Qatar Economic Forum (QEF) has established itself over recent years as one of the most prominent and influential business forums in the region, and the most serious in enriching dialogue on strategic issues that top the priorities of the global economy, as a way to diagnose its current situation and anticipate its future trends.
Through its focus on global challenges that affect societies and economies around the world, and covering the pillars of the international economy, whether in terms of trade and its connection to energy, investment, modern technology, or the general mood of consumers, as well as geopolitical turmoil and its complicated effects, the forum has emerged as one of the most important events in terms of strengthening international partnerships. Last year, the Forum witnessed the signing of eight memorandums of understanding MOUs to build new alliances, which confirms the position of the State of Qatar as a central hub for talks and investment, and its great role in the international business sector.
Qatar Economic Forum (QEF - 2024), which brings together more than 1,000 world leaders, intellectual figures, and influential decision-makers from about 50 countries, will be held during a situation in which the Middle East region is facing the economic consequences of the war in the Gaza Strip and the disruption of navigation in the Red Sea, along with other fears in the world regarding the expansion of a conflict that has entered its third year between Russia and Ukraine and the subsequent cut off of Russian gas from Europe.
These geopolitical developments do not seem to be the only thing preoccupying the world, as the post-pandemic challenges also strike it to the core. Indeed, inflation has reached high levels, climate change threatens catastrophes, rapid transformations in economic relations, in addition to changes in the fields of technology, energy, and trade; these together are transformations that would have far-reaching repercussions on the global economy, which makes the theme of the current edition of the Forum, "A World Remade: Navigating the Year of Uncertainty", accurately reflect the current global conditions.
In this international circumstance full of challenges, and where there is a growing need for constructive dialogues that shed light on the pressing issues sweeping the economic field in particular, and where decision-makers from all over the world aspire to shape a more sustainable and dynamic economic future, the importance of the 4th edition of QEF which is organized by Media City Qatar and powered by Bloomberg, taking place on May 14, is not only for Qatar and the countries of the region, but for the entire world.
Based on this, the topics of this session of the QEF were carefully designed to examine and investigate pressing issues such as "geopolitics, globalization, and trade", where the extent of the impact of the development of politics on investment flows, supply chains, and the international economy will be examined. It will also address "business and investment outlook", which will provide insights into market growth and economic trends. During these discussions, and under the topic of "energy transitions", energy sector experts will examine the future of liquefied natural gas and ways to stimulate the transition towards sustainable energy in in-depth analyses.
As for "sports and entertainment", those in charge of this sector will unveil a package of changes that will sweep an industry whose investments are estimated at billions of dollars. In the field of "technology innovation", the latest developments in artificial intelligence (AI), Blockchain technology and others will be explored.
In other side sessions, the Forum discusses topics including new opportunities for economic diversification, stimulating growth in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, opportunities for responsible investment, activating environmental, social and corporate governance practices, ways to transition to a green environment through creating environmentally friendly businesses that combine sustainability and profitability, as well as reshaping global trade in a fragmented world and how to diversify the supply chain.
Commenting on the importance of the agenda discussed at the current edition of the Forum regarding the environmental aspect, Chairman of Gulf Organization for Research and Development (GORD) and Chairman of Global Carbon Council (GCC), Dr. Yousef Mohammed Al Horr, told Qatar News Agency (QNA) that the economic growth of any country should not come at the expense of a livable environment for future generations, calling for this requirement to be part of a comprehensive approach that takes into account the long-term consequences of climate change.
Environmental development, as an integral part of the Qatar National Vision 2030, and one of its four basic pillars, was given priority by the state of Qatar to ensure the promotion of economic growth in harmony with nature. Through the implementation of the Qatar National Strategy for Environment and Climate Change, the country has set a definitive roadmap to achieve a 25% emissions reduction by 2030. Indeed, there is an increasing momentum among organizations and companies across Qatar to adopt low-carbon policies and incorporate best sustainability practices. These initiatives are not only in line with the vision of the Qatari leadership, but are also a tangible contribution to the global endeavor to create a cleaner and more sustainable future for future generations, Dr. Al Horr stressed.
He believes that financing the transition to net-zero emissions could be achieved through various ways, with one specifically practical approach which is the use of carbon offset mechanisms. Thereby, the Global Carbon Council (GCC), affiliated with the Gulf Organization for Research & Development (GORD) - has emerged as a key player in providing climate finance through its voluntary Carbon Offset Programme.
Dr. Al Horr highlighted the role of GORD as one of the leading entities in the field of research, development and innovation in Qatar, which devotes its efforts to translating research-based green innovations into tangible and practical sustainability solutions, pointing in this regard to the Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS) as one of the prominent examples of these innovations, which over the years has become the fastest growing field of green building classification in the Gulf region and is approved in more than 2,000 infrastructure projects and various types of buildings.
Regarding the topic of growth priorities in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and doubling economic diversification, Vice Dean of Business School for Academic and Quality Assurance at Al al-Bayt University in Jordan, Dr. Omar Khlaif Gharaibeh, said in remarks to Qatar News Agency (QNA), that the GCC countries have made great strides in developing local investment capital and startup ecosystems, and have worked to attract foreign direct investments, as they have been able to provide a safe environment for investment and achieve relatively high growth rates in light of regional and global instability.
He believed that to maintain growth rates, the public and private sectors must work to increase cooperation in order to develop modern industries, taking advantage of its important intermediate geopolitical position between East and West, its possession of wealth and financial capabilities, and the presence of raw materials. besides making the most of technology to increase productivity, and working to market this through holding forums, discussing common issues, exercising governance in government policies and decisions related to private business, in addition to simplifying administrative procedures and holding joint workshops that bridge the gap between the two sectors and increase skills, capabilities and exchange of knowledge.
In the field of technology innovation, the worlds entry into the fifth industrial revolution phase will lead to changing the way society interacts with businesses, by increasing the interaction between humans and machines, relying on the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, cybersecurity, and artificial intelligence (AI), Decision support systems (DSS), smart networks, and other modern technologies, which will reduce errors and contribute to improving countries productive capacity, thus achieving sustainable development, environmental stewardship, and utilizing technology ethically to advance human values and needs, Dr. Gharaibeh added.
Dr. Gharaibeh stressed that in light of this technological development, many jobs, especially traditional jobs, will disappear, and other new jobs will arise, which requires countries to develop the educational system, plans and strategies to meet the challenges of the fifth industrial revolution to respond to the new era through empowering teachers and faculty members in all disciplines to adapt to these rapid changes to be qualified and able to carry out the tasks required by the new reality, and qualifying and training the workforce to use this technology to keep pace with the changing knowledge and skills in the labor market to overcome the unknown in a changing world.
For his part, Professor of Economic Development at the University of Kufa and Director of the Al-Rafidain Center for Dialogue (RCD) in Iraq, Dr. Hassan Latif Kazem, told Qatar News Agency (QNA) that with every industrial revolution, production systems change and the economic map of the world is redrawn, as a result of the rise of powers which can keep pace with its developments, and benefit from the opportunities and capabilities it provides to promote sustainable economic growth. He stated that across the four revolutions, the most prominent feature was the massive increases in the productivity of factors of production, overcoming the Malthusian catastrophe (relative to Robert Malthus, who was pessimistic about the abundance of resources versus the increase in population), and of course there will be new jobs to appear and others that to disappear. Just as the first industrial revolution led to the development of the textile industry and gradually eliminated home-based spinning professions, the fifth industrial revolution may redefine remote work, and many jobs that are practiced at home will appear, but it will also lead to the elimination of a variety of jobs, as they will be replaced by robots, smartphones, delivery drones, etc.
Regarding the economic repercussions of the war in the Gaza Strip, Dr. Kazem believes that the tensions in the region are contributing to changing the balance of international power; yet, this is a slow change, even though it is affecting global commodity and energy trade routes based on the vital role played by the Suez Canal and Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, as they are among the most important oil transit points in the world.
Dr. Kazem expected that the long-term increase in transportation costs would lead to reducing the costs of those routes, or searching for new ones, which helps support and develop the transportation infrastructure across them in a way that threatens the status of the Suez Canal and the Red Sea. It is also clear that the increase in transportation leads to an increase in the prices of transported goods, especially food commodities, which consequently threatens food security.