Mohammed showcases UAE at Economic Forum

DALIAN (China) — The number of literate and educated people in the UAE has been increasing since the 1970’s and the country is focusing its attention on optimising education to provide its citizens with skills that are essential to live up to the knowledge age, said His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, speaking here on the opening day of the World Economic Forum (WEF).

By (Wam)

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Published: Fri 7 Sep 2007, 10:30 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 5:06 AM

Shaikh Mohammed underlined the critical and essential role of learning which he said is closely connected with the prosperity of nations highlighting the role of the knowledge economy as a decisive factor in promoting the economic prosperity and survival of nations. Shaikh Mohammed made his remarks in the speech before more than 2,000 high-profile governmental and business leaders and prominent personalities from over 80 countries attending the forum in the Chinese city of Dalian which kicked off yesterday.

Among the prominent members of the audience were Queen Rania of Jordan; Tarja Halonen, President of Finland; Professor Klaus Schwab, founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum; and Wen Jiabao, Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of China.

Shaikh Mohammed also stressed the role of Arab young leaderships in effecting reform, change and sustainable development through interacting with other cultures and experiences.

Following is the text of Shaikh Mohammed’s speech: “One of the reasons which made me respond to invitations to speak today for the fourth time at the World Economic Forum (WEF) is that the venue of its current meeing is China, the giant that has regained its might and leverage, has achieved global political and economic prominence and implemented its unique method of development, change and reform.”

“China is cherished by us Arab and Muslims, and our great grandfathers urged us to seek education and learning even if it means to travel to China, considered the furthest destination at the time. This shows their awareness and appreciation of China’s achievements, inventions and great contributions to science.”

Main trade route

“The Silk Road connected China with West Asia and the Arab world and, therefore, was a main trade route after the Abbasid Caliphate had assigned an ambassador to Chang’an, the capital of Chinese empire. It continued to serve as the cultural and commercial link between Asia and Europe and was a truly metropolitan globalised city where all nationalities and faiths coexisted and more than 100,000 Arab, Indian, Persian, Turkish and other merchants lived and worked.”

“Had the effective and powerful presence of China been absent, today’s world would have been very much incomplete. China and other Asian nations emerging in today’s world add to the richness of our world, feed its diversity, expand its markets and promote peace and stability.”

“Our attempts to try and create powerful platforms for interaction among traditional and new players or for that matter between

the east and west have its huge impacts on the current status of relations and cooperation among the world’s big players.’

"(These relations) are dominated by tensions and uncertainty and don’t live up to the interrelations and mutual influence among the world’s big economies.’

Economy crisis

"We have recently seen yet another example of this weak adaptation (to the current interrelations) where international efforts to treat and correct instability in the world’s markers. Had it not been for the rapid response and direct intervention of certain governments, there would have been a crisis so massive that no one could possibly be able to foretell its negative impacts on the whole world’s economy.”

“Just two weeks ago, my attention was drawn to an announcement by an Australian group for financing home loans that it was unable to refinance US$5 billion of debts due to tightening of the grip on residential loans in the United States. The impacts of the current home-loan crisis in the US has hit Australia which lays thousands of miles away providing is no clearer example of the interlocking and interrelations among the world’s economies.”

“We have to recall the atmosphere of optimism which dominated the world following the end of the Cold War when the whole world had a historical moment and hoped that a new world order would be built where different cultures and nations coexist and the big powers cooperate on peacemaking and promoting stability and development.”

“Let us recall the hopes which were promoted then by the international community and were expressed by promises made by international conferences on education, population, women and other topics. “How many promises on development, environmental conservation and fighting poverty and epidemics have been delivered so far?

“No doubt, some progress has been made and several economies have achieved remarkable growth rates, but the whole picture is still riddled with many dark corners that pose many challenges for our world. The new challenges of building the knowledge economy — which is a decisive factor in promoting the economic prosperity and survival of nations — are still there. Education and learning therefore play a pivotal role in the progress and prosperity of any nation. In India and China alone, some 950,000 engineers graduated this year.”

“When the UAE gained its independence on December 2, 1971, there were only 45 college graduates. Today, we have tens of thousands of graduates. Over 92 per cent of UAE female students join universities, which is the highest rate in the world. We are currently focused on improving quality of education to provide our citizens with the skills required for the knowledge age.” Shaikh Mohammed said that poverty and illiteracy were perfect breeding ground for the seeds of extremism.


“If we want to champion prosperity and progress, we cannot ignore poverty that leads to isolation. We should, not only emphasise the role of education as the most powerful weapon in breaking the vicious circle of poverty, despair and extremism, but also enable those who fell prey to that circle,” Shaikh Mohammed underlined sustainable development as a challenging issue that needs to be addressed.

“Development with depleted natural resources is considered to be a great challenge for major cities such as Beijing, New Delhi and New York. It is a complicated issue, involving future energy security, limited oil reserves, access to water, access to land, national priorities, economic policies and recycling. We should produce more and consume less. we should allocate resources, put on efforts and cooperate in seeking alternative resources.” He urged the international community to seek fair resolutions to the current crises, wars and conflicts.

“A host of reasons led to that complicated situation, including adamant resistance shown by those who adopt extremist ideologies.

those zealots, including those who campaign for clash of civilisations, terrorists and extremists, are desperately seeking to change the world. They think that they can stop the wheel of history.”

Shaikh Mohammed also spoke about UAE’s regional and international role, saying that the country had offered a shining example in sustainable development, diversified economy and peaceful, creative co-existence. He referred to the launching of “Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation’, a major initiative to promote human development and provide hope and opportunity by investing in education and the development of knowledge in the region, with an endowment of $10 billion.

The foundation aims to open doors for forthcoming generations of leaders of the region to shape their future by equipping them with world-class knowledge and education. Shaikh Mohammed also cited China as an example of the ‘new champions’.

“Thirty years ago, China was seen as an under-developed nation. Today, it has the world’s largest economy and is set to develop further. What was the reason behind that massive transformation? You all know that the leadership there managed to deal with the tense environment and adopted a new approach that meets China’s needs and aspirations for development. This formula applies also to India, Malaysia, South Korea, Singapore and others. Simply put, the leadership’s role was decisive in achieving that transformation.”

Shaikh Mohammed said that preparing young leaders with a clear vision for both public and private sectors was a prerequisite for achieving development and progress.

Young leaders

“I am personally committed to building new generations of young leaders who are open to new ideas and to the change and

diversity. The UAE could have not achieved that progress without turning theory into practice and without learning from other

successful examples, including the Chinese example.”

Sheikh Mohammed concluded by urging support to the young generations in their quest of confronting common challenges.

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