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Winds of change blowing says Friedman.

(Date: Sunday, May 06, 2012 )

The Middle East is witnessing the end of a 100-year-old order and the lid has been thrown open for the winds of change, a leading commentator has said.

Policy-makers and governments must enable the region's youth to realise their full potential, said Thomas Friedman, foreign affairs correspondent of The New York Times, who delivered the keynote address at the first 'IHT Global Conversation,' held in Dubai recently.

The event marked the 125th anniversary of The International Herald Tribune (IHT), a premier international source of news, opinion and commentary for the global community.

Speaking on the conference's key topic, 'The Middle East's Role on the New Silk Road,' Friedman highlighted the challenges in today's 'hyper-connected world,' reminding audiences that the age of 'average is officially over.'

To be competitive in the new world order, one has to 'think like an immigrant, create like an artisan, work like a start-up and provide service like a waitress,' and continuously create a unique value add, he said.

Tarik Yousef, chief executive officer of Silatech, Qatar; Nader Mousavizadeh, chief executive officer of Oxford Analytica; and Masood Ahmed, director of the Middle East and Central Asia, in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) joined Friedman in the panel discussion, moderated by Serge Schmemann, editor of the IHT editorial page.

Introducing the topic, Schmemann said: "There is no question that Asia and the Middle East are facing critical political and social challenges. But that makes it all the more important to discuss the 'New Silk Road,' because the shift of economic power from West to East is inexorable. The huge economic opportunities opening along the arc from China to the Middle East and beyond to Africa and South America will require enlightened and creative leadership, and it is important to start talking now about what this means in concrete terms."

Tarik Yousef said that China's growing geopolitical and economic dynamism have presented new strategic and economic opportunities for the Arab world, while Nader Mousavizadeh presented the importance of energy revolution and its impact on the New Silk Road.

Masood Ahmed said that a New Silk Road provides the opportunity for the Middle East and North Africa region to better integrate into global markets but this requires far-reaching reforms in labour and product markets.

Stephen Dunbar-Johnson, publisher of the IHT, said: "Dubai has recaptured the dynamism that existed prior to the financial crisis, and served as the perfect destination to launch our first IHT Conversation session. As a regional hub for business and trade, the city also plays a strategic role on the New Silk Road. The enthusiastic participation of some of the region's thought leaders at the event, and the vibrant dialogue it generated among the audience, once again demonstrates the power of The International Herald Tribune to spark intellectual debate of global significance."

The IHT Conversation in Dubai, held at Armani Hotel Dubai in Burj Khalifa, was sponsored by Investment Corporation of Dubai (ICD), the specialised investment management organisation of the Government of Dubai, and Emaar Properties, the global property developer. Bank Muscat was the supporting sponsor. -- TradeArabia News Service

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Publication:TradeArabia (Manama, Bahrain)
Article Type:Conference notes
Geographic Code:70MID
Date:May 6, 2012
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