Beirut Institute Summit distinguished Co-chair His Royal Highness Prince Turki Al Faisal, Beirut Institute Founder and Executive Chairman Raghida Dergham, and knowledge partner A.T. Kearney and its Global Business Policy Council, today made public the policy recommendations that emerged from Beirut Institute Summit in Abu Dhabi in October 2015 entitled ‘Reconfiguring the Arab region and its global space beyond political economy and security threats’. The groundbreaking dialogue at the Summit and the bold policy recommendations that emerged from it fall into five key focus areas: urgently stabilize the security environment, accelerate and deepen Arab strategic alignment, unleash next generation economic growth, strengthen societal cohesion across the region and drive toward an inclusive regional security architecture.
Speaking at the launch event today, His Royal Highness Prince Turki Al Faisal, leading member of Beirut Institute Board of Directors said: “Government officials, public and private sector luminaries and next generation leaders deliberated exhaustively at the Beirut Institute Summit. That fruitful dialogue resulted in bold thinking and the development of actionable policy recommendations on which urgent action is critical. I encourage leaders across the region to face our intensifying challenges, harness the unprecedented opportunities before us and build a future worthy of the people of the Arab region.”
Beirut Institute Founder and Executive Chairman, Raghida Dergham commented: “The policy recommendations define a roadmap to generate a worthy cycle of tangible change and empowerment in the Arab region. The emphasis is on Arab minds taking the lead on how to tackle the issues impacting our societies combined with the collaboration of global leaders.”
The geopolitical situation is driving regional uncertainty, insecurity and an apparent divergence of interests that makes collective action exceptionally difficult. The five pillars of policy recommendations launched call upon regional and global leaders to act decisively:
Urgently stabilize the security environment
Creating the foundational security necessary for comprehensive progress in the region is critical. The escalating violence in Syria, Yemen, Libya and Iraq is currently the most significant source of suffering and instability in the Middle East. A rapid reduction of violence in these countries is a key condition for meaningful progress on the critical political, economic and social fronts across the region. The recommendations include funding and implementing a regional stabilization and reconstruction plan, deepening humanitarian support to refugees and intensifying efforts to defeat Daesh militarily and by de-legitimizing its narrative.
Accelerate Arab strategic alignment
A key cause of the instability in the Arab region is the lack of an aligned Arab strategic perspective, diplomatic voice and military capability. While Arab states must continue to adhere to the principle of unequivocal respect for each other’s national sovereignty, there must also be a move to institutionalize greater Arab strategic alignment.
Recommendations include development of an Arab 2030 strategic plan and tangible, results-oriented roadmap for its achievement, formal institutionalization of the Joint Arab Defence Force, and the creation of a compelling vision for the people of the region. In addition, the recommendations include a clear call for a renewed spirit of active engagement with the wider world across the region.
Unleash next generation, transformative economic growth
The root cause of many of the most significant challenges facing the region is stagnant economic growth. Creating strong, innovation-driven growth is a central imperative for generating jobs and cultivating flourishing societies. Given the challenging global dynamics of the hydrocarbon economy, this imperative is more urgent than ever.
On the topic of the Arab economy, Rudolph Lohmeyer, Director – Global Business Policy Council, A.T. Kearney said: “Shifting the long-term growth curve requires removing unproductive barriers to intra-regional economic activity, deepening linkages to the global economy and simultaneously enabling the region to harness the emerging engines of inclusive, innovation-centered economic growth. The recommendations in the report outline steps to drive this effort systematically – including through radically improving the enabling environment for entrepreneurship, deepening investment in science, technology and engineering research and development and accelerating education reform.”
Strengthening societal cohesion
Improving the foundations of good governance across the Arab region is another vital priority for realizing the future envisioned by the Summit participants. Thus, the recommendations center on driving evolutionary progress in the rule of law, accountability and inclusive governance.
Crucial to this effort are decisive steps to empower women economically, politically and socially. In addition, engaging the growing youth population of the region is an urgent priority.
Build a regional security architecture
Reformulating the security architecture of the Middle East is essential for the creation of sustainable peace and prosperity. This requires, at the outset, a re-intensification of efforts to resolve the question of Palestine on the basis of a two state solution centered on advancing the Arab Peace Initiative.
In addition, the bilateral relationship between Saudi Arabia and Iran represents a central driver of the geopolitical, social and economic evolution of the Middle East. Therefore, an energetic effort to regularise dialogue between these two powers is imperative for the region and the world.