No matter the circumstance we all felt the effects, and each country has different experiences and perspectives from which we can all learn.
Sharing the lessons from the global financial crisis at the Bahrain Global Forum
No region was immune from the effects of the global financial crisis. Many, such as the western economies, entered recession while others in Asia, the Middle East and Latin America continued to grow, albeit at lower rates of growth than before. Many major economies now face the daunting challenge of reducing huge debts, while other regions such as the Middle East are now investing in laying the foundations for higher levels of sustainable growth.
No matter the circumstance we all felt the effects, and each country has different experiences and perspectives from which we can all learn. What is clear is that many of the mistakes that led the world into the downturn were repeats of previous errors. The German philosopher Hegel tells us: "We learn from history that we don't learn from history." If we are to prove Hegel wrong this time we must ensure the lessons and best practice from economies right across the world - from East to West and from developed to emerging nations - are shared and understood.
In this respect, our own region has much to offer. Our position at the crossroads between East and West means we have always had the opportunity to learn from the experiences of both. And the region can offer perspectives that may be valuable to the rest of the world. This week's Bahrain Global Forum, organised by the International Institute of Strategic Studies, will promote discussion and facilitate debate and the sharing of best practice. The forum is designed as a platform for debate between developed and emerging nations on the management of the global economic order.
It brings together representatives of government and business, as well as leading thinkers and economists. Key topics for discussion include the changing balance of economic power and its effects, processes for ensuring strong global economic governance, protection of open markets and the changing role of the state in economic development. Our hope is that it will provide a real opportunity for the views and ideas of developing nations to be heard alongside those of the developed world. Such dialogue and debate will help ensure we learn from history by learning from each other.
First we can offer lessons in terms of regional economic co-operation, where moves to create a strong, single GCC market with unified customs and more recently, progress towards monetary union, will further support our mutual growth and development. We can also offer lessons in wider global collaboration, as the GCC has worked hard to extend its free-trade network through existing and pending agreements with Singapore, the European Free Trade Association, Australia, the EU, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Korea and Turkey.
Then there is financial services, where many of the principles of well constituted Islamic banking - particularly the avoidance of complex derivatives - provide a model under which opportunity can be sought with a more acceptable level of risk. And in terms of regulation, our experiences in Bahrain's financial service industry point to the benefits of the single regulator model. Another important consequence of the economic crisis is the acceleration in the shift of economic power from West to East, including the Middle East. While the West will always be important - the EU remains the world's largest and richest market - this process, which began long before the crisis, will be continuing.
But this shift is not yet reflected within the international institutions of global economic governance; bodies that make decisions affecting us all. The Group of 20 (G20) leading and developing economies is clearly a start with its inclusion of emerging economies. But it is only a start. Emerging nations and regions must continue to work hard to ensure their voices are heard, and that they develop an influence that reflects their growing economic status.
We must all continue to look at how the institutions of global governance - the G20, the IMF and the World Bank - can become more representative of emerging nations over time. Realistically, this is a long process. It will not happen over night. In the meantime, there is much we can do to ensure the relevant experiences, lessons and best practice from our own region and other emerging nations are shared.
Mohammed bin Essa Al Khalifa is the chief executive of the economic development board in Bahrain