5 December 2007

Fikr6; Final Thoughts

After a three day fiesta, the Fikr6 conference has come to an end. Overall, the conference covered many issues of interest to the Arab region, discussed concepts for growth and adaptation in the growing world, and dealt with strategies for the future.

The final day was again filled with more hot topics and heated discussions, and although I will not go into detail over the specific subjects, a number of interesting concepts were raised:

- Role in Globalization
A question was raised over what the Arab world has contributed to the process of Globalization; the answer was "We buy. The world produces and we buy". This does make you think, considering that we have become consumer economies rather than producers (with the exception of oil). We don't export motor vehicles, we don't export electronics, we don't export technology, and so on. People don't travel to world to attend our universities, people don't leave their countries to recieve our healthcare.

Sure, a few countries do produce and offer services to a certain extent, but overall the general notion is that we consume. Essentially this means that most of our money is not being used inside our countries, and is slowly being pumped out of the region. Cash inflow from outside the region isn't very outstanding either, and besides the petroleum (for a few countries) and to a certain extent, investments, what else do we really have to offer the world? Isn't it about time this started to change?

- Arab Unity
Everyone seems to be talking about Arab unity, a single strategy, a single plan. Although this is a great idea, why do we restrict ourselves to it? Why wait for this to be a pre-requisite? Unity of the Arabs, and a single strategy is going to take a long time to create, and a lot of politic, economic and societal issues will come in the way before it is achieved. Before creating this unity, each country needs to take it's own initiative and finds it's own strengths, and build upon those. A collective strategy could be placed parallel to each country building on itself.

- Private Sector Innovation
In terms of innovation and action, the private sector in our countries needs to make big steps. The past has shown that most big initiatives in the region were started by the private sector, and after reaching a large enough size, were then taken on by the public sector. Example in point; Bahrain. Real-estate investment and properties were not very big on the government agenda, but as the private sector (initially with the investment banks) started pulling in investors and proving that this was infact a very profitable business, the government took notice, and started to become more and more interested in the concept, until finally placing it on it's list of priorities.

The public sector can help build initiative by changing legislation and so on, but most schemes are usually started through the private sector, and support should be provided to them to come up with new proposals and ideas.

- Strategy vs. Action
Strategies and plans have been discussed between the Arabs for years and years; a plan to compete in the global markets, a plan for growth strategies, plans for unity, plans for production, for diversification, and so on.

Till when will we keep talking about strategies and plans? This is the time for action.

Overall, the conference ended on a great note, and hopefully some of these ideas will be delivered to the decision makers in our region, helping us to evolve. The whole experience was exciting, and truthfully I think we need more of these events, to bring us together to discuss ideas, thoughts, and experiences.


Anonymous said...

Role in Globalization is interesting. Probably Arabs can export brain and manpower(like what most of the third world countries do) and for that high level of education is required(which has to be imported).

Unity among Arabs can bring great positive outcomes if implemented correctly. There are lot of Arab nations(all speak the same language and follow the same culture), yet some countries are rich and some poor.

Interesting post! :)

Anonymous said...

I wonder how much money was wasted on this event? Especially when it will bring no change.

I do not want to see "intellectuals" and "leaders" having meetings and discussing what should be done. I want to see them DO the things they discuss (which never seems to ever happen).



outkasty said...

no piQtures? =[

KJ said...

ammaro, I see AUS raised a fine student!

The unity of Arabs is a bit far fetched with today's leadership mentalities. Everyone in this and the younger generations are waking up to the fact that "this bullshit cannot go on any longer", and are simply waiting for the older idiots to die off before they can do something.

For unity to happen, acceptance and compromise must happen. If the GCC truly unite by adding the financial and developmental aspects together, it will be a great step for the future. Next up to unite would be the Levantine region.

Anyhoo, they better do it quick!

Shale bin Agnon said...

What you wrote sounds great, but also a little to0 mutual-back-slappingly aspirational. The EU started with the European Coal and Steel Community.

Is there anyway to make a quick buck out of unity? That will motivate people more than idealism.

Zhu said...

Hope something good comes out of it. Arabic countries have so much potential!

Shoush said...

Very interesting. I wud love to attend a conference like this one.

As ZHU said, "hope something good comes out of it".

Anonymous said...

Really enjoyed reading this post :)

I wish I could someday be part of this conference!