Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Corporate Arabia at the crossroads as WTO integration looms | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
Select Page

Beirut, June 17, 2005: Corporate Arabia is set to rewrite the rules of economic growth – if it can balance risk taking against the most favourable investment opportunities anywhere in the world, Mohamed Ali Alabbar told a gathering of the region’s leaders at yesterday’s Arab Economic Forum being held in Beirut.

Issuing a challenge to the region’s businesses to take the next ‘leap forward’ and integrate into the global economy, Mr. Alabbar, Director General of Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED) and Chairman Emaar Properties, said: “There are risks but these are far outweighed by the opportunities.

“Let’s learn to manage risk. That is what good management is all about.

&#34It is high time we rewrote the balance sheet of Corporate Arabia. Risk-taking is our investment and why not charge challenges to expenses. I am convinced the bottom line will be favourable, not the bankruptcy and ruin feared by those who do not believe we can compete.

Mr. Alabbar told delegates at the two-day Forum, currently being held in Beirut, Lebanon, that the entry of foreign companies into local markets as a result of the liberalisation which goes with WTO integration is the biggest opportunity presented to the Arab World in modern times. He said: ”It opens up world markets to regional businesses and a chance we cannot afford to squander to leap onto the international stage.”

“There will be competition but this should not be seen in a negative light. Why should our companies suffer if their operations, services and products are sound? If these are unsound they will suffer anyway, foreign competition or no.

&#34Let’s look at the positive side. Governments in this region have an opportunity to create legal frameworks that make it conducive and obligatory for foreign entrants to transfer their global know-how to local businesses, resulting in a win-win situation for both parties.”

He added: &#34The enormous liquidity in the region must be leveraged in order to encourage Intra-Arab FDI inflows thereby enabling the region to absorb its own risks. We have already noted a positive trend in intra-Arab FDI inflows, which contribute to more than 50 per cent of total inflow to the region.

“This is the ideal time for regional governments to work towards the creation of a Middle East economic bloc by reducing internal competition and developing areas of specialisation. Competitiveness is a key factor in being profitable across borders. By upgrading our competitiveness we can create and strengthen a perception of the Arab world as a single entity capable of competing on par with other global economic blocs.”

He said this was where the balance between risk and opportunity was most crucial and could not be avoided. “We have a challenge to find jobs and opportunities for our growing young population. If we sit back and decide the risk are too great we would be in danger of destroying the future of generations to come.

“Take up the challenge and manage the risk and succeed and we move to the next level where we are not only competitive but join the first rank of those economies that are driving progress.”

Mr. Alabbar was one of the key speakers and participants at this year’s Arab Economic Forum. Formerly known as the Arab Capital Markets conference, the forum brings together some of the most high profile economic personalities and political and business leaders in the region.

Emaar Properties, one of the world’s leading real estate companies and creator of signature development Burj Dubai, also played a key role as one of the sponsors at this weekend’s Arab Economic Forum. This will be the third time in succession it has put its weight behind this significant event.