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Jordan puts final touches to World Economic Forum preparations

More than 1,100 figures, including heads of state, to attend the forum

By Dana Al Emam - May 18,2017 - Last updated at May 18,2017

AMMAN — The World Economic Forum (WEF) on the Middle East and North Africa kicks off on Friday with a particular emphasis on building a better future for the younger generations of the region, organisers said on Thursday.

The event, to be held at the Dead Sea until May 21 under the theme “Enabling a Generational Transformation”, will witness the participation of more than 1,100 business, government and civil society leaders, as well as representatives from international organisations, youth and media from 50 countries, they added.

Speaking at a press conference, Chairperson of King Abdullah II Fund for Development (KAFD) and Planning Minister Imad Fakhoury said that the fact Jordan is hosting the event for the 9th time out of the 16 times it has been held in the region proves the Kingdom's "pivotal and leading" role in the region.

He added that Jordan's political and economic stability have entitled it to host the event, which serves as a platform for dialogue on policy making and reform between governments, the private sector, civil society organisations and the youth.

Organised in partnership with KAFD, the WEF will address three main themes: youth empowerment through the promotion of entrepreneurship and innovation, building inclusive economies and development and diplomatic efforts exerted to address regional conflicts and challenges.

The minister said the WEF meeting is an opportunity for Jordan to share its challenges and success stories while continuing to pressure the international community to support the country’s resilience in light of the burdens it shoulders due to regional instability.

He added that the event is an important platform for  investment opportunities, noting that the Kingdom has started implementing projects valued at $6.3 billion that were announced in the WEF held in Jordan in 2015. 

Fakhoury said a number of heads of state, business leaders and representatives of international agencies will be participating in the WEF, which will be held under the patronage of His Majesty King Abdullah and attended by Her Majesty Queen Rania.

With the global forum focusing on empowerment of the younger generations through innovation and entrepreneurship, HRH Crown Prince Hussein is scheduled to deliver a speech at the event’s main session on Saturday, according to Fakhoury.

In partnership with the WEF and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, Jordan is set to announce an initiative to improve infrastructure in countries of the region through public-private partnerships. 

Speaking at the joint press conference, Mirek Dusek, head of the Middle East and North Africa’s desk at the WEF, underlined the forum’s “strong partnership” with Jordan over the years, aimed to establish a constructive debate about the future of the region and the enhancement of economic and social inclusiveness.

This year, 235 women leaders will participate in the forum’s activities, a figure that has significantly increased since the 2015 WEF meeting, Dusek noted.

He said that the recently-announced initiative to feature 100 startups from the region during the forum is a move to highlight the “most underreported” story of the region’s innovation scene, and will provide a chance for innovators to discuss the necessary reforms with other stakeholders. 

Twenty-one Jordanian startups are among the ones selected to participate.

Dusek said this figure is a testimony to Jordan’s abundance in innovation and human potential, noting that over 200 applications were listed based on merit, in a “very competitive” process.  

In addition, the forum will feature a dialogue session to develop political solutions among decision makers in unstable countries in order to support entrepreneurship in their countries, Dusek said.

There will also be announcements of “exciting initiatives” for Jordan and the region, he added.

In light of its “future-oriented agenda”, the WEF will be using input from the forum’s social media platforms, and organisers will be broadcasting many sessions live, Dusek said, adding that one of the sessions will focus on electronic terrorism. 

In an interview with Jordan TV on Thursday morning, Minister of State for Media Affairs Mohammad Momani said that hosting the forum is an opportunity to discuss prospects of Jordan’s economic development and exchange expertise with participants.

 

Several sessions, panel discussions, and meetings will be held on the sidelines of the forum, while several agreements and memoranda of understanding that would enhance Jordan’s economy, according to Momani.

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