Sunday, May 20, 2007

Sher Value: The World Under Debate.

Call me a cynic but in my long career of finance and speaking and attending conventions I learned some pretty easy lessons. The more flamboyant the proceedings the chances are little will be done post conference; the longer the speech the less the action, and the list goes on. The World Economic Forum in Jordan, perhaps faces the challenge of not becoming another Davos summit, long on rhetoric and short on delivery. As someone once said that what people carried back from Davos was always a good story.

However, the challenge for the WEF at Jordan is remarkably different; it happens at time when, as clich├ęd as this may sound, the Middle East, along with the extension to Afghanistan and Pakistan, are perhaps at their fragile worst. While the Gulf States have a great story to tell, and one they must shout out, the proverbial apple cart of good tidings can be upset in one harsh political (or military) tug. While the view from Washington may well be that the issue is primarily of terrorism and democracy, many insiders realize its all about developing the opportunities for the human capital to improve their lot.

If Davos has failed to move beyond being a debating platform where promises were made, and perhaps broken, the WEF at Jordan is taking on the task of making some bold announcements, especially for the region. The test will be to keep these promises as the undernourished and starving are watching the developments, perhaps clearly aware that time is running out. There has to be a political settlement to all, and I mean all, outstanding political issues in the Middle East to allow for any sensible economic model to be rolled out. One cannot have disjointed solutions which can be derailed by political events and the carnage we have seen for the past few years repeated.

While the summit is known as an economic summit, the reality is that the convergence of the different pressures and trends within society, political or social, cannot be cast aside. If there is a message that needs to be put forward is that leaders of the region have to act, enough of sitting back and seeing the dividends of hard work being shoved into a net of inequalities and indifferences. Its time to overhaul the system and as Sh Mohammed bin Rashid stressed, become competitive to survive and grow. There has to be a comprehensive long term strategy that delivers, and delivers effectively. It cannot be any more that a minority of the people share the dividends of growth, and it seems that there is an emerging leadership that is seeing what strategies have to be adopted not tomorrow but for the next 25 years to employ over 70 million odd people. Its time to get real and that is what the summit must stress, and to do that ACT! The soap opera of human development has to end and the hard truth has to be molded for a better future for humankind, failure to do so will mean a catastrophe that will not be easy to comprehend.

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