x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

WEF founder urges governments to take long view at Abu Dhabi summit

More than 1,000 global leaders gather to discuss the agenda for the forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland in January.

Professor Klaus Schwab, the founder and chairman of the [/URL]
Professor Klaus Schwab, the founder and chairman of the [/URL]

Professor Klaus Schwab, founder and chairman of the World Economic Forum (WEF), believes global governments focus too much on short-term crisis management to the detriment of long-term strategy.

His comments came at the opening plenary session of the WEF summit in Abu Dhabi, where more than 1,000 global leaders gathered to discuss the agenda for the forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, in January.

“Government and institutions around the world are too absorbed in the crisis-management mode. We have to take a holistic view. We cannot find solutions in departmentalised approaches. The task is to construct the future,” Prof Schwab said.

“The biggest challenge we have today is the incapability of the system of global governance to take the necessary time and devote the necessary attention to construct our future.”

He was accompanied by the summit’s co-chairmen, Sultan Al Mansouri, UAE Minister of Economy, and Nasser Ahmed Al Sowaidi, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development.

Mr Al Mansouri said that “economic reality” demanded that the UAE play a larger role in shaping the global economic order.

“The solution to some of the most pressing concerns of the world lies in sincere partnerships – between rich and poor nations, between large and small and medium enterprises and between global organisations and specialised organisations,” Mr Al Mansouri said.

Mr Al Sowaidi said: “In times such as these, the need for greater international cooperation is magnified. Situated at the dynamic centre of the Arab world, the UAE is committed to playing its part to facilitate and strengthen these global connections through increased social, political and economic cooperation.”

Mr Al Sowaidi outlined Abu Dhabi’s economic strategy: “At the core of Abu Dhabi’s vision is that an economy reliant on a single commodity will always be prone to volatility. Oil has been the commodity of our focus, it fuelled our development but other areas also need to be developed for the economy to succeed.”

Despite economic shocks from the 2008 global financial crisis and the Arab Spring uprisings, Abu Dhabi’s policymakers have continued to make steady headway into the capital’s Vision 2030 strategy.

National security adviser and vice-chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed said recently that a new five-year plan from 2013 to 2017 was drawn to keep the emirate’s priorities in line with its 2030 goals.

The diversification policy targets eight key sectors: cultural tourism, aviation, manufacturing, media, health care, petrochemical, financial services and renewable energy.

Mr Al Sowaidi described how Abu Dhabi has launched renewables-focused Masdar City, cultural hub Saadiyat Island and plans for financial free zone Abu Dhabi Global Market on Al Maryah island.

It has also created the free zone and port at Kizad to support an emerging industries sector, an aviation hub in Al Ain, and a significant nuclear project that is expected to create thousands of jobs for young Emirati nationals in the Western Region, he said.

Abu Dhabi is earmarking its non-oil economy to account for 60 per cent of real GDP by 2030 compared to 40 per cent currently. Its growth rate is at 9.6 per cent per year, according to official figures, accelerating faster than Abu Dhabi’s GDP growth, which is at 7.7 per cent.

Mr Al Mansouri said that the UAE had one of the highest literacy and life expectancy rates in the world, and revealed that 65 per cent of all government jobs were held by women.

The summit has been held in Dubai or Abu Dhabi for the past six years, and runs until tomorrow at Yas Island.

fkane@thenational.ae

halsayegh@thenational.ae