2012 MEF edition scheduled on February 3-4, 2013

In order to welcome the oustanding participation and intervention of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qassimi, Ruler of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, the second edition of the MENA Economic Forum has been postponed from November 2012 to February 2013.

February 3, 2013

18.00 Registration

American University of Sharjah

American University of Sharjah

19.15 Inaugural Address

Conference Hall

His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qassimi, Ruler of Sharjah, UAE

His Highness Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, UAE

19.45 Inaugural Session

Panel #1: High Officials
H.E. Dr. Anwar Gargash
H.E. Jack Lang
H.E. Cherif Rahmani
H.E. Philippe Douste-Blazy
H.E. Bariza Khiari
H.E. Homaid Al Shemmari

Panel #2: Experts
H.E. Miguel Àngel Moratinos
H.E. Ahmed Tibaoui
H.E. Anne Lauvergeon
H.E. Sheikh K. Bin Jaber Al Thani
H.E. Fouad Makhzoumi
H.E. Simon Henderson
H.E. Saeed Al Mazrouei
H.E. Lionel Zinsou

Moderated by
Dr. Peter Heath
Pr. Bernard Belletante

Conference Hall

Transitions in MENA: How Can the West and the GCC Cooperate and Meet Future Challenges?

Economic and political reforms are needed to sustain the development of the MENA countries and maintain long-term stability. However, recent events have challenged this stability, leading to the slowing down of economic growth. Facing considerable competition from other regions and a growing pressure from the young workforce, MENA countries need to implement significant economic and regulatory reforms to succeed in their transition.

Through the Deauville Partnership, the G8 worked towards improving policy frameworks for investment and governance, and advancing a structural reform agenda. Other international initiatives have been launched to support the economy of the most fragile states. Although important, international support does not seem to be the only means to achieve growth. MENA countries need to design economic strategies to be competitive and attractive to FDIs in an increasingly globalised world. This requires defining the sectors for which they enjoy an economic advantage and promoting better integration among these countries.

  • What role could the West play in facilitating both positive and long-lasting economic changes in the region?
  • What kind of cooperation could benefit the region?

21.30 Gala Dinner

Dinner Room

February 4, 2013

08.00 Registration

American University of Sharjah

09.30 Opening Session

Opening keynotes
H.E. Jack Lang
Pr. Gilles Kepel

Panel discussion
Khaldoun Tabari
Jose A. Lopez-Monis Plaza
H.E. Fahad Al Raqbani
Sultan Abu Sultan
Badr Jafar
Varouj Nerguizian
Faizal Kottikollon
Fahad Al Othman
Jay Footlik
Pr. Jean-Louis Reiffers

Moderated by
Fatiha Dazi-Héni
Dr. Hashem Dezhbakhsh

Conference Hall

Challenges & Opportunities in the Aftermath of the Arab Spring

The Arab Spring, as unexpected as it was, has not only brought a popular uprising and several societal actors together but it also has created major challenges and concerns. The MENA region has faced changes, for some progressive and others more radical, but whatever the issue, the main “win” of these situations is that citizens have been heard and had power over unfitted governments. Transformations such as socioeconomic or political have pushed societal actors who were usually unheard (like civil society movements, including women and youth organizations) to be present and more active.

The future of these regions is now in the hands of the people as well as the new governments in place when it is the case. However, the challenges these revolutions face have consequences such as instability and the slowing down of economic growth with competition from other regions rising and pressuring the MENA countries to make important changes for them to grow.

The Arab Spring is as much a revolution as a challenge and partnering with the West can help find sustainable solutions for the MENA countries to rise again.

  • Will broad-based economic opportunities flourish?
  • What will happen to wealth distribution in the future? Will Arab economies open up more drastically?
  • What role could Europe play in facilitating both positive and long-lasting economic changes in the region?

10.30 Plenary Session

Panel #1: Infrastructures & Utilities
Jose A. Lopez-Monis Plaza
H.E. Mohamed Ben Laden
H.E. Salah Al Shamsi
H.E. Saif Al Ghafli
Dr. Afnan Al Shuaiby
Bora Yidilz
Ardavan Amir Aslani
Régis Arnoux

Panel #2: Energy & Water
Mazen Al Sawwaf
Patrice Fonlladosa
Ali Nouri
Sultan Al Hajji
Simon Henderson
Walid Saleh

Moderated by
Franck Galland
Yahia Zoubir

Conference Hall

Infrastructures & Utilities: Building Resources for the Future

MENA is confronted with an increasing need for infrastructure due to social, economic and demographic changes. To undergo and sustain their own economic growth and build the foundation for a successful economic transition, MENA requires funds, expertise and public-private partnerships. This need is particularly emphasized in the area of energy resources management and water scarcity which are key challenges for many countries of the MENA region.

By 2030, the lack of water availability will become a severe constraint to the socio-economic development in the region which explains the need for the construction of desalination technologies as well as for the maximization on waste water treatments and recycling.

The need to find sustainable and innovative solutions is a common issue for Europe and MENA. A partnership could create a real opportunity to share knowledge about infrastructures or innovation and build a comprehensive approach to ecology.

  • What are the common problems faced in Europe and MENA?
  • To what extent would collaboration generates new solutions?
  • What experptise could Europe bring to the countries of the MENA region?

12.00 Plenary Session

Panel discussion
Mishal Kanoo
Constantin Salameh
Jérôme Droesch
Basil Al Ghalayini
Lionel Zinsou
Emmanuel Limido
Romen Mathieu
Farid Masmoudi

Moderated by
Dr. Cleve McDaniel
Abderahmane Fodil

Conference Hall

Finance: In Support of Today’s MENA Massive Requirements

The MENA region currently faces meaningful challenges in terms of GDP growth, job creation and economic diversification. A strong and efficient financial sector is key to help address these challenges. In spite of the oil windfall coming in support of public finances in certain countries, financing and technical expertise will have to come to a large extent from non-governmental sources (Banks, Private Equity funds, Regional and foreign corporates, Developmental institutions). Also, the emerging nature of the region and overall economic uncertainty generates challenges for financial institutions in supporting companies and projects while managing downside risk. At the same time, the region embodies sizeable opportunities based on population growth and the region’s positioning as a gateway between the West and Asia.

What are the key challenges players in the financial sector are facing to appropriately channel their resources to areas where financing is needed? How can these challenges be addressed?

  • In which areas are you seeing attractive investment opportunities?
  • How can the financial sector (in particular Private Equity) help create much needed jobs in the regional Private Sector? What are the current prospects for regional Private Equity?
  • How can European players positively contribute to this situation?
  • What role can Islamic finance play in supporting the regional economy?

13.00 Luncheon

Lunch Room

14.30 Plenary Session

Panel #1: Higher Education
Dr. Peter Heath
Fred Moavenzadeh
Bernard Paranque
Dr. Hala Taweel
Thami Ghorfi*
Edouard Tétreau
Maurice Aboukrat

Panel #2: Healthcare
H.E. Khalid Bin Jaber Al Thani
Mussaad Al Razouki
Christian Béchon
Pr. Salem Chouaib
Radhi Meddeb
Benoît Tamalet

Moderated by
Dr. Thomas Hochstettler
Slimane Zeghidour

Conference Hall

Higher Education & Healthcare: Meeting Higher Standards

Education plays a crucial role. Actually, the development of knowledge through research and the need for a qualified workforce are two aspects in which Europe and MENA can collaborate. The partnerships between universities could lead to positive impacts on research, innovation and ultimately on economic growth. Nevertheless, higher education still needs to be broaden and the quality needs to be further improved. Indeed, young people with secondary and post-secondary education face severe difficulties in securing employment mainly due to skills mismatches.
In promoting poverty alleviation and economic growth, both at national and at household levels, education reflects people’s aspirations for a successful integration into the global economy in an ever changing world. It is paramount to the long term development of MENA.

This could create better healthcare and higher quality health services which are key factors to the well-being of a population. Around $10 billion are dedicated to healthcare projects in GCC as the need for services and facilities increases.

The characteristics of healthcare have to improve in order to match the population’s needs as well as to keep up with medical high standards related to the used of new technologies. The collaboration between the healthcare main actors within and outside the MENA countries seems to be a positive option to deliver quality services and improve the expertise in the region.

  • To what extent could a partnership be positive for Europe and MENA?
  • How to better enhance research collaboration between Europe and MENA?
  • To what extent is it possible to meet higher standards in healthcare?
  • What kinds of reforms are needed in each of these countries? Is collaboration in healthcare possible and needed in the region? What is the role of the private sector?

17.30 Closing Address

Conference Hall