• Al Nahyan: “We must not abuse or ignore our Arab youth”
• Al Faisal: “The GCC has taken the lead on many regional issues and is ready to go forward responsibly”
• Petraeus : “Syria has become a geopolitical Chernobyl, which is spitting chaos and instability in the region”
Abu Dhabi-UAE: 13 October, 2015: “We must not abuse or ignore our Arab youth,” said His Highness Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development in the United Arab Emirates during a keynote speech during Beirut Institute Summit, a highly anticipated gathering of more than 200 sitting and former presidents, prime ministers, ministers, top level CEOs, tier one global officials, dignitaries and senior public policy experts from around the world that commenced in Abu Dhabi today.
Highlighting the role of youth, education and social development in reconfiguring the Arab region and its global space, His Highness said: “Even in the United Arab Emirates, where enlightened and effective education of our youth has been a top priority, we know that we can do even better in educating them for their ever-changing and challenging future.”
“Until all Arab nations educate their girls and boys, their young women and young men, we will be crippled competitors in the global society and the global economy,” added His Highness Sheikh Nahyan.
His Highness concluded: “It is my hope that all of us will recognize and discharge our moral duty to abandon confrontations, wars, and destruction and instead embrace tolerance, compassion, and dialogue. Fulfilling that duty will restore the prominence of the Arab world and allow Arab youth to reach their full potential.”
The keynote speech was followed by a panel discussion that featured His Royal Highness Prince Turki Al Faisal, Member of the Board of Beirut Institute and Co-Chair of Beirut Institute Summit, His Excellency Nohad El Machnouk, Minister of Interior and Municipalities in Lebanon, GEN (Ret.) David H. Petraeus, Member and Chairman of the KKR Global Institute, Baroness Valerie Amos, Director of SOAS, University of London, and Khalid Abdulla Janahi, Chairman of Naseej Co. & Solidarity Group Holding. The session was moderated by Raghida Dergham, Founder and Executive Chairman of Beirut Institute.
Entitled “A Strategic Roadmap to Re-defining the Arab Region's Global Positioning”, the session discussed the place of the Arab countries in the context of emerging global trends and potential re-configurations of the regional balance of powers in a broader international context.
On the subject of changes in the regional balance, His Royal Highness Prince Turki Al Faisal said: “The GCC has taken the lead on many regional issues and is ready to go forward responsibly. The example is Yemen, where there is demand not only in the region, but also from outside to resolve this issue.”
On the subject of the current conflict in Syria, HRH Prince Turki added: “Our problem with the Syria is that we are targeting the symptoms and not the disease. Let us concentrate on dealing with the disease, and that will take care of the symptoms.”
“Some of the Russians who are fighting with Daesh will try to return home and do harm, just as Saudis fighting in Syria are trying to come back and do us harm,” concluded His Royal Highness Prince Turki.
For his part, His Excellency Nohad El Machnouk said: “The Russians have done what the others did not do. Therefore, the Russian role in Syria could contribute to moves towards a political solution. The Russian capability to make a difference in terms of military action is something important. We cannot blame the Russians for the current situation and their action might break the deadlock.”
General David Petraeus said: “Syria has become a geopolitical Chernobyl, which is spitting chaos and instability in the region”
“The Syrian President cannot be part of the solution for the future. The Russian intervention has saved him only for a limited time. If his regime continues to use the barrel bombs on the population, we should ground his air force, and we have the capability to do so,” added General Petraeus.
On the subject of Iraq, the General noted: “The key element in resolution in Iraq and the centre of gravity is in Baghdad. One has to liberate Ramadi and Fallujah, but none of that will be sustainable or achievable if you do not resolve the political challenges in Baghdad in such a way as to ensure to inclusive politics and better governance.”
Finishing on the subject of Iran, General Petraeus added: “The Iran nuclear agreement is about Iranian nuclear programme and it has good and bad parts. Among the good parts: it sets back Iran's ability to enrich uranium and build a nuclear weapon. However, there is a problematic: money the Iran is receiving immediately after unfreezing their assets. Iran is still one of the three countries that are designated as states that are sponsoring terrorism.”
Regarding the Syrian conflict, Baroness Valerie Amos said: “Refugees fleeing to neighbouring countries put huge pressure on countries that are already fragile. It is only later on, after refugees see that there is no hope of resolution of their country's crisis that they move on to seek aid elsewhere. And as a European, I am ashamed of the response that we have seen from our continent.”
“We have been focusing on the political situation in Syria for four years. But we have to focus on other issues and build confidence across communities. As the degree of complexity increases, we tend to focus on one issue at the detriment of others. We should embrace a comprehensive view,” added Baroness Amos.
With regard to Iran, the Baroness added: “Iran shouldn't be excluded from the global community, but there should be pressure put on Iran to act responsibly.”
Khalid Abdulla Janahi said: “Instead of looking at the others, we should ask ourselves, ‘what are we as Arabs doing for refugees?' We are not creating an infrastructure, we are expecting the Europeans to do so. And that is our problem.”
“The common view is that security brings stability and then prosperity. I firmly disagree – it is economic development that brings stability and prosperity,” added Janahi.
Set to conclude on October 11, Beirut Institute Summit seeks to explore the Arab region's challenges and potential through integrated inter-disciplinary perspectives that move beyond a traditional understanding of the concepts of “political economy” and “security threats”. Among the issues under the spotlight at the open-door plenary sessions are the role of smart cities, Arab women's viewpoints and the relationship between ideas and policy.
Saudi-based ACWA Power is supporting the Summit as gold sponsor, with Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC) as silver sponsor, and the UAE's national carrier, Etihad Airways as the official airline partner. A.T. Kearney is supporting the Summit as the exclusive Knowledge Partner.