The Arab Economic Summit in Riyadh has given the impression that Saudi Arabia is the driving force behind economic and political progress in the Arab world. A Western diplomat, who was present at the conference's opening session, rightly pointed out that without Saudi Arabia Arab joint work would be a failure.
Those attended the summit should have felt a new spirit of Arab joint action. The conference hall was filled with new faces reflecting a new Arab world that came into being following the Arab Spring revolutions.
(There are differences of opinion whether it should be called spring or autumn). However, it is a new reality that is different from the past.
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah in his opening address, which was delivered by Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, called for increasing the capitals of Arab funds and joint companies by not less than 50 percent to expand their activities.
He also called for strengthening public-private sector partnership. He promised that Saudi Arabia would pay its part in the increase in capital funds.
King Abdullah's initiatives stole the summit's limelight as Arab officials and media persons welcomed the news with great significance because it would enable Arab organizations to work with greater efficiency. The increase in capital funds is expected to cross $10 billion. The new summit resolutions will also encourage inter-Arab trade and investment.
Some people say that many summit decisions would be a prisoner of bureaucracy. But in his keynote speech, the king said the new phase demands a different approach considering the requirements of modern age.
Prince Saud Al-Faisal was frank in his assessment of Arab situation that the Arab crisis that brought changes in systems was development centered.
The changes had taken political forms but their root cause was development. This indicates that Arab leaders cannot ignore the hopes and aspirations of their people for a better present and a brighter future. Many people believe that the problem of Arab countries is not that of resolutions but of commitment.
Prince Saud Al-Faisal rightly diagnosed it when he said that serious efforts should be made to overcome obstacles. The presence of Saudi officials in large numbers showed that the Kingdom is fully committed to making the summit a resounding success.
Outside the King Abdul Aziz Conference Center there were many politicians and media persons who were invited to attend the summit's opening and closing sessions.
Lebanese media persons had surrounded Culture and Information Minister Dr. Abdul Aziz Khoja, former ambassador to Beirut, and their talks centered on the future of Lebanon. Present Saudi Ambassador Awad Assiri, a veteran diplomat, also joined the discussions.
On the other side, businessmen and economists were seen around Petroleum and Mineral Resources Minister Ali Al-Naimi, one of the great oil experts in the world. Such conferences give an opportunity to meet with officials and experts, exchange ideas and build up new relations.
Despite the suffering of Riyadh people because of the closure of some roads, the summit went well ensuring smooth movement of foreign delegations. It showed Saudi Arabia is capable of holding such big conferences.
Economics is the world's new language and the Arab world is aware of its importance.
The holding of economic summits is a good idea and will definitely serve future Arab generations. It was essential to shorten words when talking economics but when people talk politics it becomes longer as the Egyptian president's speech took 38 minutes. An Egyptian journalist said the language of modern age has changed and people should reduce words and tell things directly.
We are in a new Arab world where economics and development are the bywords. Arab leaders are advised to follow the new language and prepare for the future. Time is running out as new generations demand more.