Dubai’s Arab Strategy Forum weighs ‘big issues that face our world’

Mohammad Al-Gergawi, above, President of the Arab Strategy Forum, delivers his opening speech on Monday, December 9, 2019. (AN)
Updated 09 December 2019

Dubai’s Arab Strategy Forum weighs ‘big issues that face our world’

  • Prominent political and economic figures share their forecasts for the region and the world at annual event
  • Panel discussions and speeches will explore events and trends anticipated to unfold over the next 10 years

DUBAI: Dubai hosts the 12th edition of the Arab Strategy Forum (ASF) on Monday with “Forecasting the Next Decade” as its theme. 

Panel discussions and speeches at the one-day event will explore and forecast the events and trends anticipated to unfold over the next 10 years, and their impact on politics, socio-economic frameworks, international relationships and diplomacy. 

In addition, ASF will issue three reports that attempt to predict the social conditions of the next decade. 

Held under the patronage of Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, at the Ritz Carlton DIFC, this year’s edition will draw the participation of 18 keynote speakers, including former ministers, government officials, industry experts, international strategists, writers and media professionals. 

Omar Saif Ghobash, assistant minister for cultural affairs at the UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and British writer Ed Hussein, will take part in a panel discussion moderated by Faisal J. Abbas, editor-in-chief of Arab News, on the findings of a pan-Arab study titled “Mosque and state: How Arabs see the future.” 

The research, whose findings will be unveiled at the ASF, was commissioned by Arab News and conducted by YouGov using online interviews of 3,079 Arabic speakers aged 18 years or above, and residing across 18 countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

The findings suggest Arabs harbor deep dissatisfaction at religion being misused by politicians. It also portends the decline of religion-based political parties and extremist organizations in 10 years' time. 

The study sought the views and concerns of Arabs on the top problems for their countries, the MENA region’s main conflict drivers, women’s empowerment and the intersection of religion and politics in their lives.

“The findings of this study, which are perhaps backed with the reality unfolding on the ground in Lebanon and Iraq today, is that Arabs will no longer forgive political exploitation and corruption, and religious parties are no longer an exception,” Faisal J. Abbas said.

“When you dive into the findings of this poll, perhaps the events unfolding should come as no surprise. Yes, the Arab world is predicted to remain religious, but people overwhelmingly want religion to be a private matter and source for spiritual guidance, not political decision making.”

A separate ASF discussion will debate whether the world is heading into the next decade by starting with a global economic recession and what can be done to mitigate its effect. 

“The forum presents today’s challenges and opportunities to the world’s leading decision-makers who can address them in a precise, balanced and politically scientific manner, so we can best learn how to anticipate, manage and maintain socio-political equilibrium in the region and beyond,” said Saeed Al-Etr, assistant secretary-general of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Global Initiatives Foundation. 

“Hosting this tolerant, open-minded, future-forward approach to tackling the big issues that face our world, is paramount to our aims to bring greater harmony and unity to the world, and a testament to the UAE’s continuous efforts to spread a culture of tolerance and coexistence by forecasting and preparing for the future.”


Israeli PM: Palestinians in Jordan Valley won’t be citizens

Updated 28 May 2020

Israeli PM: Palestinians in Jordan Valley won’t be citizens

  • Netanyahu has vowed to press ahead with plans to annex the Jordan Valley

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that Palestinians living in the Jordan Valley will remain in what he described as an “enclave” after Israel annexes the territory and will not be granted Israeli citizenship.
Netanyahu has vowed to press ahead with plans to annex the Jordan Valley and Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, in line with President Donald Trump’s Middle East plan, a process that could begin as early as July 1.
The annexation of the Jordan Valley and the far-flung settlements would make it virtually impossible to create a viable Palestinian state alongside Israel, which is still widely seen as the only way to resolve the decades-old conflict.
In an interview with the Israel Hayom newspaper, Netanyahu said Palestinians in the Jordan Valley, including residents of the city of Jericho, would remain under limited Palestinian self-rule, with Israel having overall security control.
“They will remain a Palestinian enclave,” he said. “You’re not annexing Jericho. There’s a cluster or two. You don’t need to apply sovereignty over them. They will remain Palestinian subjects, if you will. But security control also applies to these places.”
Palestinians in the West Bank have lived under Israeli military rule since the 1967 war, when Israel captured the territory, along with east Jerusalem and Gaza. The Palestinians want all three territories to form their future state.
The Trump plan would grant the Palestinians limited statehood over scattered enclaves surrounded by Israel if they meet a long list of conditions. Israel has embraced the plan, while the Palestinian Authority, which administers parts of the West Bank, has angrily rejected it and cut ties with the US and Israel.
Netanyahu said that if the Palestinians accept all the conditions in the plan, including Israel maintaining overall security control, “then they will have an entity of their own that President Trump defines as a state.”
Under a coalition agreement reached last month, Netanyahu can bring his annexation plans before the government as early as July 1.
The Palestinian Authority has said it is no longer bound by any agreements signed with Israel and the US, and says it has cut off security coordination with Israel. Neighboring Jordan, a close Western ally and one of only two Arab states to have made peace with Israel, has warned of a “massive conflict” if Israel proceeds with annexation.