The World Economic Forum in Davos dedicated a special session to discuss the future of Arab economies amid challenges led by the so-called ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution”, era of technology and automation, which has imposed a new reality in the region and the whole world.
This session organized in cooperation with Al Arabiya saw the participation of the Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, Egyptian Industry and Trade Minister, Tarek Kabil, Group CEO at Saudi Telecom Company Khaled Biyari, and Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Blockchain Peter Smith.
During a one-hour discussion, all attendees have agreed on the importance of preparing the Arab economies to absorb the current technological surplus, which threats thousands and even millions of employments. They also considered that developing and reforming three main aspects: infrastructure, education and skills, and regulative laws is the best measure to benefit from this surplus in developing national economies, without marginalizing traditional jobs and discharging employees.
Commenting on these three aspects, Chahed said that his country is still suffering from the consequences of 2011’s revolution,but has been ready to cope with the technological surplus and has worked on developing its infrastructure by being completely linked to the internet, yet, it still needs to develop and enhance a suitable environment concerning its regulative laws, he added.
Smith said that the Tunisian Government, like many other countries, faces a major difficult challenge in achieving the balance between the adoption of flexible laws that contain swift technological changes and maintaining security and stability by preventing terrorists from using this technological development.
From his part, Biyari stressed the importance of reforming education sectors in the Arab world to develop skills that can cope with future jobs – he also stressed on the importance of adoption of companies for new technologies by providing training programs for their employees to enhance their skills.
As per Kabil, he said that tourism in Egypt has severely suffered from repercussion of terrorist attacks in the region, and noted that the government works on developing non-traditional technology products to support tourism.
Concerning the regular economic reform the Tunisian Prime Minister told Asharq Al-Awsat that his country has maintained its position as an international hub for investments with more than 3000 foreign companies, despite the challenges it has faced. However, he said that more efforts are needed in this field, and that the Tunisia 2020 Conference worked on fulfilling this goal.
Majid Jafar, CEO of Crescent Petroleum said that six challenges face the private sector in the Arab world to convoy the economic development and reforms led by the public sector.
Jaafar said that the private sector in the region needs to reform the labor market and the potential of workers on displacing, reforming bankruptcy laws, and facilitating procedures on companies’ establishment – he considered that such a process consists of 90 legal procedures, which may require a whole year to be set.
The fourth procedure is enhancing contracts among institutions of the public and private sector, the fifth is to reform commercial brokering operations, and finally, credible and fair governance rules should be provided, said Jaafar.
Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Imad Fakhoury said that the reform of the education system in the Arab world has been a priority to secure the political and economic stability in our countries. He added that the region must create 100 million job vacancies within the coming years to achieve the development of economies and maintain stability.