Al Banwan: “Regional economic integration and improving the quality of education are critical for the future prosperity of the MENA”
Marrakech, Morocco- 1 November 2010:
Zain, the leading mobile operator in the Middle East, was a regional partner at the recent World Economic Forum (WEF) on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) held in Marrakech, Morocco between October 26 and 28.
The meeting, which was attended by over 1,000 leaders from business, government, civil society and media from 62 countries, was held under the theme “Purpose, Resilience and Prosperity”.
The Chairman of the Board of Directors of Zain, Mr Asaad Al Banwan, who attended the meeting with Chief Commercial Officer Mr Bashar Arafeh and Zain Jordan CEO Dr Abdel Malek Jaber, said that the call for urgent action to secure the future prosperity of the region was in line with Zain’s own core value of Radiance, Heart and Belonging and its dream of creating ‘A wonderful world’.
“Regional economic integration and improving the quality of education are critical for the future prosperity of the MENA,” said Mr Al Banwan who participated in many sessions and discussions with world economic leaders during the three-day event, including a Zain delegation private meeting with WEF Founder and Executive Chairman Mr Klaus Schwab.
Mr Al Banwan further noted that, “the MENA region has a population of 360 million and the potential to contribute to the wider international community. Zain and companies like it can help nurture this potential and, with the technology at its disposal, take the region to the very front line of economic opportunities.”
For his part, Mr Arafeh, who was a key speaker at one of the main sessions declared that, “Companies that generate wealth have an obligation, not only to channel some of that wealth back into the community, but to do it in a way that will lead to sustainable growth for future generations.”
Mr Arafeh concurred with the general sentiment of the event that, the region is poised to reclaim the great leadership, innovation and scholarship it showed 1,000 years ago, when it was at the cutting edge of civilization. “If the MENA region works together, it can become a genuine emerging market leader in the 21st century.”
Dr Abdul Malek Al Jaber, a member and regional advisor to the World Economic Forum, and who participated as a key panelist in several sessions at the forum, stressed, “the importance, indeed necessity, to create a solid partnership between the private and public sectors to ensure that region’s youth acquire the skill sets to compete in the global economy.”
Key findings of the forum included the need to improving the quality of education in the region, which is critical if citizens are to acquire the skill sets necessary to compete and excel in the 21st century marketplace. Specific initiatives agreed on by the participants included the launch of public-private partnerships in four countries to connect regional centres of excellence and the creation of a network of high schools around the Mediterranean.
Zain, which has a proud track record in the Middle East and Africa for providing educational stimuli and initiatives, wholly endorses these initiatives and was proud to be involved in their inception.
Another key finding was the need for further action to close the gender gap and reduce youth unemployment. This is essential to building a thriving middle class – the core of any prosperous and resilient society. Meanwhile, it was agreed that any failure to provide the growing ranks of low-and middle-income citizens with a sense of mobility and aspiration can lead to social instability.
Panelists also agreed that the region is blessed with two unique assets: its people and its resources but recognized that if they are not invested in wisely over the coming years, they can easily turn into liabilities.
Next year’s World Economic Forum on the Middle East will be held at the Dead Sea, Jordan from 20 to 22 May 2011 in which Zain is committed to be a partner.
Zain is a leading telecommunications operator across the Middle East providing mobile voice and data services to over 35.3 million active customers as of 30 September 2010 with a commercial presence in 8 countries. Zain operates in the following countries: Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Sudan. In Lebanon, the company manages ‘mtc-touch’ on behalf of the government. In Morocco, Zain has a 15.5% stake in Wana Telecom, now branded ‘INWI’, through a joint venture. Zain is listed on the Kuwait Stock Exchange (stock ticker: ZAIN) with a current market capitalization exceeding KWD 5.8 billion (US $20.5 billion) as at October 31, 2010.
For more information, please visit http://www.zain.com or email: [email protected]