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WEF meeting begins today at Davos with a strong Arab presence

High-level delegations from the region will discuss energy transition, climate roadmap, and stability in the MENA region, among other issues

WEF meeting begins today at Davos with a strong Arab presence
[Source photo: Anvita Gupta/Fast Company Middle East]

To discuss pressing issues such as global inflation, sustainability, energy transition, and climate change, world leaders will join the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, today. This year, there’s record participation from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), reflecting the region’s importance in energy transition and climate change.

“We have six heads of state and government and very strong delegations,” WEF President Borge Brende said at a press briefing last week. He added that the “Middle East is also important when it comes to investments, with sovereign wealth funds that are investing all over the world.”

In view of COP28, the UAE has an important role to play at the annual meeting, which will highlight a road map of the key priorities and actions ahead of the climate summit.

The UAE delegation includes Ohood Al Roumi, Minister of State for Governmental Development and Future, Omar Al Olama, Minister of State for Digital Economy, AI and Remote Working System, Sarah Al Amiri, Minister of State for Public Education and Future Technology, Dr. Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, Hessa Buhumaid, Minister of Community Development, and Abdulla Bin Touq, Minister of Economy.

Other Emirati officials in Davos include DP World chairman and chief executive Sultan Bin Sulayem and Khaldoon Al Mubarak, managing director and group chief executive of Mubadala Investment Company.

Meanwhile, Faisal Alibrahim, the minister of economy and planning, leads Saudi Arabia’s high-level delegation. The delegation includes Princess Reema bint Bandar Al-Saud, the ambassador to the US; Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan; Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir; Minister of Investment Khalid Al-Falih; Minister of Finance Mohammed Al-Jadaan; Minister of Communication and Information Technology Abdullah Al-Swaha; Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar Al-Khorayef; and Fahd Al-Rasheed, CEO of the Royal Commission for Riyadh City.

A kingdom-focused panel discussion titled Saudi Arabia’s Transformation in the Changing Global Context will be held at one of the forum’s main stages, while Alibrahim’s main session, Between Liquidity and Fragility: Reforming in MENA, will take place on January 19.

On Tuesday, the role of philanthropy in climate efforts will be in focus when Rania Al Mashat, Egypt’s Minister of International Cooperation, John Kerry, US climate enjoy, Mark Carney, UN Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance, Badr Jafar, chief executive of the UAE’s Crescent Enterprises and Desmond Kuek, chief executive of Temasek Trust, take part in a discussion.

On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia’s Prince Faisal will join the foreign minister from Iraq, Fuad Hussein, Mohamad Al Ississ, Jordan’s Minister of Finance, UN’s Yemen envoy Hans Grundberg and Dutch defense minister Kajsa Ollongren for a discussion on stability in the MENA region.

Qatar Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed Al Thani and Prince Faisal will join the International Monetary Fund chief Kristalina Georgieva, US Senator Chris Coons and Finnish foreign minister Pekka Haavisto to discuss energy and politics.

The annual meeting is based on the theme, Cooperation in a Fragmented World and will conclude on 20 January. The 53rd annual meeting will be joined by more than 2,700 leaders from 130 countries, including 52 heads of state/government.

In addition, the Davos meeting will feature the highest-ever business participation, with more than 1,500 leaders registered across 700 organizations, including over 600 of the world’s top CEOs from the WEF Partners.

More than 125 experts and heads of leading universities, research institutions, and think tanks will join the meeting.

The WEF meeting is a major platform for global leaders to address the world’s multiple crises. 

“We see the manifold political, economic, and social forces creating increased fragmentation on a global and national level. To address the root causes of this erosion of trust, we need to reinforce cooperation between the government and business sectors, creating the conditions for a strong and durable recovery,” WEF Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab said.

Today, the opening concert, titled I Sea You, a cultural message of unity and collaboration, and a call to action to world leaders and policy-makers to protect and preserve the coral reefs of the Northern Red Sea, brings together renowned musicians from Egypt, Jordan and Israel. 

The concert features performances by internationally acclaimed award-winning artists including singer, songwriter, composer and activist Noa, also known as Achinoam Nini, accompanied by her long standing musical collaborator Gil Dor; Egyptian soprano Fatma Said, accompanied by German pianist, composer and arranger Tim Allhoff; and Jordanian virtuoso Farah Siraj, accompanied by guitarist, composer and producer Andreas Arnold.

The concert also includes an immersive backdrop featuring footage of the Red Sea corals filmed by environmentalist and deep-sea diver Nouf Alosaimi, as well as imagery by Coral Morphologic.

The last in-person Davos winter gathering was in 2020, just days before the COVID-19 outbreak was declared a global health emergency. The 2021 event was held virtually, and last year’s summit was shifted from January to May after a spike in infections.

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