Rebuilding Peace, Connecting Start-Ups, Preparing for Future Jobs – World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa Opens Tomorrow

18 May 2017

Georg Schmitt, Lead, Corporate Affairs and Foundations, Public Engagement, Email:

· H.R.H. Crown Prince Al Hussein bin Abdullah II of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan will address more than 1,100 global and regional leaders on the theme of Enabling a Generational Transformation

· 100 start-ups from the Arab world will connect with established business and government leaders

· This is the most inclusive and open meeting of the Forum in the region to date. Learn more here.

Amman, Jordan, 18 May 2017 – The World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa is taking place at the Dead Sea in Jordan on 19-21 May. The 16th meeting in the region brings together a diverse group of leaders to address the persistent humanitarian crisis, the challenges presented to employment and jobs by the dawning Fourth Industrial Revolution, the gender gap holding back regional competitiveness and inclusion, the future of Syria and Iraq, and the way forward through economic and political reforms.

The meeting’s theme of Enabling a Generational Transformation highlights the key role that young people will play in realizing the region’s promise. However, as 31% of young people in the region are unemployed, new initiatives and urgent action are needed to realize this potential. When skilled talent is present – particularly educated women – it is not being deployed effectively in the workforce. The new report, Future of Jobs and Skills in MENA: Preparing the Region for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, released yesterday, finds that few of the region’s economies are fully prepared for the impending disruption to jobs and skills brought about by technological change.

The World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa offers unprecedented high-level participation, with 10 heads of state and government, more than 130 public figures and 500 global and regional business leaders. It also brings together the following groups:

  • One hundred start-ups from the Arab world – many of which have been founded under the most challenging circumstances – including Arabic voice-recognition software developed in Syria, the first e-mobile wallet in Libya, a labour marketplace in Yemen and mobile games produced by a team in Gaza
  • Young people, whose role will be crucial in moving the region forward, including a record number Global Shapers (under 30 years old) and Young Global Leaders (under 40)
  • Social Entrepreneurs from the Schwab Foundation, who are using modern business methods to achieve systems change for marginalized communities
  • A high-level delegation of Iraqi faith leaders and religious experts from Sunni Islam, Shia Islam and Christianity, as well as minority groups; with more than 80% of the region’s population adhering to a religion, faith communities represent a powerful driver to help rebuild a war-torn Iraq
  • Young Jordanians, who are invited to an Open Forum – a Forum-style session open to the general public – to discuss the role of entrepreneurship in reforming and transforming society; the session is held in Amman on 18 May
  • Refugees from the Zaatari camp, who will meet with the Forum’s Regional Business Council to find innovative ways to build on the success of free trade zones, allowing refugee-made products to reach markets
  • Major Jordanian providers who are part of the launch of the Internet for All initiative, which aims to provide internet access to everybody

“The current reform momentum in the Middle East and North Africa is promising, but success is not guaranteed. Together with our long-term partner Jordan, the World Economic Forum is hosting its biggest-ever meeting of entrepreneurs and start-ups in the region. We’re inviting them to advise leaders on new growth strategies that will bring prosperity and bolster peace efforts throughout the region,” said Mirek Dusek, Head of Regional Strategies - Middle East and North Africa at the World Economic Forum.

Selected public figures are: Fuad Masum, President of Iraq; Sherif Ismail, Prime Minister of Egypt; Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia; Hani Mulki, Prime Minister and Minister of Defence of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan; Masoud Barzani, President of the Kurdistan Regional Government; H.R.H. Felipe VI, King of Spain; H.R.H. Princess Beatrice, Princess of York, United Kingdom; Ghassan Hasbani, Deputy Prime Minister of Lebanon; Didier Burkhalter, Federal Councillor of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland; Imad Najib Fakhoury, Minister of Planning and International Cooperation of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan; Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship of Canada; Hend Al Sabeeh, Minister of Social Affairs and Labour and Minister of Economic Affairs of Kuwait; Ahmed Bin Jassim Bin Mohamed Al Thani, Minister of Economy and Commerce of Qatar; Nihat Zeybekci, Minister of Economy of Turkey; Irina Georgieva Bokova, Director-General of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); Kelly Clements; Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees, (UNHCR); Peter Maurer, President, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC); Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission; and William Lacy Swing, Director-General, International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The Co-Chairs of the meeting are Dominic Barton, Global Managing Partner, McKinsey & Company, United Kingdom; Khaled H. Biyari, Chief Executive Officer, Saudi Telecom, Saudi Arabia; Børge Brende, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway; Khadija Idrissi Janati, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, KMK Groupe, Morocco; Philippe Le Houérou, Executive Vice-President and Chief Executive Officer, International Finance Corporation, Washington DC; Majid Jafar, Chief Executive Officer, Crescent Petroleum, United Arab Emirates; Maurice Lévy, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Publicis Groupe, France; Arif Naqvi, Founder and Group Chief Executive, The Abraaj Group, United Arab Emirates; and Ursula von der Leyen, Federal Minister of Defence of Germany.

The Sustainable Investment Partnership (SDIP), a collaborative initiative managed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the World Economic Forum, is launching its MENA Hub with the support of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to address specific financial challenges to projects in the Middle East and North Africa. Its goal is to scale up sustainable infrastructure investments throughout the region. SDIP brings together 36 governments, banks, pension funds and philanthropic organizations committed to mobilizing $100 billion in blended finance for sustainable and climate-resilient infrastructure in developing countries. Jordan is the first country in the region to join as member of SDIP.

Notes to Editors

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