Qatar Leadership Centre (QLC) organized the State of the Region Forum on Sunday, December 6, 2015 at the Museum of Islamic Art.
The Forum was a two-day event providing participants in QLC’s Executive, Rising and Government Leaders programs as well as alumni with insight into key issues affecting the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
The annual Forum is an important platform for exchanging ideas and experiences through dynamic discussion sessions with experts that address the important topics, including regional economic changes, global challenges in the oil and energy markets, developments in the world of technology and communications, and the opportunities and obstacles affecting entrepreneurship.
On the first day, local and regional speakers addressed the future of education, along with its most prominent trends, while exploring the importance of promoting Information and Communications Technology (ICT), and social media entrepreneurship, in addition to a range of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) energy scenarios.
Delivering the keynote speech, which revolved around contemporary political conditions across the MENA region, His Excellency Dr. Marwan Muasher, Vice President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and prior Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Jordan focused on the role of an integrated educational system that promotes creative and critical thinking, strengthening the abilities of students in mathematics, science and technology, in particular.
Following the keynote speech, a panel discussion on ICT and Social Media Entrepreneurship in Qatar took place, moderated by Mr. Nabil Al Yousuf, Executive Partner at Al Jal Capital Group, and attended by Mr. Ashraf Zeitoon, Head of Middle East Politics at Facebook, and Dr. Yasar Jarrar, Partner at the International Consulting Group. Mr. Ashraf opened the session with a set of statistics related to how Arabs are coping with the evolution of IT and the implications of these numbers: “Today, we are witnessing an unprecedented situation, called the Digital Arab Generation, which is changing the region more than any other factor. There are approximately 200 million young men and woman connected to the Internet, accounting for 70% of the Arab world’s population, and 114 million users from the Arab world on Facebook. Qatar boosts the world’s highest Internet penetration rate, benefiting entrepreneurship, which – coupled with social networking sites in small businesses – has been increasing rapidly.”
Building on Mr. Ashraf’s speech, Dr. Yasar Jarrar explored the importance and role of government institutions in promoting entrepreneurship: “We must be realistic in addressing this issue, and we must realize that development begins within government institutions.” He also stressed the importance of government institutions in creating opportunities, and building an environment that promotes entrepreneurship and real investment for long-term success.
Inspired by his experience in the energy sector, Mr. Abdulaziz Al Meer, Deputy CEO of at Tasweeq, gave a comprehensive presentation on GCC energy scenarios, outlining key factors influencing the decline in oil prices: “Many countries were affected by lower revenues from oil and its derivatives, leading them to look for ways to diversify their income sources in the future. The State of the Region Forum gathers Qatari professionals from across sectors to address this as well as other crucial issues in order to achieve our goals.”
Youth was also a prominent topic at this year’s Forum, with sessions dedicated to changes in the perspective of GCC youth, and their influential role in the social media age. The Forum saw outstanding participation and dynamic discussions between participants and experts in various subjects. Commenting on his participation in the Forum, Abdulla Al-Hajri from the Amiri Diwan, who is a participant in the Government Leaders program, talked about the importance of the Forum in providing an overview of the present and future of the region. He also praised the role of the Centre in creating opportunities for dialogue and interchange stakeholders in various fields throughout the private and public sectors.
“Qatar Leadership Centre makes significant contributions to enhancing our leadership and innovation capabilities, and transforming our ideas and visions into reality. QLC Also helps us through forums and panel discussions to understand the developments in the region, thereby enhancing our ability to keep up with these changes,” said Aisha Abdulrahman Al Thani from Qatar University and a participant in the Government Leaders program.
Government Leader Participant Amal Al Subaey, from the General Retirement and Social Insurance Authority, also sees her participation at QLC as an opportunity to develop her personal and professional competencies. “QLC helped me to change my view on various issues that were obstacles at my work. This Forum connects all participants in QLC’s three leadership programs, allowing for the exchange of ideas and expertise alike.”
On the second day, which unfolded at the Four Seasons Hotel Doha, the Forum further addressed the role of youth in the age of social media, dedicated to youth priorities and trends shaping the future, which was led by Mr. Ashraf Zeitoon, Head of Middle East Politics at Facebook. This annual Forum is part of the diverse academic programs and activities provided by Qatar Leadership Centre for the participants in its national leadership programs.