Gulf conference stresses importance of knowledge-based industries

Conference attendees noted that advances in the petrochemical industry had made the Gulf region a world leader. Above, a plant in Saudi Arabia. [Ali Jarekji/Reuters]

Conference attendees noted that advances in the petrochemical industry had made the Gulf region a world leader. Above, a plant in Saudi Arabia. [Ali Jarekji/Reuters]

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Participants in the 13th Gulf Industrialists Conference agreed that Gulf countries need to develop their knowledge-based industries if they want to diversify and be competitive in the world economy.

The conference, which ended Wednesday (January 18th), was held at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Centre. The event's theme was "Knowledge-based industries and new technologies".

More than 30 international experts and academics participated in the event and shared their expertise with attendees. Politicians, economists, businessmen and government officials in the industry sector also attended.

An exhibition was also held throughout the duration of the conference in which about 100 Arab and international exhibitors representing various industries were on site.

Dr. Tawfiq bin Fawzan al-Rubaya, the Saudi Minister of Trade and Industry, delivered a speech on behalf of King Abdullah. He said the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) has taken several steps to support an economy based on information and advanced technology, such as establishing relevant institutions and knowledge-based cities, developing infrastructure for information technology, increasing research budgets and advancing educational systems.

Reaching out

"Our participation in this important industrial gathering is an opportunity to reach out and interact with different industrial sectors," said Khaled al-Kawary, a Qatari industrial development expert.

Fahad al-Turki, a Saudi industrial consultant, told Al-Shorfa, "Saudi Arabia has made progress in its effort to expand and diversify its economy to include new knowledge-based industries. This has been done by taking advantage of foreign expertise, which has left an indelible mark in this area. Our ultimate goal is to achieve our ambitious development objectives."

He cited the volume of Gulf industrial projects in the petrochemicals industry, which increased from 7,490 projects in 2000 to 13,000 projects in 2010, a nearly 75% increase. He said the total value of investments in this sector increased during the same period from $87 billion to $222 billion.

"Most of the investments were made in strategic industries such as oil refining, petrochemicals, cement, iron and steel which have a positive impact on the economies in the Gulf and strengthened their competitive edge. This enabled the Arab Gulf region to become the most important centre for petrochemicals, liquefied gas and aluminium worldwide," al-Turki said.

Still in its infancy

Bader Khalfan, an Emirati knowledge economy expert, said that a knowledge-based economy in the Gulf region is still in its infancy.

"The percentage of a knowledge-based economy does not exceed 0.2% [in the Gulf] in comparison with 4% in advanced countries," he told Al-Shorfa.

Khalfan urged Gulf countries to increase their efforts to reach an advanced level in knowledge-based industries and to equip the younger generation with the necessary tools to function within a knowledge-based economy.

Also at the conference, Czech Republic President Václav Klaus shared his country's experiences in making the transition from a socialist economy based upon full state ownership of resources to a free market economy based upon supply and demand.

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    سليم

    2012-3-1

    The Gulf economy has become very fragile and it needs a lot of work, support, and communication through the efforts that will contribute to the return of the rising percentage of the Gulf economy after it witnessed a golden era and a very large rise in all aspects and areas of the economy. However, indolence and stagnation resulted in the events causing the fragility of the economy. This is a cause for concern and fear from a lot of areas that the Gulf States depend on. It is very essential that there would be proper dealing with people who are specialists in this area and that planning is done prior to the stage that may be a bit tricky for the fact that the economy will experience a critical situation. Perhaps for this reason, speeding up in saving the situation must be done so that the Gulf States will not decline in terms of the economy after passing through a golden age in all aspects that have contributed to increasing the level of the Gulf countries. It must be maintained, but it is difficult because it needs to invest a lot of money and effort in order to maintain it all. The economy of the country is the wedge, foundation, and asset which contribute to raising the level of the country. For this reason, we should follow it properly and very precisely in order to maintain it so as not to lose it in vain because it is not something insignificant or easy to bring back again. It is very important that there would be people who are professionals and have the capacity to seize the opportunity again. There should be intensification of efforts and persistence to maintain the economy as well as various available methods for the professionals in this area. However, without a strong and productive economy, the state would be at a loss with deprivation, poverty, hunger, and other situations that the Gulf States do not wish.

  • نوري عزيز

    2012-2-17

    GCC countries are facing a different position from almost all the rest of the other Arab States. They have opted for an entirely different route. In fact, the Gulf Governments are using better, safer methods, and ways in dealing with people. They treat their people in a comfortable, easy, and smooth way. The Gulf States authorities provide people with all services. For this reason, these countries are witnessing a particular kind of democratic rule. Indeed, these countries are very distinguished. They have all their needed services, technologies, progress, and development. It should be noted that they do have a lot of Arab nationalities. They try to exploit their energies, ideas, and creativity for the progress and development of their countries. They take advantage of them as much as possible. Thus, the Gulf States are democratic. They use democracy in a correct and sound way, which showed an accurate understanding of this principle. In fact, many Arab people hope that democracy will spread in all their countries, especially the nations that do not know the meaning of the concept of democracy and have never experienced it.

  • خالد جميل

    2012-2-12

    The Gulf countries are among the richest countries on earth because of their oil wealth and geographical locations. I think, in spite of their wealth and the joint work that they are doing in many cooperative fields, they have not yet managed to build a foundation for a strong economy that would protect them from any economic risks threatening the entire global economy in the meantime. The reason behind this is that the Gulf countries depend on oil revenues only and they neglect many other sectors such as agriculture, industry, and other fields which are considered as main tributaries that contribute to the development and support of the economy in these countries. In addition, they are importing from countries that rely heavily on the global market in supplying whatever their local markets need. Such an attitude poses a lot of risks to the economies of the Gulf countries, which have not laid down all the foundations for a robust economy. If they continue to depend on the global market and import everything they need, this will lead to a fragile economy that cannot last or survive for long. For how long will they rely on their oil wealth? What does the future hold for the Gulf countries and what will their economies be like when they have used up all the oil that they have at the present time, on which they depend in securing their economy? Therefore, I think the Gulf economy is very delicate and that the Gulf countries have consuming markets only, to the extent that a lot of the other countries totally depend on exporting their goods to the Gulf local markets.

  • احمد ذياب

    2012-2-9

    The Gulf economy’s level has lowered very much, regrettably. Recently, the economy worsened and the fragile consumption will lead Gulf States to a worse life. In my opinion, the states of the Gulf in the past have been better, but in this period, they are moving towards the worst. The duty of the GCC Governments is to work on the development of their economies, relations between the states, and to bring the Arabs and Gulf States to a better way of living. The Arab and Gulf States should work very hard in order to live better. The Gulf economy was very good in the past, but today their economy has reached a risky stage. There should be a solution to their way of consumption. The worst thing is the shaky economy and we hope that there will be developments towards a better future. The road to success and development in economic is going to require better relations with other countries. The Gulf States are not in a good position as of now and they must develop a better way of communicating with the other countries in order to revive the activity of its economy. In my opinion, the Gulf States’ economy is good but needs more development than before. According to what I think, the economy will improve if there is cooperation between the officials and the workers because what we want for the future is for the new governments to cooperate and move forward in order to return the economy to what it was. We want all of the countries, including the Gulf States, to work on their development.

  • حفيظ

    2012-2-9

    The Arab Gulf is a consumer market; it has almost no local production. The Gulf market depends on the world markets and industries with regard to everything. This is a negative thing that does not serve the wellbeing of the Gulf States. They need to revive their industries in all fields, to support their national economy. Accordingly, they will be able to decrease their dependency on the world markets to import all the products they need. In return, this will strengthen their economy and end all the problems that have led to the fragility of the economies in most of the Gulf States.

  • حسين ذنون

    2012-2-9

    All the Gulf States have a very fragile economy, despite their financial resources. These resources are not well used, due to the lack of successful economic policies through which these states could build a strong economy. The Gulf States have failed in supporting their economies; they could have opened many fields to serve their economy as additional assets. National industries and agriculture are absent from the Gulf economies; they only depend on the oil fortunes. Because of these huge fortunes, the Gulf States import most of their market needs from international markets. The importation process costs the Arab Gulf markets millions of dollars each year. This is why they greatly affect the Gulf economy, which is still a consumer market, because it does not depend on any of the local and national industries. The Gulf States suffer from a great failure due to the absence of industries that could fulfill the needs of the local markets. Accordingly, the Gulf economy is suffering from this main reason that has made it fragile, because of the weakness of industry, agriculture and free professions that should never disappear from the Gulf States.

  • رحيم رويشد

    2012-2-9

    The GCC countries have not taken any important initiatives that could lead to raising the economic level in these countries through laying the foundations of integration of the economy of the Gulf States and working on liberating the economy of these countries from theft and wasting funds. Of course, this requires bringing the negligent people to justice, even if they belong to the royal families or the influential princes or personalities. All those who are suspected of being involved in financial and administrative corruption must be referred to the concerned courts to be an example to the others. In this way, we will place the national economy of these states at the beginning of the correct road, which will lead to building a strong national economy that is built on sound bases, in addition to activating the other economic activities to create more jobs and build new plants, which play a key role in enriching the social life of the people through providing all their basic and fundamental needs and decreasing the importation of goods and commodities from other countries. Certainly, this would mean strengthening the economy and saving a great deal of funds that are usually spent for these purposes.

  • مرشد عبدالعزيز

    2012-2-9

    I think that one of the main causes of the weakness and fragility of the Gulf economy is the fact that the diverse natural resources in the lands of these countries have not been utilized in the best possible way; otherwise, these countries would have witnessed significant progress in all fields, and they would have developed a strong economy that could not be shaken, even by the strongest economic storms of all. However, we see that the Gulf States extract oil and gas from their lands to sell them to the other countries without achieving the required objectives of these enormous riches, whose destination is unknown to the Gulf people. Of course, this goes back to the backwardness and the lack of the necessary experience to protect the wealth of the coming generations through reinforcing the economies of these countries.

  • مصعب عبدالرحمن

    2012-2-4

    Despite the wealth and riches that God has bestowed upon the Gulf region, which are enough to make the whole world live comfortably and stably, we see that the Gulf economy is weak and fragile because the Gulf States do not depend on different industries that achieve self-sufficiency, but they import most of their needs from the other Gulf States. Therefore, the economy of these countries has become fragile and incapable of meeting the local needs. Consequently, these countries suffered from failures in many fields in addition to facing financial and administrative corruption, which played a key role in weakening the economic infrastructure. It also caused a serious problem which is the spread of unemployment, which is the main problem to many Gulf citizens, given the huge numbers of the expatriate workforce. Furthermore, there is the problem of poor education policies that represent the core of the economic development, which also requires specific educational qualifications and competencies. The economic fragility appeared clearly through the crises in the region because of the debts, weakness of the infrastructure, and education, as well as the rampancy of unemployment and indulgence of the kings and princes in the luxurious life without caring for what is going on in their countries. The manifestations of economic fragility also include the failure to establish industrial projects or offer good services to meet the local needs and strengthen the economy, which have become unable to meet the needs of the increasing population in the region. The strong economy will generate jobs for the unemployed citizens who want to participate but cannot get them. In addition, investing the huge returns of the oil exports can strengthen the economy instead of depositing them in the foreign banks.

  • فارس ضايع

    2012-2-2

    The Gulf States have deteriorated significantly, especially at the economic level, through the remarkable deterioration in the relations with the other states. Each state currently works to achieve its own interests, irrespective of the interests of the other states. The economic deterioration is serious and they must work on restoring their former economic strength, to prove that they are not weak and that they are capable of improving their economy. This is the most important sector in all states, because the state and the people can never survive without a strong economy. The strong economic relations play a key role in improving the economic situation. The Arabs are required to work together in order to improve our economy. I also believe that the weakness of the government and disagreements with the people will cause dangerous deterioration in the political situation. I also think that the Arab Spring has come very close to the Gulf States. Their current conditions are very difficult; they have to find a solution to this problem and work to develop countries economically and politically. These are two important fields in any Arab or European state. The Arabs are required to unify their efforts and opinions, so as not to lose each other over trivial issues. The Gulf economies are very important and they must work hard to save them from deterioration through establishing stronger relations with the neighboring countries to work together to get rid of all obstacles. Everything will be OK in the future, God willing, and the Gulf States will be among the best Arab and Gulf States ever. We wish everything good to all states.

  • عبدالمجيد عبدلله

    2012-1-31

    The GCC States have to quickly diversify their economic Gulf foundation, especially in terms of industry and services. They have to provide a good investment climate, unite the systems and policies, activate the court's role in solving commercial disputes, commit to certain mechanisms to execute and follow up on the economic integration decisions, and accelerate the development of the environmental Gulf commerce. They have to unite and integrate the Gulf industrial markets and update them with the technologies of the modern economy, i.e. the information economy, so that the GCC States can achieve a competitive feature for a stronger ability in terms of production and expenses.

  • فؤادفاضل

    2012-1-31

    An economic study reveals that the expenditures of the Arabic Gulf consumer on perfumes and makeup products is the highest consumption rate in the world. Another study shows that Qatar is in first place in terms of the individual monthly expenditure on mobile phones, whether buying the latest products or using the mobile phone services. The phenomenon of spending on luxuries is also related with the decrease in the saving rates of the Arabian Gulf families. Many of them take loans from the banks, sometimes beyond their ability to pay. This issue is threatening the stability of the economic and social future of the GCC States. This is why they need to establish an effective Gulf Economic Bloc, which has to be supported by establishing big industrial transcontinental companies, so that the GCC States can deal efficiently with the economic blocs and huge international companies which are famous for quality and experience in international markets, as those companies are eager to jump in and have a strong presence in the GCC markets.

  • وارث محمد

    2012-1-31

    The growing consumerism, the excessive expenditures of the GCC economy and the increase of prices represent a heavy burden on the budget of the Arabian Gulf families. Those families waste a great deal of their resources on luxurious products and services, so consumption drains their monthly and annual incomes. An example of those luxuries is the constant buying of the most famous brands of perfumes, mobile phones, watches, bags and makeup. Additionally, families spend a lot of money in talking on the mobile phone for a long time, giving big banquets and throwing the leftovers into the garbage, and preferring to order delivered and fast food over eating at home. There is no doubt that luxury consumption eats up a lot of money and incurs great expenses. The luxury consumption is defined as expenditure for dispensable commodities and services. Yet, with the development of life, the improvement of living standards and the influence of commercials, the luxuries became part of the basics. The reason for this is the habits with negative effects on the individuals' behaviors, represented in the blind imitation, envy of others and the love for boasting and showing off personal belongings, thinking that it is part of the social status. A study conducted by MasterCard last year revealed that the priorities of expenditure in the Middle East and the Gulf States are as follows: the restaurants and entertainment are the top priority for 71% of the people clothes and beauty products for 49% and buying houses, real estates and redecorating them for 45%.

  • مهتاب محمد

    2012-1-31

    The Gulf States are consuming economies of the first degree. The big gap between the consumption expenditure in comparison to the small investment expenditure does not fit with the high expectations and hope of the region's people to develop and grow. The development depends mainly on decreasing the consumption expenditure in favor of the investment expenditure, which is the main indication of the development and growth of the economy. The economic structure of the GCC States has changed due to the oil fortunes; it has made it more of a consuming society than a productive one. The GCC States have to be aware of the time factor in dealing with their depleting oil fortune. This fortune has to be managed in a productive way; it has to be used to achieve real investment rather than exaggerated consumption which is not linked to real production. The weak absorptive capacity of investment in the GCC economies leads to the leakage of a great deal of the Gulf savings abroad, or recycling those savings in the symbolic economy represented in the capital, stock and foreign exchange markets.

  • Bob

    2012-1-22

    Hello Just to remind you that the historical and international name of the body of water that lies between Iran and her southern neighbors is Persian Gulf and not just Gulf. Deleting the name of the Persians from this body of water is indeed a Cultural Genocide. I hope that our Arab brothers come to their senses and respect this right. Sincerely, Bob