Opening the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa

Remarks by His Majesty King Abdullah II

Opening the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa

JordanDead Sea
06 April 2019

كلمة جلالة الملك عبدالله الثاني في الجلسة الافتتاحية للمنتدى الاقتصادي العالمي في البحر الميت 2019

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful.

On behalf of Jordan, a warm welcome to this truly distinguished gathering. And I am truly delighted to help kick off what promises to be an outstanding programme.

Let me extend a special welcome to the heads of state who join us today from Armenia, Djibouti, Palestine, and Nigeria, as well as my dear friend the Secretary General of the United Nations, and the Chief Executive of Afghanistan. To Your Excellencies, and my dear friend, Professor Schwab, thank you for standing behind the region’s heroes and visionaries and pioneers, the young people who are shaping our future.

My friends,

This Forum will be tackling some of the most important issues affecting our region, but they all boil down to a simple reality—our people need you, leaders and partners, in so many fields, to act, and the entire world needs you to succeed.

The more than 300 million people of our region provide a talent pool eager to compete on a global level, and a huge marketplace of consumers and businesses.

And for every investment in this region’s great opportunities, for every investment that creates jobs for our young people, and helps families bring good pay home, our economies grow and opportunities redouble. That’s a benefit for us, but it is also a benefit for others, because what happens in our region impacts the entire world.

And it takes a broad partnership to create a platform for economic growth—private sector investment and productivity at every level, including small and medium enterprises; public sectors that support business confidence and economic success; as well as global partners to flow investments into positive futures.

Now all this begins at home, with region-led initiatives for our prosperity and growth. And Jordan is committed to this path.

As you know, our economy has faced significant challenges over the past decade. In doing the right thing for desperate refugees, Jordan’s own people have paid an enormous price, and we are working closely with international partners to increase help for refugees and host communities alike.

We are also looking towards the growth that comes with abundant, real opportunity, our economic situation is promising. Indeed, the recent London Initiative was a timely vote of confidence in our strong and resilient country and our sound approach.

This, of course, is just the beginning. To grow opportunities faster, Jordan is making a priority of economic sectors that offer high growth potential and multiple openings for investment. Now these will take advantage of our country’s distinctive economic strengths, including our many FTAs and strong trade ties, linking us to more than a billion consumers worldwide. We are also harnessing our rich resources of clean, renewable energy. Indeed, by next year, we expect one-fifth of our energy will be generated through renewables.

But our most important strength is Jordan’s high-skill human capital. Our young people are globally connected, tech savvy, fluent in multiple languages, and determined to succeed. They are proven assets to every enterprise. And we have already seen this strength at work, in the success of Jordan’s ICT industry, which has created thousands of new jobs and accessed markets across the region and beyond.

Indeed, a national focus on education and innovation has helped nurture an ecosystem of entrepreneurship and start-ups, helping Jordan lead the way in creative, youth-oriented sectors.

And the same sectors that benefit from our people’s strong skill-sets also open doors to the good jobs they need and expect. And let me say, women are a critical part of our economic future, and we are expanding every avenue to success.

A little later today, you will hear about one of our most promising service sectors, tourism. We are seeing rising numbers of foreign visitors to Jordan. They know and trust our welcoming, secure country, and they are drawn to our many and diverse destinations.

And tourism is only one area of growth. Others include professional services, business-process outsourcing, social-media marketing, app development, and more.

And Jordan is actively supporting the growth of opportunity. Now across all sectors, reforms are underway to support and foster a healthy business climate. We will continue to back innovation and enterprise—from start-ups to the global leaders that have made us a base. And above all, we are listening to you, about what is needed for opportunity to flourish.

My friends,

The challenges our countries face today are not just “problems to solve”. They are opportunities to collaborate and move forward together.

And believe me, anything that you want for yourselves and your families, our region’s people want for themselves and their families, too—good jobs, liveable cities and communities, technologies and apps designed for our shared prosperity.

So, in your meetings here, when you talk about the Fourth Industrial Revolution, think about the ways our world can transform people’s lives for the better, and then, help that transformation succeed.

When you discuss economic models, think of how to best serve our young people, and then, help them achieve the hope and fulfilment they deserve.

When you consider environmental stewardship, look not only at the big picture, but the small actions that harm or help, and then, decide to help.

And as you seek common ground—here, and in the days ahead—remember that what you achieve together will be vital to the future we all share.

I wish you every success.

Thank you very much.