Amman – King of Jordan Abdullah II inaugurated on Saturday the World Economic Forum (WEF) on the Middle East and North Africa at the Dead Sea, in the presence of Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah.
The forum is held under the theme of “Empowering Generations into the Future”, with the participation of more than 1,100 politicians and business people from more than 50 countries who came together to find ways to transform stagnant economies of the troubled MENA.
The World Economic Forum’s regional gathering is looking at how to encourage entrepreneurship and technological innovation to create private-sector jobs in a region with 30 percent youth unemployment. Organizers have invited the founders of 100 start-ups from the Arab world, including some from conflict-scarred countries such as Syria, Yemen, and Libya.
Sessions stretching over two days will also look at the fallout from the region’s conflicts, including the uprooting of millions of people in the worst refugee crisis since World War II.
Crown Prince Hussein delivered the keynote speech at the opening session of the meeting.
He said in his speech that like young people everywhere, youth in the Middle East live in a vast sea of changes, but “our particular waters are characterized by two opposing currents.”
“On one side is a treacherous tide, luring our youth toward a dark reality, one that sinks us deeper into violence, intolerance, and regression, through the corrosive power of an extremist ideology; the other transporting us to sunnier shores, where moderation sees our Muslim and Arab identities at peace with modernity and progress, a reality where we can be productive and positive contributors to the world around us,” added the Crown Prince.
MENA forum’s head of regional strategies Mirek Dusek said that the focus now is on entrepreneurs, start-ups, and a generational transformation.
“The region’s young people are going to be a more valuable resource than energy reserves in this region,” added Dusek.
In the opening session, Iraqi President Fuad Masum called on investors to come to his country and help with reconstruction efforts, particularly in the northern city of Mosul, which was overrun by ISIS extremists in 2014.
Masum hoped the city would be liberated soon. “Our country is open to all investors,” he said.