Meet stresses role of private sector

 01 Jun 2016 - 0:00

Meet stresses role of private sector
From left: Prof Steven Spiegel, UCLA, Centre for Middle East Development (CMED); Mohamed Boussaid, Minister of Economy and Finance, Morocco; Princess Basmah Al Saud, Inseed Holdings, Saudi Arabia; Amel Azzouz, Former Secretary of State in Charge of International Cooperation, Tunisia; and Dr Hani Findakly, Clinton Group, USA, discussing the ‘Biggest Problems Facing the Arab World Today’ on the first day of the Enriching the Middle East’s Economic Future Conference on Monday at Sheraton Doha Resort. Pic: Kammutty / The Peninsula

 

By Mohammad Shoeb

DOHA: Promoting labour intensive private industries, especially the employment generating small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and ensuring inclusive growth with social justice system, are some of key initiatives that can address some of the pressing issues facing the Arab world.
Most of the panelists at a session discussing the ‘Biggest Problems Facing the Arab World Today’ on the first day of ‘Enriching the Middle East’s Economic Future Conference’, unequivocally emphasised on establishing a robust private sector, which is currently missing in most Arab world economies.
They also agreed that security and political stability can only be achieved by investing heavily in social sectors of the Arab economies, especially those that witnessed Arab Spring. Creating better employment opportunities, imparting quality education and training, better healthcare and social security can address most of the problems.
The first session of the three-day conference, which opened here on Monday evening at Sheraton Doha Resort & Convention Hotel, consisted of eminent panelists which included Mohamed Boussaid, Minister of Economy and Finance, Morocco; Her Royal Highness Princess Basmah Al Saud, Inseed Holdings, Saudi Arabia; Amel Azzouz, Former Secretary of State in Charge of International Cooperation, Tunisia; and Dr Hani Findakly, Clinton Group, USA. The session was moderated by Professor Steven Spiegel, UCLA, Centre for Middle East Development (CMED), which is organizing the event in collaboration with Qatar’s ‘Permanent Committee For Organizing Conferences’.
Dr Hani, during the discussion, pointed out that there is an absence of “vibrant private sector”, therefore, the governments need to focus on promoting private businesses which should be large enough to absorb the unemployed Arab youth.
He also pointed out that the existing land holding system in many Arab countries, which is one of the main reasons for growing income inequality, should be part of the governments’ reform agenda. He noted that exceptional surge in the prices of real estate properties is the main reason for the yawning income inequality.
Azzouz (of Tunisia) noted that the absence of social contact between governments and citizens led to ‘Arab Spring’ and political crises in many Arab countries, which eventually resulted into economic instability.
She said: “Political and economic stability in the region can only be achieved through representative governance, women empowerment and integration, establishing and strengthening democratic institutions, rule of law, improving accountability and social inclusion. Citizens need to feel the consensual inclusive process.”
Princess Basmah also lauded similar views saying that one cannot afford to overlook the reasons behind the Arab Spring. “Over the last seven years, volcanoes in the form of social uprising erupted in different parts of the Arab world, which we need to be decoded,” she added. “We have seen existing economic models are not sustaining even in advanced countries. Many economies in Europe and America are facing serious problems… Different theses and analyses have been suggested to overcome these problems, but they need to be implemented effectively on the ground.”
The Moroccan Minister (Boussaid) said that the most pressing issues, currently facing the Arab world, are security and stability. “Without that we cannot talk about sustainable development. It is the basis to tackling the problems facing the region.”
He also added that the number of unemployed people, especially the youth, is growing in the region, who are waiting for jobs and aspiring for better living conditions.

The Peninsula