Arab world major contributor to growth of global economy - GulfToday

Arab world major contributor to growth of global economy


Mohammad Al Gergawi speaks at the Arab Strategy Forum in Dubai on Monday.

Business Bureau, Gulf Today

The 12th Arab Strategy Forum kicked off in Dubai on Monday, under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

The event has convened leading decision-makers as well as economic and political experts to discuss the developments of the next 10 years until 2030.  In his opening address at the event, Mohammad Abdullah Al Gergawi, President of the Arab Strategy Forum, said that there is a real and renewed hope that the Arab region will become a major contributor to the growth of the world economy in the coming decade.

 “With everything that is happening around us and with the acceleration of changes, we must ask ourselves: In which direction are our countries heading? And are we progressing or lagging behind?” Gergawi said in his speech titled ‘The Decade of Major Transformations’.

 “We are on the verge of a new global economic reality. How can we be a part of this new economic reality? How can the Arab world be part of this new economic reality? We must find answers to these vital questions,” he said.

 Despite some of the circumstances surrounding the Arab world today, we are never pessimistic, Al Gergawi added. “The Arab world is capable of building a bright future, especially since our region now has an increasing strategic importance and possesses huge human potential. It has a great future, provided that we take advantage of the upcoming opportunities,” he said.  He pointed out that this year’s edition of ASF, running under the theme ‘Forecasting the Next Decade 2020 - 2030’ will address the transformations and social movements expected over the next decade.

 “We live today in a world of rapid developments, a world of permanent revolution in the production of information and chaos in the decision-making process, which has led to a rapid decline in our socio-political ecosystems as new economic alliances form and trade conflicts seem endless. It’s a world of many paradoxes,” Al Gergawi said.

 Social media is a phenomenon that has changed the world, he added. “The power of communication via the internet has enabled man to reach a new future already, lift himself out of his poverty, strengthen knowledge, increase opportunities, and renew his energies. At the same time, however, the power of communication has also increased chaos, frequent unrest, the spread of protests, and disrupted the wheel of life in many societies. Yes, we live in a world of contradictions.”

 He further noted, “The information flow, data and knowledge produced by man has dramatically increased. In one second, the equivalent of a library of 16 million books is produced. What humanity produced in the last two years is equal to nine times the human knowledge that was generated since the dawn of human history.

 “This information revolution has led to one billion people being lifted out of poverty. Yet, the gap between who owns and who does not own, and who knows and who does not know has increased. Today, one per cent of people own more than 50 per cent of the world’s wealth. And yet, up to three billion people remain outside the internet era. It is as though they live on another planet.”

 Al Gergawi identified three major political and economic shifts in the coming decade. The first, he said, was a new global economic centre of power. “We are on the verge of a new global economic map, new ways of trade, huge trade blocs and trade wars of a new kind,” he said, noting that China’s Belt and Road initiative, which is being implemented at a cost of approximately US$1 trillion, involves more than 130 countries around the world and is poised to change trade routes. “It will generate additional growth in the volume of global trade estimated at six per cent and add more than $100 billion to China’s annual trade value,” he said.

 On the back of this anticipated new economic era, Al Gergawi directed a group of questions to the Arab region, saying: “We must ask ourselves, where are we in all of this? What is the reality of intra-Arab trade? How can we be part of the new world? How can we affect the formation of the next economic map of the world?”

 The second shift, he noted, will be in the battle for technology. “What will lead the future is technology, and whoever controls information flow and production in the future will control the economic, social and political power in the world for decades to come.”

 Al Gergawi added, “Global conflicts and competition related to the possession and production of information have already begun. In the last decade, the number of technology patents in the US has grown by 41 per cent. However, in comparison, the number of Chinese technology patents has increased by 13,250 per cent.

 “China today produces 10 times the data generated by the United States annually. And in 2019, the Ministry of Education of China announced the introduction of 400 new majors for undergraduate students in the areas of artificial intelligence, big data and robotics.”

 Furthermore, Al Gergawi sounded a clarion call to the Arab world in light of this new economic reality. “Where are we in all of this?” he asked. “Have Arab nations and countries prepared for the new reality? Do countries know that their sovereignty, their future and their information will be mortgaged to technologically superior nations if they do not take the initiative and move quickly towards the future?”

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