UAE VP: countries failing to adapt with ’18 change will fall behind

DUBAI– UAE Vice-President Sheikh Mohammad Al-Maktoum said Tuesday the Arab world was witnessing political and economic changes, and the countries which “fail to cope with these changes will fall behind for long years to come.” He said “big Arab countries,” which he did not mention, would witness huge economic reforms next year, and oil exporting countries have conducted “very productive reforms which are positive indications” for a better future.

Sheikh Mohammad, also Ruler of Dubai, was speaking at the opening of the Arab Strategy Forum, dubbed “State of the World in 2018,” which saw participation of renowned politicians and economists.

He hoped next year would see breakthroughs for some critical Arab crises.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is ready for any changes that can happen in 2018, said Sheikh Mohammad, because “we have a diversified economic base, a solid international trade movement and the expertise.” Former French President Francois Hollande spoke of the State of the World Geopolitics in 2018, and said proliferation of nuclear weapons was the globe’s biggest threat.

Despite the defeat of so-called Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria, said Hollande, the threat posed by the terrorist groups, who may operate in small cells, would grow in 2018.

On North Korea, Hollande expected the conflict with Pyongyang to be solved via negotiations rather than the military option.

For his part, US former secretary of defense Robert Gates warned against North Korea’s developing its ballistic missile system, which could pose a threat to international security.

He downplayed the possibility of a military confrontation between the United States and North Korea expecting that matter would settle down through dialogue.

On terrorism, Gates said it would continue targeting major cities across the world despite the last defeats suffered by IS in Syria and Iraq.

He urged the countries of the world to scale up joint action and coordination to eradicate terrorist groups and prevent them from acquiring weapons of mass destruction.

He expected 2018 to see Russia and China expanding their roles in the Middle East region and beyond given the contradictions in the US foreing policy.

On a similar note, Ian Bremmer, president and founder of Eurasia Group – a leading global political risk research and consulting firm, said China is able to lead the world economy at a time when the United States and the European countries are no longer able to build effective alliances.

The nationalist trends and disputes in the western countries, coupled with major economic monopolies, led to the dwindling of the western economic model in favor of the countries such as China and Japan, he argued.

Meanwhile, Jihad Azour, Director of the IMF Middle East and Central Asia Department, said the world would see major economic transformations next year.

The Arab economies are expected to grow by 3.7 percent, despite the lukewarm reforms, which hinder their ability to achieve a faster growth, he said.

Azour said the Arab world faces four main economic challenges in 2018; these are the needs to adapt to the post-oil era, carry out economic restructuring, mitigate the impacts of geopolitical conflicts, and combat corruption and wasteful practices.

The current session of the Arab strategic forum debates the latest economic and political developments in the Arab region as well as the region’s economic outlook for 2018.

Source: Kuwait News Agency