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Arab World Competitiveness Roundtable

Doha, 9-10 April 2007

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Executive Summary

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Enhancing Competitiveness to Sustain the Growth Momentum
in the Arab World

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REF: 200407

Sherif El Diwany
Director, Head of Middle East
World Economic Forum

In a time when many of the Arab economies are growing at levels not seen since three decades ago, the
Arab World Competitiveness Roundtable, held in Doha the 9-10 April, was a successful platform for a
frank assessment of the strategies ahead to enhance competitiveness in the region and sustain the growth

Vibrant discussion among business leaders, policy-makers and experts provided an opportunity for
advancing the reform agenda, particularly in emerging sectors of the Arab economies such as travel and
tourism, healthcare and insurance services – and to gauge risks and opportunities ahead for Arab

We would like to thank the Co-Chairs of the Arab World Competitiveness Roundtable for their leadership.
They were:

Mazen S. Darwazeh, Chairman, Hikma Pharmaceuticals, Jordan

Zoheir Garranah, Minister of Tourism of Egypt
Tarek Sultan Al-Essa, Chairman and Managing Director, Agility, Kuwait

We trust this brief overview captures the optimism, determination and specific proposals that emerged
from the deliberations held during the Roundtable.

2 | Arab World Competitiveness Roundtable 3 | Arab World Competitiveness Roundtable

Executive Summary

“ As we become more modern, we are

exposed to new lifestyles. Our diseases
are changing. We are seeing chronic
diseases on which there should be more

spending by the government. The private
sector has to put in extra effort and have
a bigger involvement.

Mazen S. Darwazeh, Co-Chair of the Arab World

Competitiveness Roundtable; Chairman, Hikma
Pharmaceuticals, Jordan

The World Economic Forum’s Arab World Regionalization – For the Arab world to enhance its
Competitiveness Roundtable offered more than 150
participants gathered in Doha the opportunity to
assess The Arab World Competitiveness Report 2007
and how Arab countries can boost their global
competitiveness. While the Forum’s annual
competitiveness and sustain long-term growth, it will
have to deepen regional integration to lower business
costs and address problems that require cooperative,
cross-border solutions. The region must become a
“ The government and private sector are like
two parallel lines that never meet –
information must be shared so we understand
“ “ “
The surpluses are being used to create bigger
and bigger government. That is not

competitiveness assessments have spurred rivalries each other’s calculations and priorities.
Tarek Sultan Al-Essa, Co-Chair of the Arab World
among economies, the issue is not so much how Unprecedented growth in the Arab world in recent
Competitiveness Roundtable; Chairman and Managing
Arab countries rank compared to each other. The years, driven by the oil price windfall, has to be Zoheir Garranah, Co-Chair of the Arab World Director, Agility, Kuwait
central value of benchmarking lies in determining the sustained to enhance the long-term competitiveness Competitiveness Roundtable; Minister of Tourism of Egypt
strengths and weaknesses of each economy and of the region. But Arab countries face major
identifying the areas where improvement is needed challenges to sustain the momentum. In particular,
and investments have to be made if a country is to countries must create the jobs needed for a growing
boost its productivity. number of graduates. To do this, they must focus on • In healthcare, the private sector should step up to • It is important for Gulf states to build bridges with
how to enhance their competitiveness. boost investment, particularly in research and Iran. Creating trust will require time and political will.
During the sessions, three key priorities emerged: development. Increased private sector participation Arab countries should first improve their own
The results of The Arab World Competitiveness Report is essential if Arab countries are to meet emerging relationships before seeking to deepen ties with
Reform – It is essential that Arab countries continue 2007 indicate that, while countries in the region have healthcare challenges. Iran. Iran should improve its business environment
to pursue reforms, particularly in education and made great strides, challenges remain. To boost to foster commercial ties with Gulf economies.
governance. In education, economies must aim to competitiveness and increase productivity, economies • Tourism will not take off until countries in the region
develop the human resources that businesses should look to remove obstacles to growth while at deepen their integration. • Political will is also crucial in educational reform,
demand. In the public and private sectors, institutions the same time fostering the development of sectors which is critical if the region is to sustain growth.
must become more transparent. with high potential including insurance, healthcare and • The key to the Arab world’s future competitiveness Education systems must meet the demands of
tourism. The results of the report were the basis for lies in how the dynamic between the public and business to stem the rise of unemployment.
Role of the Private Sector – Many participants further discussions during the meeting. private sectors develops. The role of the state must
argued that the private sector must be allowed to take evolve from dominant actor in the economy to • Deeper regional integration is necessary to cut
the lead in developing new drivers of growth and • In the insurance sector, policy reforms are needed regulator-facilitator. Government control of the business costs and improve the global
productivity. State control often stifles private sector to create the right regulatory framework to promote marketplace should be limited or diminished to competitiveness of Arab countries. The region can
growth, while uneven playing fields typically benefit further growth in the industry. The market is opening ensure even playing fields. There must be closer address regional and global challenges and risks
government-linked firms over private enterprise. The up and competition is increasing. The key to communication between the private and public only through cooperative solutions. Furthermore, a
state’s participation in the economy should be limited success is improving service quality and developing sectors and greater transparency, particularly in more integrated Arab market would foster the
or even reduced. Government should focus on common standards across the region. A level government procurement and budgeting. Policy- development of global industry leaders from the
creating the right environment to allow the private playing field is also necessary to allow private making and legislation should be predictable, not region.
sector to grow. companies to compete. arbitrary.

4 | Arab World Competitiveness Roundtable 5 | Arab World Competitiveness Roundtable

Enhancing Competitiveness to Sustain the
Growth Momentum in the Arab World The Arab World
Competitiveness Report 2007
Sustaining the Growth Momentum

“ Although most countries have achieved

“ “
significant progress, many challenges remain

The whole region is a construction site
whether it is buildings, schools or
to be addressed, the most important one
being an overhaul of educational systems.
Margareta Drzeniek Hanouz, Senior Specialist and Senior
Economist at the World Economic Forum’s Global
Issa Abdul Salam Abu Issa, Chairman and Chief
Competitiveness Network; Co-Editor of The Arab World
Executive Officer of Salam International Investment,
Competitiveness Report 2007


World Economic Forum

World Economic Forum

Dubai School of Government

Fuelled in part by the oil price windfall, many of the Table 1a: Arab world GCI 2007 rankings in international Table 1b: Arab world GCI 2007 rankings in international Table 1c: Arab world GCI 2007 rankings in international
Arab economies have been growing at levels not comparison: Country group 3* comparison: Country group 1*
comparison: Country group 2*
reached since the 1970s. According to the World GCR 2007
GCR 2007 GCR 2007
Bank, in 2006 the region grew by an average of 6% Country/Economy Rank Score
Country/Economy Rank Score Country/Economy Rank Score
over the year before. At the World Economic Forum’s India 1 4.47
Arab World Competitiveness Roundtable in Doha, Switzerland 1 5.81 Malaysia 1 5.13 Indonesia 2 4.28
Finland 2 5.74 Chile 2 4.85 China 3 4.25
participants focused on how Arab countries can Egypt 4 4.09
Sweden 3 5.73 Tunisia 3 4.72
sustain this momentum. Success has raised fresh Denmark 4 5.70 Latvia 4 4.60
Azerbaijan 5 4.09
challenges – not least how to meet heightened Philippines 6 4.02
Singapore 5 5.62 Thailand 5 4.58 Morocco 7 4.02
expectations and deal with new pressures, chief United States 6 5.62 Lithuania 6 4.57 Guatemala 8 3.94
among them the urgent need to create jobs for the Japan 7 5.62 Slovak Republic 7 4.57 Vietnam 9 3.93
Germany 8 5.60 Oman 8 4.53
large number of young people who will enter the Ukraine 10 3.91
Netherlands 9 5.57 South Africa 9 4.42 Sri Lanka 11 3.90
workforce in the coming years. The World Bank United Kingdom 10 5.53 Syria 12 3.81
Poland 10 4.33
estimates that about 36% of the MENA region’s total Norway 11 5.46 Costa Rica 11 4.27 Armenia 13 3.78
population is less than 15 years old, compared to Hong Kong SAR 12 5.45 Croatia 12 4.27
Georgia 14 3.75
Moldova 15 3.73
21% for the US and 16% for the EU (see Box 1). Taiwan, China 13 5.40 Jordan 13 4.25 Pakistan 16 3.69
These demographics could represent a great Iceland 14 5.40 Mexico 14 4.23 Honduras 17 3.62
Israel 15 5.38 Kazakhstan 15 4.22
competitive advantage but could also prove a huge Mongolia 18 3.61
Canada 16 5.36 Mauritius 16 4.22 Kenya 19 3.61
burden and source of instability if countries are unable France 17 5.34 Panama 17 4.21 Nicaragua 20 3.55
to find employment for their youth. Austria 18 5.32 Turkey 18 4.18 Tajikistan 21 3.50
Australia 19 5.30 Bolivia 22 3.49
Russian Federation 19 4.13
Nigeria 23 3.49
Box 1: Youth and Opportunity Belgium 20 5.28 Jamaica 20 4.13
Bangladesh 24 3.48
Ireland 21 5.22 El Salvador 21 4.12
(% of population under 15) Gambia 25 3.45
New Zealand 22 5.17 Colombia 22 4.09 Cambodia 26 3.42
Luxembourg 23 5.15 Brazil 23 4.08 Benin 27 3.41
Yemen 48.7 Korea, Rep. 24 5.12 Argentina 24 4.05 Tanzania 28 3.40
West Bank/Gaza 46.1 Estonia 25 5.12 Romania 25 4.04 Paraguay 29 3.35
Iraq 41.4 Spain 26 4.79 Libya 26 4.00 Kyrgyz Republic 30 3.33
Saudi Arabia 39.1 Czech Republic 27 4.72 Bulgaria 27 4.00
Cameroon 31 3.32
Syria 38.3 Barbados 28 4.71 Peru 28 3.99
Guyana 32 3.29
Jordan 38.0 Madagascar 33 3.29
United Arab Emirates 29 4.67 Algeria 29 3.98
Oman 37.2 Nepal 34 3.27
Slovenia 30 4.64 Uruguay 30 3.97 Lesotho 35 3.24
Egypt 35.2 Portugal 31 4.60 Macedonia, FYR 31 3.92 Uganda 36 3.21
Iran 32.6 Qatar 32 4.56 Botswana 32 3.83 Zambia 37 3.21
Libya 31.3 Hungary 33 4.53 Mauritania 38 3.18
Venezuela 33 3.80
Lebanon 29.6 Italy 34 4.47 Burkina Faso 39 3.10
Dominican Republic 34 3.78
Bahrain 29.2 Malta 35 4.44 Malawi 40 3.09
Namibia 35 3.76
Israel 27.9 Kuwait 36 4.42
Zimbabwe 41 3.07
Ecuador 36 3.72
Qatar 26.6 Mali 42 3.04
Cyprus 37 4.35 Bosnia and Herzegovina 37 3.72
Kuwait 26.1 Ethiopia 43 3.00
Greece 38 4.33 Serbia and Montenegro 38 3.71 Mozambique 44 2.97
UAE 25.8
Bahrain 39 4.30 Albania 39 3.49 Timor-Leste 45 2.91
Trinidad and Tobago 40 4.06 Suriname 40 3.45 Chad 46 2.64
Source: The World Bank
Burundi 47 2.62
* Group 3 comprises innovation-driven economies (countries in the 3rd stage * Group 2 comprises efficiency-driven economies (countries in the 2nd stage Angola 48 2.50
of development and those transitioning toward it). of development and those transitioning toward it).
* Group 1 comprises factor-driven economies (countries in the 1st stage of
6 | Arab World Competitiveness Roundtable development).
“ Invest in education for the Arab world as a

whole rather than for Qatar alone, with the
aim of trying to bring about a different
“ “
We need to completely transform our
educational systems to match the demands
of the business community.

mindset in the region.

M. Shafik Gabr, Chairman and Managing Director, Artoc
Group for Investment & Development, Egypt; Chairman of
Sheikh Hamad Bin Jabor Bin Jassim Al-Thani, Secretary the Arab Business Council
General of Qatar's Planning Council

There are other challenges confronting the Arab world “Although most countries have achieved significant While banking and financial services in Arab countries able to live a better life,” said Darwazeh. “The private
and threatening its competitiveness, including how to progress, many challenges remain to be addressed,” have grown significantly in recent years, the insurance sector has to put in the extra effort and have a bigger
prepare for potential health crises, how to enhance said Margareta Drzeniek Hanouz, Senior Specialist sector lagged but is now catching up. According to involvement.” One area where private enterprise could
the role of the private sector while reining in state and Senior Economist at the World Economic Forum’s Standard & Poor’s, the average value of Islamic have an impact is in research and development.
control, and how to deepen regional integration. And, Global Competitiveness Network and Co-Editor of the insurance premiums written in the Gulf states is “Medical research is a key area we want to focus on,
of course, countries in the region together with the Report. “The most important weaknesses are to be growing about 16 times faster than the average especially disease patterns and what the people’s
international community must address the turmoil in found in the areas of education, low efficiency of premiums in the global conventional insurance market. needs are,” said Sheikha Ghalia M. bin Hamad Al
parts of the Middle East, particularly the Israeli- goods markets as well as labour markets and, for the But it will require policy reforms to create the right Thani, Chairperson of Qatar’s National Health
Palestinian conflict and the civil war in Iraq. more advanced economies the very weak innovative regulatory framework, said Sheikh Khaled Bin Zayed Authority. “We need serious investment in medical
capacity.” Al Nehayan, Chairman of the Bin Zayed Group of the research.” There has to be more cooperation between
To meet these challenges particularly the job creation United Arab Emirates. “Improving the quality of service academia and private industry in R&D, Darwazeh
imperative, the region must first assess its For the region to achieve its full competitive potential, is key,” he said. “This market is going to open up. It concluded.
competitiveness – the productivity of its economies it will need to address these shortcomings. This will will have much fiercer competition and we have to be
benchmarked against the rest of the world – to require “a profound change in mindset,” said Sherif El ready for it.” A particular challenge is for countries to As Arab economies move up the value scale from
determine how well prepared each is to sustain recent Diwany, Director, Middle East, World Economic Forum. cooperate to set standards across jurisdictions, which being manufacturing-based to focusing more on
growth momentum. In Doha, the World Economic Roundtable participants focused on three priorities – would enhance the growth of the regional market. services, tourism is a natural industry to promote. The
Forum released The Arab World Competitiveness pursuing necessary reforms however painful, boosting Creating a level playing field is critical. The dominant job creation potential is significant. But the region
Report 2007. The results identified the most the role of the private sector and deepening regional position of state-linked companies impedes growth, must surmount a number of challenges including the
competitive economies in the region in three groups integration. The overarching goal: to enhance the argued Sheik Nawaf Bin Nasser Bin Khalid Al Thani, negative perceptions that many outsiders have of the
as they performed against international peers. Ranking region’s competitiveness. This means finding and Chairman of Doha Insurance in Qatar. In addition, Middle East, due in part to one-sided media coverage.
among those at the most advanced stage of promoting new drivers of growth and productivity. At huge oil surpluses have diminished the zeal for The key is to take a regional approach, something that
development are the United Arab Emirates (#29), Doha, participants identified three such emerging privatization. has been difficult to do because of political
Qatar (32), Kuwait (36) and Bahrain (39), while among industries: insurance, tourism and healthcare. differences, the lack of infrastructure and regulatory
those in the middle group are Tunisia (3), Oman (8), In healthcare, while the pursuit of reforms is important, factors. Travel across the region for Arab citizens is
Jordan (13), Libya (26) and Algeria (29). The most “policy-makers are looking to the private sector for not easy due to visa restrictions and infrastructure
competitive Arab economies among the countries in support,” said Mona Mourshed, Principal, McKinsey & deficiencies. That is changing. The globalization of a
the world at the lowest stage of development include
Egypt (4), Morocco (7), Syria (12) and Mauritania (38).
“ Medical research is a key area we want to
focus on, especially disease patterns and
what the people’s needs are. We need
“ Company, United Arab Emirates. According to Mazen
S. Darwazeh, Co-Chair of the Arab World
Competitiveness Roundtable and Chairman of Hikma
Pharmaceuticals in Jordan, healthcare spending per
capita in Arab countries is among the lowest in the
handful of Gulf air carriers such as Qatar Airways and
Emirates and the building of new ports and airports
have improved transport links between the MENA
region and the rest of the world. “Governments in this
region have to put tourism as a high priority,” said
serious investment in medical research. world – on average only about 4.5% of GDP, Geoffrey Lipmann, Assistant Secretary-General of the
excluding Turkey and Israel, compared with 13% in World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in Madrid.
Sheikha Ghalia M. bin Hamad Al Thani, Chairperson of the US and 8% in Japan. “As we progress, we will be
the National Health Authority, Qatar

8 | Arab World Competitiveness Roundtable 9 | Arab World Competitiveness Roundtable

“ We need to ensure that the current oil boom and
the prosperity in the region do not become “

another era of boom and bust but an era that will
allow the Arab world to compete with the rest of
the world.
“ Governments in this region have to put
tourism as a high priority.

Geoffrey Lipmann, Assistant Secretary-General of the

Tarik M. Yousef, Dean of the Dubai School of Government World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Madrid

For Arab countries to reap the competitive advantages Mathematics, Islamic Republic of Iran. Akbar Al Baker, This difference of opinion over the role of the public A major problem is that government-linked companies
offered by each of these emerging sectors, they must Chief Executive Officer of Qatar Airways, argued that sector underscored another risk factor highlighted by or state entities often compete with the private sector.
pursue reforms, expand the space for the private ultimately experience, not simply schooling and Roundtable participants: the lack of dialogue and The playing field is typically uneven. Corporate
sector through the creation of level playing fields, and training, is the key to economic growth. “No matter transparency between governments and the private governance standards in state enterprises, which
enhance regional integration. Many participants how educated you are, it is experience that is the key sector. This leads to unpredictability that is the bane of include the majority of the large companies in the
stressed that political will is needed for the region to to efficiency,” he said. Tarek Sultan Al-Essa, Co-Chair business. “Legislation by surprise is the biggest risk region, are low, according to Abdulaziz O. Sager,
move forward. Take education. Across the region, of the Arab World Competitiveness Roundtable and for the Middle East,” Al Nehayan declared. “It happens Chairman of the Gulf Research Center in the UAE. As
school systems simply do not produce enough skilled Chairman and Managing Director, Agility, Kuwait, too often.” Co-Chair Darwazeh added that legislative a consequence, the private sector has little incentive
graduates to meet the needs of businesses, forcing reckoned that the education system would be inconsistency and unpredictability were forcing Arab to improve its own governance practices.
many companies to bring in foreign workers even in fundamentally undermined if hiring practices were not companies wanting to raise capital to go outside the
the face of rising unemployment. “We need to based on merit. In addition, formal education must be region to list their companies. According to Charles According to Sager, three vital factors make it difficult
completely transform our educational systems to bolstered by the right R&D policies necessary to Hollis, Managing Director, Consulting Services Group, for the private sector to compete with the state. First,
match the demands of the business community,” said promote innovation and diversification of economies. Kroll Associates (MMC), United Kingdom, the lack of the government owns the land and controls land use.
M. Shafik Gabr, Chairman and Managing Director, transparency and availability of accounts, even in Second, the government is the biggest employer and
Artoc Group for Investment & Development, Egypt, Indeed, Sultan Al-Essa and others stressed that the publicly traded companies is hindering the capacity of sets wage levels. And third, nobody questions the lack
who is also the Chairman of the Arab Business competitiveness of Arab countries and their capacity the market to efficiently allocate resources and, hence, of transparency of state-owned companies. Arab
Council. to mitigate the many risks they face depend to a large damaging value. multinational firms, said Hanadi N. Al Thani, Vice-
extent on how the role of government and the public Chairperson and Managing Director of Amwal, are
If there is political will, there will be a way. Many sector evolves. The surpluses of recent years, Sultan The dynamic between the private and public sectors generally government-owned companies that face little
countries are now implementing innovative initiatives Al-Essa said, “are being used to create bigger and will be an important factor in shaping Arab countries or no risk at home, allowing them more scope when
to raise the quality of education and broaden bigger government. That is not sustainable.” competitiveness landscape. “People must understand making investments overseas. Private Arab companies
participation. Qatar, for example, has imported Government, he added, must focus on creating the the visions and strategies of governments,” advised do not enjoy such advantages.
specialized higher education programmes. The motive right environment for the private sector to take the Roundtable Co-Chair Zoheir Garranah, a former
behind the strategy, explained Sheikh Hamad Bin lead and for companies and businesses to become businessman who is now Egypt’s Minister of Tourism. To spur a private sector surge, the role of government
Jabor Bin Jassim Al-Thani, Secretary General of more productive. “The government and private sector are like two should be limited, said Kuwait’s Sultan Al-Essa. “We
Qatar’s Planning Council, is to invest in education for parallel lines that never meet – information must be need to set targets for downsizing the government
the Arab world as a whole rather than for Qatar alone, Qatar’s Al Baker noted that many Arab governments shared so we understand each other’s calculations impact on the business sector.” He observed: “The
with the aim of “trying to bring about a different diminish their economy’s competitiveness through and priorities.” Darwazeh noted that governments do role of government and public sectors seems to be
mindset in the region.” Students from many different policies and practices, including through the not publish their fiscal policies and budgets. At lunch shifting from provider/investor to regulator/facilitator.
countries are beginning to attend the programmes, he imposition of quotas such as labour controls. Gabr during the Roundtable, participants considered three This is key across all sectors and will unleash growth
noted. supported this claim, calling for the creation of “a possible scenarios for the region, looking ahead to across the region.” According to Hollis “better
culture of competitiveness” and the elimination of 2025. Where Arab economies actually end up, said governance is not an aim in itself, it can also aid better
In practically every session, participants echoed protectionist thinking inherent in both the public and Hollis, depends to a large extent on “how much the decisions in making investments and reduce
Gabr’s call to make education an overarching priority. private sectors. Yet some participants denied that private sector can engage government and how much vulnerability to fraud.”
“Education is the cornerstone for development of the government should shoulder most of the blame. Said government can engage the private sector.”
region, but we must have a more sophisticated notion Sheikh Khaled Bin Zayed Al Nehayan: “When it comes
of that,” warned Mohamed J. A. Larijani, Director, to their self-interest, they [the private sector] are the
Institute for Studies in Theoretical Physics and worst enemy to competitiveness.”

10 | Arab World Competitiveness Roundtable 11 | Arab World Competitiveness Roundtable

“ What is important is that tourism should be
sustainable. We should not just be building

hotels, advertising the beaches and the sea.
What is important is to attract people interested
in history and culture.

Akbar Al Baker, Chief Executive Officer of Qatar Airways, Qatar

But oil boom surpluses may be spiking the zeal for In the discussion of Arab regionalization, the issue of
reform and inspiring bloated government. “How would relations with Iran and the risks inherent to the current
we compete if we didn’t have the surpluses that we geopolitical situation obviously loomed large.
have now?” Sultan Al-Essa pointedly asked. Participants from both sides of the Persian Gulf
Cautioned Tarik M. Yousef, Dean of the Dubai School agreed that they had to strengthen mutual trust.
of Government: “We need to ensure that the current Jordan’s Darwazeh said that Iran is not a threat but an
oil boom and the prosperity in the region do not opportunity. He suggested, however, that Arabs had
become another era of boom and bust but an era that to concentrate on enhancing the relationships among
will allow the Arab world to compete with the rest of themselves first before turning their attention to forging
the world.” Still, said Qatar Planning Council Chief stronger ties with Iran.
Sheikh Hamad, the role of oil in Arab countries cannot
be underestimated. “The hydrocarbon business is the The private sector is moving ahead of the politicians in
catalyst for future sustainability.” developing links across the Gulf, but the difficult
business environment in Iran is a major obstacle, said
Yet, even if the region effectively pursues reforms and Khalid Abdulla-Janahi, Chairman of the Executive
the private sector steps up while the public sector Committee of the Shamil Bank of Bahrain in
recedes, the Arab region will falter if countries do not Switzerland and Vice-Chairman of the Arab Business
make a sincere effort to deepen integration. While Council. Iran poses no threat to its neighbours and is
there may be serious differences between states, open to greater cooperation, said Larijani. The Iranians
economic cooperation could mitigate such clashes would even be willing to share their controversial
and even improve understanding as it has done in the nuclear technology, he added. But, he concluded,
European Union, former British foreign secretary Lord “confidence is acquired; you cannot buy it.”
Owen, Chancellor of the University of Liverpool, told
participants. In addition, the removal of barriers to The forward position of business that Abdulla-Janahi
transport, trade and investment would lower business highlighted underscored how in the MENA region,
costs in the region and foster the development of business is showing how politics and ancient enmities
global industry leaders from the region. should not be used as obstacles to the region’s
economic and social progress. In one session, Issa
The Arab world is like the EU 30 years ago, added Abdul Salam Abu Issa, Chairman and Chief Executive
Niki Tzavella, Vice-President of the Kokkalis Officer of Salam International Investment in Qatar,
Foundation in Greece. Greater cooperation has spoke of the challenges facing high-growth
become essential. “Arab countries stick to their companies such as his as they aim to have a regional
loneliness,” she asserted. “The sooner you open up and global impact. “As a company grows, it may
the market, you become global yourself. But there is encounter several problems,” he said. “Unless a
no solidarity. You must lean on each other. Open up company has a well-defined vision, strategy and
the borders.” She suggested that the richer Arab structure, it cannot succeed. The lack of talented
countries should help to upgrade their poorer brethren people makes matters worse.” The same can certainly
within the region, as was the practice in the EU. be said of the Arab countries. Without a well-defined
regional vision, a strategy for competitiveness and
effective institutions, the Arab world will simply not
12 | Arab World Competitiveness Roundtable 13 | Arab World Competitiveness Roundtable
Acknowledgements Contributors

The World Economic Forum wishes to recognize the support of the following companies as Partners of Peter Torreele is Managing Director of the World Economic Forum. Sherif El Diwany is Director, Head of
the Arab World Competitiveness Roundtable: Middle East, at the Forum. The Arab World Competitiveness Roundtable was under his direct
responsibility, with Sofiane Khatib, Global Leadership Fellow, Middle East; Denise Burnet, Principal, Head
of Events; Rosanna Mastrogiacomo, Senior Event Manager; and Amal Mbarki, Community Relations
Manager, Middle East.

Official Host and Strategic Partner Roundtable Partners

Qatar Airways Doha Insurance Report Writers: Alejandro Reyes and Saamir Elshihabi
Qatar Financial Centre Authority
Qatar Telecom (Q-TEL) QSC Associate Principal, Editing: Nancy Tranchet
Salam International
Design and Layout: Kamal Kimaoui, Associate Principal, Production and Design

Photographs: Khaled Ismail and Tamam Ahmed Al Agha

14 | Arab World Competitiveness Roundtable 15 | Arab World Competitiveness Roundtable

16 | Arab World Competitiveness Roundtable
Arab World Competitiveness Roundtable
Doha, 9-10 April 2007

The World Economic Forum is an independent

international organization committed to improving
the state of the world by engaging leaders in
partnerships to shape global, regional and
industry agendas.

Incorporated as a foundation in 1971, and based

in Geneva, Switzerland, the World Economic
Forum is impartial and not-for-profit; it is tied to
no political, partisan or national interests.