finance for infrastructure projects."

"We had an amazing meeting of global shapers who are people under 30 doing amazing things in their own environments…we also had dialogue between Palestinian, Israeli and Arab leaders on the Israeli and Palestinian dialogue and many other initiatives," Dusek stated.

The forum, he said, witnessed diverse participation from many countries.

Prime Minister Hani Mulki deputised for His Majesty King Abdullah at the conclusion of the forum, where HRH Prince Feisal was present.

More than 1,200 business and political leaders as well as representatives from civil society and international organisations, youth and the media from over 60 countries participated in this year’s forum, held under the theme “Enabling a Generational Transformation”.

A major outcome of the 2017 World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa included the participation of 100 Arab start-ups.

Most of the 100 start-ups are building their business models, products and services on new technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain and satellite technology — pioneering a generational transformation in the Middle East and North Africa — while closing region-specific gaps in products and services.

A new report titled “Future of Jobs and Skills in MENA: Preparing the Region for the Fourth Industrial Revolution”, was also launched. It found that few MENA economies are fully prepared for the impending disruption to jobs and skills brought about by technological change. 

Jordan became the 36th member of the Sustainable Development Investment Partnership (SDIP), a multistakeholder platform promoting blended finance to unlock financing for sustainable infrastructure projects in developing countries. 

The first meeting of the SDIP MENA Hub brought together a core group of regional institutions to promote greater financing of projects throughout the region.

The meeting saw the launch of the Palestinian Education Trust, a $100-million fund to transform the Palestinian education system, with $10 million already committed.

WEF and Jordan officially launched the Jordan Internet for All project while the Centre for Economic Growth, INSEAD and Google released the MENA Talent Competitiveness Index. 

 

Diversifying the economy, reducing public intervention in the markets, providing opportunities to young people and improving the innovation ecosystem were listed as the key challenges that the region will face in the coming years. They will be the subject of further research that will be conducted jointly with the World Bank Group in preparation of the Arab World Competitiveness Report 2017.

World Economic Forum opens with call to support youth

‘Arab youth want a fair chance, to be heard and to make a difference’ — Crown Prince

By - May 20,2017 - Last updated at May 20,2017

Their Majesties King Abdullah and Queen Rania attend the World Economic Forum, along with world leaders, at the Dead Sea on Saturday (Photo courtesy of Royal Court)

DEAD SEA — HRH Crown Prince Hussein on Saturday said Arab youth want a fair chance to be heard and to make a difference, stressing the need for financially and morally supporting young entrepreneurs in the region.

Addressing the World Economic Forum, which was inaugurated by His Majesty King Abdullah in the presence of Her Majesty Queen Rania, the Crown Prince highlighted the uniqueness of young people in the region, and their swift adoption of new technologies that contributed to successful start-ups.

"What Arab youth want is what youth everywhere wants: a fair chance, a chance to be heard, a chance to make a difference. What is unique to Arab youth, though, is a yearning and thirst that I have not seen anywhere else. Perhaps, that’s because our dire circumstances make us cling more tightly to hope," Crown Prince Hussein said at the forum, which attracted over 1,100 political and business leaders from more than 50 countries.

"Our young people need a region-wide support system for opportunity, access, and hope. That is why your partnership — all of you in this hall — is so vital," he stated.

"For young people everywhere, including those who form the large majority in my region, transformation is the reality we were born into. For us, continuous innovation is part of the rhythm of life. We grew up embracing new technologies, apps, and processes that give us new ways to connect, learn, and work. Constant change is our status quo," he said.

Speaking at the forum, King Felipe VI of Spain and Iraqi President Fuad Massoum also stressed on the need for continued support to the youth, which they referred to as the “engine for growth and development”.

“Like young people everywhere, the youth of the Middle East is living in this vast sea of change, but the region’s particular waters are characterised by two opposing currents,” the Crown Prince said, adding: “Both are forceful and potent, but each is pulling us towards drastically different shores”.

“On one side is a treacherous tide, luring our youth towards a dark reality — one that sinks us deeper into violence, intolerance, and regression, through the corrosive power of an extremist ideology; the other transporting us to sunnier shores, where moderation sees our Muslim and Arab identities at peace with modernity and progress, a reality where we can be productive and positive contributors to the world around us,” he added

“We are not drifters. When it comes to where the tide will take us, the choice is ours to make,” Prince Hussein said.

Highlighting the tech-savvy aspect of the youth in the Middle East, the crown prince said: “Young people in our region are the heaviest users of social media and the Internet. We are the most likely to have smartphones. We are the gamers and the texters. We are the medical students who use the web to connect to global knowledge. We are the young entrepreneurs who build markets and scale up using digital tech.”

He added that young people in the region are not solely adopters of technology.

“The youth of our region are not satisfied just to adopt and adapt global technology. Beyond being mere consumers, I am proud to say that — especially here in Jordan — you will meet young men and women who are spearheading innovation and change. They have produced new-era products and services, new Arabic-language web content, new ideas that can serve our region and our world. During the course of this forum, you will hear some of these innovators talk about their work and challenges,” he said, referring to the participation of 21 Jordanian start-ups who were named in this forum among the 100 best in the region. 

As everything, including markets, professions, trade and industry, technology and the skills needed to harness these changes are transforming, there is a need for people to keep pace, the Crown Prince said.

“Instant gratification can be a dangerous and false expectation for my generation. Making it to the top takes time, dedication, and a great deal of diligence,” he added.

In his address to the audience, King Felipe VI of Spain said one of the constant ambitions of Spanish foreign policy has been to foster the cooperation between Europe and both Middle Eastern and North African countries, highlighting the forum as a unique opportunity to advance this cooperation.

“We are facing a very serious crisis that challenges the very foundations of a world order that is, with no doubt, in need of improvements and transformations. But that is also based on highly valued principles: the sovereignty and independence of states, the respect of human rights, the benefits of free trade and the mobility of people,” the Spanish King noted.

Stressing the need to join forces in a determined manner to achieve the desired objectives, he said Jordan sets an example and “shows us the way” in this regard.

“First, by behaving with generosity in hosting such a huge number of refugees that have been tragically obliged to leave their homes because of war and despair…Also, by acting with bravery, leading the fight against those whose only argument is terror and who represent the common enemy for us all.  And, finally, by persevering in its message of peace, dialogue and the pursuit of an inclusive and sustainable development,” the Spanish monarch said.

Jordan is also an example of constructive engagement with the whole international community, he said.

Regarding security, he stressed it as a “shared need”, saying: “We cannot isolate the threats nor the challenges we face, nor can we deal with them on our own, since they are more pervasive and agile than ever, travel faster and ignore all national or regional boundaries.”

He stressed on the key role of education in addressing challenges, calling for working together with the whole world and friends in the region to rise up to the challenges and seize the opportunities. 

For his part, Iraqi President Fuad Massoum referred to recent successes by the Iraqi army in defeating Daesh in Mosul, saying that combating terrorism and alleviating poverty and unemployment should go hand in hand.

“Education, I believe, is the best way to combat poverty….The reconstruction of Iraq should also go through social and economic development,” the Iraqi president said at the forum.

He stated that investments and development were key to realising the sustainable development goals.

Speaking at the forum, President of Niger Mahamadou Issoufou called for coordinated efforts and increased collaboration in the fight against terrorism and criminal activities.

He highlighted the need for increased aid by the donor community, stressing that education is key for addressing the plethora of challenges facing the region.

 

Creating jobs, he said, is necessary to limit the number of migrants, thousands of whom die while trying to leave to other countries via the desert and across the Mediterranean.

‘No decision yet on Jordan-based German airbase’

By - May 20,2017 - Last updated at May 20,2017

DEAD SEA — Jordan has a potential to host German troops, but no decision has been made yet, German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen said Saturday.

Referring to a possible German airbase in Jordan, the minister said it holds some potential as an alternative for German troops currently located in Turkey's Incirlik Airbase.

"There is a lot of potential in the airbase and we were very grateful for a very positive reception and a lot of support," the minister said at a press conference on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum held at the Dead Sea.

The minister said it is important to be prepared "in case we have to move".

However, the minister noted that no final decision has been made yet, as talks with Turkey are still ongoing.

Stressing the importance for the German parliamentary members to be able to visit their troops, she said it was still difficult for them to visit the troops based in Turkey.

On Wednesday, Germany said it was considering moving the 250 troops deployed at Turkey’s Incirlik base to Jordan to help in the fight against Daesh militants, citing Ankara’s refusal to grant German lawmakers access to the site, Reuters reported.

Turkish officials have told Reuters that a visit by German lawmakers to German soldiers at the Incirlik base in order to provide logistical support to the US-led coalition would not be appropriate at the moment.

 

The deepening row has further soured relations that became increasingly strained ahead of a constitutional referendum in Turkey, which recently handed President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sweeping new powers, according to the news agency.

King meets foreign leaders, excelling Jordanians at WEF

By - May 20,2017 - Last updated at May 20,2017

His Majesty King Abdullah meets with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades during the World Economic forum on Saturday (Photo courtesy of Royal Court)

AMMAN — His Majesty King Abdullah on Saturday held a series of meetings with heads of state and senior officials, as part of the World Economic Forum, which focused on means of enhancing bilateral relations and regional developments.

King Abdullah and President of Macedonia Gjorge Ivanov reiterated the importance of activating economic agreements signed between the two countries, according to a Royal Court statement.

They also discussed efforts aimed at fighting terrorism and extremism within a holistic approach, as they have become a global threat to peace and security.

His Majesty also met with President of Kosovo Hashim Thaçi, to whom he reaffirmed the importance of enhancing political cooperation between the two countries, and exerting regional and international efforts in the war against terrorism. 

King Abdullah’s meeting with President of Niger Mahamadou Issoufou focused on enhancing bilateral ties and the war on terrorism, in addition to the latest developments in the Middle East.

During the meeting with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, both leaders discussed bilateral relations and means to develop them at various levels.

They also went over the burdens Jordan is shouldering as a result of hosting Syrian refugees. Anastasiades praised the Kingdom’s efforts in this regard, and called on the international community to support Jordan to help it continue presenting humanitarian and relief assistance to refugees.

During another meeting, the King and Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili discussed ways to develop bilateral relations, especially in the economic and investment fields, as well as regional developments and the war on terrorism.

Discussions focused on the importance of opening a direct flight between Jordan and Georgia, which would contribute to boosting economic and tourist relations, as well as starting partnerships between both countries’ private sectors.

His Majesty and Federica Mogherini, the high representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, discussed cooperation and strategic partnership relations between the Kingdom and the EU, in addition to regional issues.

Mogherini stressed that the Kingdom constitutes an important stability factor in the Middle East, praising its regional role in the Syrian crisis. 

The Monarch also held separate meetings with Canadian Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Ahmed Hussen, Foreign Minister of Costa Rica Manuel González Sanz, German Minister of Defence Ursula von der Leyen, Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Borge Brende, World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley and Israeli Knesset member Tzipi Livni.

The meetings mainly focused on means of developing ties between Jordan and these countries and international organisations in various fields, as well as regional developments, the latest crises and the war on terrorism.

King Abdullah also met with a number of prominent Jordanian physicians working in the US, and expressed his pride in Jordanian expatriates’ achievements.

The King later met with a group of Jordanian young people, whose companies were chosen among 100 start-ups to take part in WEF, and voiced his pride in their innovation and entrepreneurship skills.

His Majesty met with Jordanian engineer Abeer Siqali, who designed refugee tents that generate electricity from solar energy and collect rainwater to restore it for later use.

Also on Saturday, the King, in the presence of Her Majesty Queen Rania, and President of Expedia Group Aman Bhutani, looked into ways to utilise the skills of young Jordanians in the ICT sector, which is a key economic driver, contributing 12 per cent of the Kingdom’s GDP. 

Talks also focused on the investment environment in the Kingdom, which enabled it to become a regional hub in this field.

 

Bhutani expressed his appreciation of Jordan’s “advanced” level in the ICT sector, thanks to the Kingdom’s qualified human resources and advanced infrastructure that encouraged Expedia Group to open an office for software development in the Kingdom.

Safadi urges holistic approach to region’s problems

Panellists call for cultivating a culture of hope as they discuss post-Daesh prospects

By - May 20,2017 - Last updated at May 20,2017

Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi speaks during a panel on ‘Rebuilding for Peace, Middle East Stability’ as part of the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa at the Dead Sea on Saturday (Photo courtesy of WEF)

AMMAN — Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi on Saturday urged adopting a holistic approach to resolve the wider problems of the Middle East.

Speaking at a panel on “Rebuilding for Peace, Middle East Stability” as part of the functions of the World Economic Forum (WEF) on the Middle East and North Africa, Safadi said it is “about time that we saw the problems of the region within a broader picture and not just be looking at things from the perspective of silos…to see the interconnectedness of the whole problems”. 

“We need to fight Daesh, obviously; we need to eliminate that threat, it is a threat to all of us, [but] the question is how do we do that?” he asked, stressing that the key to success is to be able to have a holistic approach to the problem, “holistic geographically and holistic in terms of areas that enable Daesh and the likes of which to thrive and prosper”.

“Geographically, if we do not get Daesh in Syria and we do not get them in Iraq, we haven’t done much because they are going to move to Iraq then Libya then to Somalia and others.”

The holistic approach also means that Daesh is fought at the military and security levels, but, more importantly,  “ we counter it [as a] cultural and the ideological threat.

“And that we do by deconstructing the environment of despair, anger, bitterness and ignorance which enabled Daesh to thrive and to recruit,” said Safadi at the panel discussion that brought together Ursula von der Leyen, federal minister of defence of Germany, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway Børge Brende, Federica Mogherini, high representative of the European Union for foreign affairs and security policy, and vice president of the European Commission and Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross. 

Safadi added: “We are hopeful that once again we are seeing everybody, the whole world … focusing on the Middle East, realising that there are serious problems that need to be addressed. We need to look at governance; we need to look at economic opportunity, social horizon...”.

On the stability of the Middle East, the top diplomat said that it would not be achieved “without addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. You cannot speak of a stable Middle East without having inclusive regimes where all peoples of a state feel that the government represents them, and you cannot speak of a stable Middle East where the youth populations do not see a future, do not see an opportunity looking forward”.

He concluded that “the challenge is upon all of us to be able to articulate plans that can deliver and not lose interest the day after. That is where we have gone wrong in the past and I hope we will not go wrong this time again and that we have learned our lessons”. 

The panellists agreed that it is important to create a culture of hope rather than one of despair, and young people are critical to the process, according to a WEF statement.

The German defence minister noted that the US has said it is accelerating the campaign against Daesh. “If we want to be successful, we must defeat Daesh.” However, she said, using military means in Syria and the region will “never be sustainable”. “The path to sustainability lies in reconstruction, reconciliation and good governance,” she agreed. 

Brende pointed out that the Syrian war is a complete humanitarian disaster, urging US President Donald Trump to have “constructive discussions” with Russia and to strengthen the momentum for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The US has trust in Israel and “can build bridges”, he said.

Mogherini said the EU has “opened channels” with the Trump administration and has “built an amazing world order since the Second World War based on win-win”, she said, adding that there are regional issues where the EU and the US can work together — especially on Syria.

There must be a “big plan for the reconstruction of Syria”, economically, socially and physically. The amount of money needed will be huge, the EU official said. But reconstruction must also extend to building trust, respecting diversity and creating the ability to work together.

 

Maurer said “We cannot put small band-aids on big wounds.” To fix the problems of the region, there has to be political engagement by the major powers, he added. “Otherwise we will go into a downward spiral. There has to be willingness across the region to work with others,” he said. The region possesses the “necessary rules and principles, but there needs to be concrete political willingness to stop the bloodshed”. The fear is that “we have waited too long to find political solutions”.

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