Sheikh Mohammed calls for unity ahead of WEF summit

The world faces new challenges today in the form of renewed political volatility, new forms of extremism and the refugee crisis, as well as health concerns, says the UAE Minister of Economy.
Sultan Al Mansouri, right, the UAE Minister of Economy, and Espen Barth Eide, the managing director of the World Economic Forum, at a press conference during the WEF event. Pawan Singh / The National
Sultan Al Mansouri, right, the UAE Minister of Economy, and Espen Barth Eide, the managing director of the World Economic Forum, at a press conference during the WEF event. Pawan Singh / The National

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid said that the world needed more than ever to coordinate efforts, unify visions and shape common solutions to challenges as he welcomed attendees to the Gobal Agenda of the World Economic Forum yesterday in Dubai.

The UAE Vice President and Ruler of Dubai spoke ahead of the summit’s opening today.

“The world is more globalised and challenges which have become trans-border can only be countered through joint action, clear thoughts and a serious combination of international capabilities,” he said.

Instability in parts of the Middle East and elsewhere is the most important issue facing the world, said Sultan Al Mansouri, the UAE Minister of Economy.

“The world faces new challenges today in the form of renewed political volatility, new forms of extremism and the refugee crisis, as well as health concerns. But the most important issue is instability, and we shall be seeking advice and solutions at this summit,” he said.

The event is held in partnership with the UAE Government and Mr Al Mansouri is the co-chair with Sami Al Qamzi, the director-general of the Department of Economic Development for Dubai Government.

The first session of the WEF summit today will see 1,000 experts gathering under the theme “shaping the transformations of the world”, said Mr Al Mansouri.

It is the seventh time the summit has been held in the UAE. Attendees Al Gore, the former American vice-president, Gordon Brown, the former British prime minister and Jose Manuel Barroso, the ex-president of the European Commission.

“There are yet other persisting challenges such as unemployment and food security, as well as concerns about climate change and its impact. While some of these may seem to be issues of concern confined to certain regions and countries, the fact is that in an interconnected world we are all affected by them in some way or other,” Mr Al Mansoori said.

The summit, which aims to set the agenda for the annual WEF meeting in Davos, Switzerland, in January, comes against a backdrop of growing tension.

“This year, the global agenda is shaped by a much more strained geopolitical situation, which is characterised by a new level of volatility and complexity as events in east Asia, Ukraine and the Middle East have shown,” said Martina Larkin, the director of the WEF’s global knowledge networks.

However, in its annual “Outlook on the Global Agenda”, the WEF’s regular rating of world affairs, economic issues dominate the list of concerns, especially the rise of income inequality, which is the most important trend identified by the WEF’s experts, and the rise of unemployment or “the risk of persistent jobless growth”.

“These two socio-economic trends are creating a dangerous cycle: stagnant wages and the lack of employment are contributing to rising inequality, as well as holding back consumer spending and therefore growth,” Ms Larkin said.

“The global political system is fragmented and becoming increasingly more so. There is an increased backlash against globalisation and a retreat to nationalism and regionalism.”

In the region, the WEF outlook says youth unemployment, averaging 25 per cent, is the top challenge, “alongside the management of political transitions and societal tensions”.

Sami Al Qamzi, the director general of the Dubai Department of Economic Development said the convening of the summit in Dubai reflected the emirate’s image as a city “open to the world”.

fkane@thenational.ae

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Published: November 8, 2014 04:00 AM

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