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DAVOS: The World Economic Forum (WEF) is reconvening in the snowy mountains of Davos, and many observers are wondering what delegations from Arab countries can add to the event.

“Simply put, I think it’s time for these countries to shine,” he says Arabic News Maroun Kairouz, head of the Middle East and North Africa region at the World Economic Forum.

“The forum comes as the culmination of years of effort and commitment to the reforms we have implemented in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Oman.”

According to Maroun Kairouz, WEF’s regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, the Gulf occupies a privileged position: it is at the “heart” of geopolitical efforts around the world. (Photo submitted)

“The seeds they sowed five or six years ago, even twenty years ago for some countries, are bearing fruit today, which puts them in this privileged position.”

The theme of this year’s summit is “Collaboration in a Fractured World,” a fitting theme given the crises currently threatening our planet.

The war between Russia and Ukraine will soon enter its second year. This reality is fueling inflation, which affects families around the world.

Various delegations on the first day of the World Economic Forum held in Davos. (Photo by Tarak Ali Ahmed)

In this context, uncertainty is increasing and the global balance of power is becoming more intense as a result of increasingly intense geopolitical and geoeconomic competition between world powers, especially China and the United States.

This year’s summit brings together a record number of Arab heads of state in Davos. Undoubtedly, due to its geopolitical and economic position, the region can act as a mediator in the above-mentioned crises.

The Gulf occupies a position of choice: it is at the “center” of the world’s efforts at the geopolitical level, Mr. Kairouz is convinced. Arabic News.

There are many examples of this: US President Joe Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s participation in the Sino-Arab Summit held in Saudi Arabia last December and his role. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is mediating a prisoner exchange between Russia and Ukraine.

“In order to assess the situation with some realism, it is necessary to emphasize that this region is important for the protection of global stability, stability of the energy sector and economic stability in the world, even if some parts of the world pursue their interests in other parts of the world. the world,” explains Mr. Kairouz.

“I think that many countries have become aware of this reality against the backdrop of the events of the past year.”

Middle Eastern countries are exerting themselves in the field of investments; According to WEF President Borge Brenden, their sovereign wealth funds invest all over the world.

WEF President Borge Brende also emphasized the importance of the Arab world at the opening of this year’s meeting. “This year, the forum represents six countries with heads of state, prime ministers and leading delegations,” he said at the press conference.

“The countries of the Middle East are exerting their power in the field of investments; their sovereign funds invest all over the world,” emphasizes Borge Brende.

Indeed, Mr Kairouz congratulates Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar on the progress they have made at the economic and diplomatic level. However, he urges them to pursue their reforms relentlessly.

Police officers stand guard at the entrance to the congress center in the alpine resort of Davos on the opening day of the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) on January 16, 2023. (AFP)

In this perspective, Mr. Kairouz believes that the Gulf countries “will again play a leading role in fighting the global recession that is on the horizon.”

Indeed, two-thirds of senior economists predict a global recession this year, according to a WEF survey. This trend is explained by continued geopolitical tensions and additional monetary restrictions imposed by both the United States and Europe.

“The global recession predicted for 2023 by two-thirds of senior economists points to a dangerous situation for the global economy,” WEF chief executive Saadia Zahidi said at a press conference ahead of the meeting.

“The current environment is characterized by high inflation, insufficient growth, high debt and intense fragmentation. These factors hold back the investments needed to revive development and improve the living standards of the world’s most vulnerable people.”

This year’s WEF meeting will bring together more than two thousand seven hundred leaders and diplomats from around the world; major countries will be represented there.

Among the Arab states that will not participate in this year’s summit are the crisis-ridden Lebanon and Yemen. According to Mr. Kairouz, the organizers invited the governments of these two countries to participate in the summit, but these calls were not successful.

Davos, January 16, 2023. (AFP)

“We have sent invitations to these governments that have shown some interest at some point.

“Unfortunately, the dynamics behind these countries prevented their participation. As you know, for example, Lebanon is currently suffering from a presidential vacancy, which prevents ministers or the prime minister from traveling under such circumstances.”

Lebanon has been suffering from the most serious financial crisis in its history since the end of 2019. If this unprecedented situation is driving millions of people into poverty, that doesn’t stop its politicians from squabbling; thus, the appointment of the new president has been deadlocked since last October.

Arab countries must participate in the World Economic Forum and other similar summits. Indeed, the threat of man-made climate change manifests itself in the rise of extreme weather events and environmental damage in the Middle East.

“By 2050, the region risks losing 14% of its GDP due to water problems,” warns Mr. Kairouz. “We must act without delay. Otherwise, this region will pay the heaviest price of climate change.”

Mr Kairouz said he saw COP27 in Egypt last November and COP28 in the UAE later this year as “a great opportunity for the region to play a leading role in 2035”.

It says that “the region has the necessary tools – the financial instruments and the expertise to manage major projects – to emerge as a world leader in the fight against climate change”.

The Davos meeting will also have the highest participation of businessmen. More than 1500 individual entrepreneurs are registered in 700 organizations. Of these, more than six hundred are leading business leaders and WEF partners.

In addition, more than one hundred and twenty-five experts and officials from leading universities, research institutes and think tanks from different countries of the world will participate in the meeting.

Organizers say that the principle of carbon neutrality will be adopted at the WEF meeting for the sixth year in a row.

This text is a translation of an article published on Arabnews.com

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