World Governments Summit provides ‘exceptional opportunity’ to address today’s challenges: Experts

World Governments Summit provides ‘exceptional opportunity’ to address today’s challenges: Experts
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is among three leaders announced as guests of honor at this year's World Governments Summit. (Supplied)
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Updated 13 February 2024
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World Governments Summit provides ‘exceptional opportunity’ to address today’s challenges: Experts

World Governments Summit provides ‘exceptional opportunity’ to address today’s challenges: Experts
  • The three-day summit, set to kick off in Dubai on Monday, will bring together 25 world leaders and heads of state
  • Participants will tackle pressing global issues across different fields, including economy, technology, artificial intelligence, sustainability, finance and education

DUBAI: This year’s World Governments Summit will present world leaders and delegates with a unique opportunity to combine efforts and address ongoing challenges amid rising regional tensions, organizers said ahead of the mega-event.

The three-day summit, set to kick off in Dubai on Monday, will bring together 25 world leaders and heads of state, 120 governmental delegations, more than 85 international and regional organizations and institutions, and distinguished thought leaders and experts.

The participants will tackle pressing issues facing humanity across different fields, including economy, technology, artificial intelligence, sustainability, finance and education.

Mohamed Yousef Al-Sharhan, deputy managing director of the WGS Organization, told Arab News that the 2024 summit offers an “exceptional global opportunity” to develop inventive solutions for the “challenges and changes facing the world, including recent conflicts experienced across regional and global arenas.”

He said since its inception, the WGS has served as the most significant global platform for world leaders, policymakers, experts, and officials from government and private sectors to exchange expertise and knowledge, as well as discuss pressing global challenges.




Mohamed Al-Sharhan, deputy managing director of the WGS Organization, said the summit aims to bring leaders together to address challenges. (Supplied)

This year’s event comes amid escalating geopolitical tensions in the Middle East since Israel’s war on Gaza broke out, killing more than 27,000 Palestinians — mostly women and children — and bringing a new set of health, educational and developmental challenges.

In a statement to Arab News, Nasser Saidi, former chief economist and strategist at the Dubai International Financial Centre, and former minister and first vice governor of the Central Bank of Lebanon, named three major challenges facing governments as they meet at the WGS: the growing visible consequences and risks of climate change, the accelerated growth of the digital economy due to the implications of using AI and related technologies, and the “New Cold War” resulting from growing fragmentation and deglobalization as the US, the EU and their allies decouple from China amid geopolitical conflicts and turmoil.

“Each of these challenges is greater for developing and poor countries,” said Saidi.

A growing multipolar world is evident in governments’ policies that are leading to increased economic and financial fragmentation.

The number of global trade restrictions introduced each year has nearly tripled since the pre-pandemic period, reaching almost 3,000 last year, according to the International Monetary Fund.

This “New Cold War,” Saidi said, could result in a 7 percent loss of global gross domestic product according to the IMF, due to global supply chains becoming less efficient, and inward-looking, self-sufficiency policies being disguised as restrictions on access to tech and critical resources.

“It will be strategically important for the governments meeting at the WGS to rapidly mitigate the risks of a New Cold War and its potential consequences, including growing strategic and military confrontations,” he added.

The growing climate divide and rapid growth of AI will also affect economies, societies, politics and militaries, and lead to greater degrees of inequality within countries.

“AI magnifies the risks of under-investment in the digital economy, and the growing digital divide between advanced economies and developing countries unable to invest in digital technologies and educate their populations for the digital economy,” said Saidi.

The investments required for climate adaptation to make infrastructure services resilient will also be costly for developing countries, requiring governments to partner with the private sector, which will have to provide 80 percent or more of the financing.

“Along with the growing use of robotics, AI will have profound implications for how governments are organized, and how they will deliver goods and services in general, let alone re-educating and retraining their workforce,” said Saidi.




The World Governments Summit is set to welcome more than 4,000 attendees this year. (Supplied)

Held under the theme “Shaping Future Governments,” the summit will host over 200 prominent speakers — including presidents, prime ministers and experts — who will share their insights in keynote speeches and panel discussions, alongside 23 ministerial meetings and executive sessions welcoming over 300 ministers.

The mega-event covers six main themes through 15 global forums and over 110 interactive dialogues and sessions. It is set to welcome more than 4,000 attendees.

Guests of honor

Headlining this year’s event, taking place until Feb. 14, are leaders from Qatar, Turkiye and India as the guests of honor.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Qatar’s Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani will be among 25 world leaders and heads of state attending the summit.

Al-Shahran said the choice of Turkiye, India and Qatar as this year’s guests of honor is aimed at highlighting exceptional examples of advancement and progress across diverse domains including economy, technology and education.

The summit, he said, will provide these nations with a platform to share their insights and best practices with the global community.

“The WGS seeks to illuminate exemplary success stories that serve as global benchmarks, with Qatar, Turkiye and India emerging as standout examples of economic transformation in recent times,” he added.

“Their remarkable progress not only underscores their individual achievements, but also highlights the broader potential for growth and development across various regions.”

The three nations’ participation, Al-Shahran said, solidifies the summit’s status as the foremost global initiative dedicated to examining exemplary practices and facilitating knowledge exchange.

“Our aim is to achieve the main objectives of the World Governments Summit, foremost among which is to promote collaboration and learning on a global scale, as well as fostering a more interconnected and prosperous future for all,” he added.

Arab ministers

The WGS 2024 will witness the participation of more than 100 ministers from Arab countries, including speakers such as the prime ministers of Egypt, Libya, Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan.

Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit and Gulf Cooperation Council Secretary-General Jasem Mohamed Albudaiwi will also be among the attendees.

Representatives of international organizations such as the UN, the World Bank, the IMF and the World Health Organization, alongside technology leaders from the private sector, will address current and future global challenges and forge solutions for a more developed, prosperous and secure future across various sectors.

Ajay Banga, president of the World Bank Group, Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the IMF, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of WHO, and Rafael Mariano Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, are among the main attendees.

The ministerial meetings taking place on the summit’s sidelines will include those for Arab finance ministers; energy ministers; justice ministers; government development ministers during the Arab Government Administration Forum; and Arab youth and sports ministers.

The summit will also see leaders from the private sector, including OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury, Schmidt Futures co-founder and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, and Yann LeCun, vice president and chief AI scientist at Meta.

African leaders will also receive a platform at the WGS, with a main session for Rwanda’s president, and a plenary discussion bringing together the presidents of Madagascar, the Maldives, Mauritius and the Seychelles.

A dialogue will take place between Nobel Laureates Michael Levitt and Sir Richard J. Robert, who are among eight Nobel Prize winners to attend the summit.


Houthi leader says UK’s Sunak has chance to recover Rubymar by letting aid into Gaza

This satellite image taken by Maxar Technologies shows the Belize-flagged ship Rubymar in the Red Sea on Friday, March 1, 2024.
This satellite image taken by Maxar Technologies shows the Belize-flagged ship Rubymar in the Red Sea on Friday, March 1, 2024.
Updated 7 sec ago
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Houthi leader says UK’s Sunak has chance to recover Rubymar by letting aid into Gaza

This satellite image taken by Maxar Technologies shows the Belize-flagged ship Rubymar in the Red Sea on Friday, March 1, 2024.
  • The Houthis insist their attacks will continue until Israel stops its combat operations in the Gaza Strip, which have enraged the wider Arab world and seen the Houthis gain international recognition

CAIRO: A senior Houthi leader said on Saturday he held British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his government responsible for the sinking of the UK-owned Rubymar.
Mohammed Ali Al-Houthi, head of Yemen’s Houthi supreme revolutionary committee, also said on X: “Sunak has a chance to recover the Rubymar by allowing aid trucks into Gaza.”
Yemen’s internationally recognized government said earlier on Saturday that the Rubymar, which was attacked by Houthi militants last month, had sunk in the Red Sea and warned of an “environmental catastrophe” from the ship’s cargo of fertilizer.

 


Tunisian authorities investigate a fire at a synagogue, question a suspect in custody

Tunisian forces secure an area near the Ghriba synagogue following a shootout on the resort island of Djerba on May 10, 2023.
Tunisian forces secure an area near the Ghriba synagogue following a shootout on the resort island of Djerba on May 10, 2023.
Updated 11 min 8 sec ago
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Tunisian authorities investigate a fire at a synagogue, question a suspect in custody

Tunisian forces secure an area near the Ghriba synagogue following a shootout on the resort island of Djerba on May 10, 2023.
  • In May, five people were killed in a shooting attack on the historic Ghriba synagogue on Tunisia’s island of Djerba

TUNIS, Tunisia: A man believed to have started a fire in a garden at a synagogue in the east of Tunisia is in custody and under investigation for targeting a Jewish house of worship, officials said Saturday.
Hichem ben Ayad, the public prosecutor in the eastern port city of Sfax, told The Associated Press that a garden in the courtyard of the city’s synagogue was set on fire last Sunday. An investigation was opened and a suspect was arrested, he said.
The suspect is a public official his late 40s, ben Ayad said. He is being questioned to establish if the fire — which the prosecutor said was “a criminal act” — was premediated and deliberately targeted the Jewish house of worship.
There were no casualties in the fire that was extinguished the same day, ben Ayad said. He added that the blaze did not cause significant damage to the building. The synagogue appeared to be empty at the time, he said.
In May, five people were killed in a shooting attack on the historic Ghriba synagogue on Tunisia’s island of Djerba. Authorities said a Tunisian national guardsman was behind the attack.
The assailant intentionally targeted the ancient synagogue on the Mediterranean island in a premeditated act, Tunisian officials said.

 


Kuwait calls on voters to elect members of the national assembly on April 4

Kuwait calls on voters to elect members of the national assembly on April 4
Updated 03 March 2024
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Kuwait calls on voters to elect members of the national assembly on April 4

Kuwait calls on voters to elect members of the national assembly on April 4
  • Last month, Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Meshal Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah issued a decree to dissolve parliament

KUWAIT CITY: Kuwait called on Saturday for voters to elect members of the national assembly on April 4, Kuwait News Agency said.

On Wednesday, government spokesman Amer Al-Ajmi said the Kuwaiti Cabinet had approved a draft emiri decree inviting voters to elect the National Assembly and added that registration of candidates would begin on March 4.

Last month, Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Meshal Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah issued a decree to dissolve the parliament.

The decree was based on the national assembly’s “violation of the constitutional principles,” KUNA added.

The assembly was elected in June 2023 following a proposal by the prime minister that was approved by the cabinet.


Thousands protest Tunisia economic woes

Thousands protest Tunisia economic woes
Updated 02 March 2024
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Thousands protest Tunisia economic woes

Thousands protest Tunisia economic woes
  • Protesters denounce the implementation of "diktats" from the IMF at the expense of ordinary Tunisians
  • Tunisia's economy is at a standstill with growth of 0.4 percent and an unemployment rate of 16.4 percent in 2023

TUNIS: Thousands protested deteriorating living standards outside the prime minister’s office in Tunis on Saturday following a call from Tunisia’s main trade union confederation.

“The economic and social situation continues to worsen,” the confederation’s head, Noureddine Taboubi, said in a speech to protesters.
Taboubi said the state’s ability to service its foreign debt in 2023 had been “to the detriment of the people and resulted in shortages of basic products.”
He criticized the implementation of “diktats from the International Monetary Fund” (IMF) at the expense of ordinary Tunisians.
The Tunisian economy is at a standstill with growth of 0.4 percent and an unemployment rate of 16.4 percent in 2023, according to the National Institute of Statistics.
Unemployment stood at 15.2 percent at the end of 2022.
President Kais Saied has ruled by decree since a July 2021 power grab and last year rammed through a constitution that gave his office unlimited powers and neutered parliament.
Weathering a grave economic crisis, Tunis concluded an agreement with the IMF in October 2022 for a $2 billion loan facility.
But loan tranches stalled when the president rejected reforms demanded by the IMF.
 


Investigation into death of El-Arish University student reopened

Members of the Egyptian police special forces stand guard in Cairo. (AFP file photo)
Members of the Egyptian police special forces stand guard in Cairo. (AFP file photo)
Updated 02 March 2024
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Investigation into death of El-Arish University student reopened

Members of the Egyptian police special forces stand guard in Cairo. (AFP file photo)
  • El-Zoghbi’s father Salah said: “I do not know the details of what Naira faced, but we approached the prosecution after finding threatening messages from some of her peers on her phone

CAIRO: The Egyptian Public Prosecutor decided on Saturday to reopen the investigation into the death of Naira Salah El-Zoghbi, a 21-year-old veterinary medicine student at El-Arish University in North Sinai whose death 10 days ago was originally recorded as a suicide.

Allegations of blackmail and bullying linked to El-Zoghbi’s death have been circulated widely on social media.

Ahmed Salama, the lawyer representing El-Zoghbi’s family, told Arab News: “The prosecution ordered the exhumation of the victim’s body to determine the cause of death. Her grave in the village of Meet Tarif, her hometown in the Dakahlia governorate, was opened under security surveillance to take necessary samples.”

Salama added: “Investigations are underway to uncover the circumstances of the girl’s death, awaiting the forensic report that will be issued and announced in due time.

“There might be a criminal angle because we learned that a cat which drank from the same cup as Naira died instantly.”

El-Zoghbi’s father Salah said: “I do not know the details of what Naira faced, but we approached the prosecution after finding threatening messages from some of her peers on her phone.

“I was unaware of what exactly happened to my daughter, but I was surprised by a call from the university requesting my presence. Upon arrival, I learned of Naira’s death without knowing the cause. After going to the hospital, it turned out my daughter died from acute poisoning, and her body was released for burial last Sunday.”

He added: “I was surprised by (claims) on social media that several of her peers had blackmailed her due to disputes and because she was distinguished and excelled academically. However, I did not know the nature of these problems or the blackmail. Naira used to talk to her mother and tell her about some normal issues with her peers, but she didn’t know the real reasons behind these problems.”

Egyptian newspapers quoted El-Zoghbi’s mother as saying that she received a call from her daughter, who was in distress due to severe “cramps and vomiting.”

Her mother advised her to take some painkillers, but, shortly after, the university called to inform the family that El-Zoghbi had been taken to hospital. By the time her family arrived in El-Arish, El-Zoghbi had already been pronounced dead.

One of El-Zoghbi’s fellow students, who asked to remain anonymous and was among those who initiated the “Justice for El-Arish Student” campaign on Facebook, told Arab News: “I joined peers in a campaign to demand justice for Naira, and we found overwhelming support.

“We knew there were disputes between (Naira) and one of her roommates following a verbal altercation in the presence of several students.

“Some students said that her roommate had secretly photographed her in the bathroom to humiliate and bully her due to the altercation that occurred between them.”

Some of El-Zoghbi’s friends claimed her roommate had sent El-Zoghbi threats, demanding an apology and warning that otherwise she would expose her by posting her pictures on social-media platforms.

El-Zoghbi apparently complied and apologized on a private WhatsApp group for the university’s students.

A source from the university administration revealed details of the incident to Arab News, saying: “The student swallowed a pesticide pill while she was on campus and survived for more than 12 hours. Attempts were made to treat her at the hospital, but she eventually passed away.”