Davos 2019 Day 3: Middle East high on agenda as global leaders address WEF

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Around 3,000 political and business leaders are attending the Davos forum. (Reuters)
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Updated 25 January 2019

Davos 2019 Day 3: Middle East high on agenda as global leaders address WEF

  • The third day of panels is taking place in Switzerland
  • Future of Saudi Arabia on the agenda

DAVOS: The third day of panels and addresses is taking place in Davos, Switzerland on Thursday. Follow Arab News' live coverage below...

17.05 —  Jacek Czaputowicz also said that the JCPOA has had a positive impact and the US decided to withdraw from it. He added that the Iran issue would be discussed in Warsaw at the upcoming meeting in February. 

16.55 — ​  Poland fears Russian aggressive policy, and it wants more US deployment said Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs Jacek Czaputowicz. 

16.49 — ​“NATO is the strongest military alliance in the world and is an alliance of values,” the German Federal Minister of Defence Ursula von der Leyen said. 

16.45 — Europe and the US are of common values, and the transatlantic alliance is repairable said former US Secretary of State John Kerry.

16.40 — “Our message to the US is that NATO is improving, and European allies are stepping up,” said the Secretary-General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg. 


16.30 — Speakers discuss whether the transatlantic rift set to widen.

15.12 — “We have a consumer driven economy and consumers don’t have money in their pockets,” the Secretary-Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) Elizabeth H. Shuler said.

15.10  — Rubenstein said that US President Donald Trump communicates in ways that are different to the way presidents have communicated in the past, and that tweeting is a “very effective way to get your message out.” He added that Trump will get blamed more than he will like if the shutdown doesn't end soon. 

15.05  — The US has not had a Shutdown for this long. If the situation is not resolved soon, “this will really impair the economy of the US,” Co-Founder and Co-Executive Chairman of the Carlyle Group David M. Rubenstein said.


15.00 — The future of America’s place in the world economic system is discussed.

14.56 —  On his relationship with US President Donald Trump, Ghani said that Trump is engaging and that their relationship is excellent. 

14.45 — Afghanistan wants engagement with Pakistan and Afghanistan wants a removal of the shadow of violence, Ghani commented. 

14.40 — The long term course for the country should be democratic, said Ghani. Afghanistan is most suited to democratic governments, and “our culture is one of equality,” he added. 

14.35 — ​Afghanistan is turning a corner and Afghan women now have a voice of their own, the President of Afghanistan Mohammad Ashraf Ghani said.

14.30 — ​The President of Afghanistan Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has a conversation with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria.


14.28 — Speaking earlier in a special address, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, appealed for dialogue to stop Venezuela's political crisis spiralling out of control. He also warned that the world is "losing the race" against climate change and that the relationship between the three most important global powers, Russia, the US and China, "has never been as dysfunctional as it is today."

13.20 —  We hope that the chief executive of Dubai-based Majid Al Futtaim (MAF) Alain Bejjani packed his snow shoes (read Frank Kane’s interview with him here)

12.53 — We want to build a story of hope in the Arab world and we want to be a role model, said the Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning Mohammad Al-Tuwaijri. 

12.52 — Saudi Arabia's oil business is the best in the world and the Kingdom is fully committed to the Paris Agreement, Al-Tuwaijri said.  

12.49 — Talking about Saudi Arabia’s relationship with India, Al-Tuwaijri said that what will prevail is “credibility and sustainabilty”, and that the Kingdom has a great relationship with India.

12.45 — ​Saudi Arabia celebrated two Japanese banks opening in the Kingdom, the Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning Mohammad Al-Tuwaijri said. 

12.40 — ​Arab countries have been a reliable source of oil supply despite the conflicts in the region, the Chairman of the Indian Oil Corporation Ltd Sanjiv Singh said. 

12.35 — Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi are partnering with India in a huge oil refinery project, the Chairman of Indian Oil Corporation Ltd Sanjiv Singh said. 

12.26 — The Middle East as a power house can look at investment opportunities in Asia, the Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning Mohammad Al-Tuwaijri said. He added that the Kingdom has identified 50 opportunities in South Korea. 

12.10 — Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi are partnering with India in a huge oil refinery project, the Chairman of the Indian Oil Corporation Ltd Sanjiv Singh said at the forum.

12.00 — This session will discuss relationships between the Middle East and Asia. Speakers include the Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning Mohammad Al-Tuwaijri, the Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs and Minister of Finance Fuad Hussein, the Group Chairman and CEO of DP World Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, and the Chairman of Indian Oil Corporation Ltd Sanjiv Singh.



10.45 — Ghannouchi told the forum that Arabs need more freedom as they “don't have enough of it.” He added that opportunities need to be created for the youth, and called upon bussiness leaders to invest in Arab countries.  

10.15  — The leader of the Tunisian Ennahda Party Rached Ghannouchi said that he thinks that there are universal standards for democracy and freedom. He added that the Arab world has reached a boiling point, and “needs reform.”

10.00  — Jordan's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Ayman Al-Safadi told the forum that Arab countries are looking at an “Arab role that will bring the Syrian crisis to an end.” He added that they needed to play a major role in making Syria immune to conflicting international agendas. 

9:45 — The Middle East security outlook is being discussed — check out the live video below. Speakers include Ayman Al-Safadi, Jordan’s minister of foreign affairs and expatriates; Mohamed Ali Alhakim, Iraq’s minister of foreign affairs; Rached Ghannouchi, leader of Tunisia’s Ennahda Party; and Majid Jafar, CEO of Crescent Petroleum.


8:15 — Saudi Arabia’s ambitious reform plans were discussed in an early Davos panel, with speakers including Minister of Finance Mohammed Al-Jadaan, Minister of Economy and Planning Mohammad Al-Tuwaijri, and Saudi Stock Exchange Chairperson Sarah Al-Suhaimi.





8:00 — Good morning from a chilly Davos. The Middle East is a key theme at the forum today, with an early morning discussion on the future of Saudi Arabia, the region's security outlook set to come under the microscope, and a discussion with Omar Al Razzaz, Prime Minister of Jordan. Keep up to date with our live blog.

India’s Modi set to return to power with a bigger majority, exit polls show

An Indian election officer (R) marks the finger of a voter at a polling centre on the outskirts of Amritsar on May 19, 2019, during the 7th and final phase of India's general election. (AFP)
Updated 22 min 36 sec ago

India’s Modi set to return to power with a bigger majority, exit polls show

  • Modi visited West Bengal 17 times in an effort to make inroads with his Hindu nationalist agenda, provoking sporadic violence and prompting the Election Commission to cut off campaigning there
  • Indian television channels have had a mixed record in the past in predicting election results

NEW DELHI: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to return to power with an even bigger majority in parliament after a mammoth general election that ended on Sunday, exit polls showed, a far better showing than expected in recent weeks.
Modi faced criticism early on in the campaign for failing to create jobs and for weak farm prices, and analysts as well as politicians said the election race was tightening with the main opposition Congress party gaining ground.
But he rallied his Hindu nationalist base and turned the campaign into a fight for national security after tensions rose with Pakistan and attacked his main rival for being soft on the country’s arch foe.
Modi’s National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is projected to win anything between 339-365 seats in the 545-member lower house of parliament with the Congress party-led opposition alliance at a distant 77 to 108, India Today Axis exit poll showed.
To rule, a party needs to win 272 seats. Modi’s alliance won 336 seats in the 2014 election. The exit polls showed that he not only held to this base in the northern Hindi belt but also breached the east where regional groups traditionally held sway.
Only the south largely resisted the Hindu nationalist surge, except for Karnataka, home to software capital Bengaluru.
Counting of votes recorded in hundreds of thousands of computerised machines will begin early on Thursday and results are expected by noon.
According to another poll released by Todays Chanakya, Modi’s alliance is likely to get around 350 seats. One poll by Neta Newsx, though, forecast Modi’s group falling 30 seats short.
Exit polls, though, have a mixed record in a country with an electorate of 900 million people — around two-thirds of whom voted in the seven-phase election. They have often gotten the number of seats wrong, but the broad direction has generally been correct, analysts say.
With three out of four of the polls indicating a clear majority for Modi’s alliance, Indian equity markets are expected to rally sharply on Monday, while the Indian rupee is also likely to strengthen versus the US dollar, according to market participants.
A clear win would mean Modi can carry out reforms investors expect to make India an easier place for doing business, they said.
“I expect a positive reaction from markets on both the rupee and equities,” said Sajal Gupta, head of forex and rates at Indian brokerage firm Edelweiss Securities.
“Equity indices should have a rally of maybe 250-300 points,” said Gupta, adding the Indian rupee may test the 69 level against the US dollar before retreating.

But a big win for Modi would fan fears that Hindu hard-liner groups would be further emboldened to pursue partisan programs such as punishing Muslims for the slaughter of cows, considered sacred by Hindus, rewriting school textbooks to reduce India’s Muslim history and attack liberals.
Critics say Modi sought to win votes by stoking fear among the Hindu majority of the potential dangers posed by the country’s Muslims and Pakistan, and promoted a Hindu-first India.
But his supporters say Modi and his allies are simply restoring Hinduism to its rightful place at the core of Indian society. Muslims make up about 14% of India’s 1.3 billion population.
“The massive crowds and response at every rally of Prime Minister Modi were a clear indicator of their approval for his leadership, the performance of the past five years and the vision for the future,” Nalin Kohli, a spokesman of the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party said.
Dilip Agrawal, 46, who runs a mill in the central state of Madhya Pradesh, said he had voted for Modi, despite the difficulties faced by farmers.
“He is doing so much for our country, our national security. Of course farmers want better rates than they are getting, that’s only natural. Only a strong leader can meet our aspirations, and Modi is that leader.”

The Congress pary led by Rahul Gandhi, the fourth generation scion of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty that ruled India for decades following independence, focused on Modi’s failure to deliver on the promises he made to transform the economy and turn India into a manufacturing hub.
Congress spokesman Sanjay Jha dismissed the poll projections, saying that an alliance led by his party would defeat the BJP when votes are counted on May 23.
“Many of the pollsters, if not all of the pollsters, have got it wrong,” he said, adding that a polarized atmosphere and fear had kept voters from telling pollsters about their actual allegiance.
Mamata Banerjee, the chief minister of West Bengal state and a bitter opponent of Modi, said the fight was not over.
“I don’t trust exit poll gossip,” she said on Twitter. “I appeal to all opposition parties to be united, strong and bold. We will fight this battle together.”
Voting began on April 11 and ended on Sunday in the world’s biggest democratic exercise.
Although Modi’s party is poised to lose seats in northern Uttar Pradesh, which elects the most lawmakers out of all Indian states, the party’s return to power will be on the back of a strong showing in other northern heartland regions and two eastern provinces, CVoter’s polling showed.