07 May 2008

Mr Karzai, pass the rice please

Kuwait’s Deputy Prime Minister Faisal Al-Hajji, Kuwaiti Prime Minister Nasser Al-Sabah, Kuwaiti Prince Nawaf Al-Sabah, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Jordanian King Abdullah, Kuwait’s Amir Sabah Al-Sabah, Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade, Bosnian President Haris Silajdzic, and many more heads of states and government ministers attended the World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) in Kuwait from 29 April to 1 May 2008. The names and titles were almost as long as the convoy of coaches, luxury petrol guzzlers and police escorts from the Kuwait Sheraton to the Bayan Palace.

Kuwait pledged to donate $100 million towards a fund, aimed at providing basic foods to poor people in Islamic countries. "Kuwait ... is offering an initiative to establish a fund for decent life in Islamic countries to provide basic foodstuff for those who are in need quickly," Kuwaits Amir said during the opening of the fourth WIEF.

In Kuwait, the world's seventh-largest oil exporter, inflation hit a record 9.5 percent in January as housing costs jumped 16.1 percent and food prices rose 7.7 percent. Several Arab and Muslim capitals have witnessed protests by people demanding government intervention to ease the impact of rises in the prices of foods.
Hamid Karzai, having just survived an attempt on his life, spoke about the fact that both, some of the richest and poorest countries in the world, had Muslim majority populations. ‘Islam encourages trade and innovation,’ he said, and called upon Muslims to societies to concentrate on scientific education to aid development and growth.

He also touched on the negative perception of Muslims in the world- ‘Our area is engulfed in many disputes and we have enemies that use the situation to destroy the Muslim nation. The extremists are keeping girls from education and there are 60,000 in Afghanistan who left school,’ Karzai complained. ‘A Ummah (nation) of 1.4 billion, with 40 million youth of working age- yet we still face the most difficult problems of the world- ignorance, unemployment, shortage of food, lack of development…’

In a brilliant oratory exercise, King Abdullah of Jordan wooed the crowd with his powerful words. ‘This is no ordinary international meeting!’ he bellowed to the crowd. ‘What you achieve here, and the efforts you carry forward, will have an impact- not only in the Islamic world, but the entire world will enjoy the economic benefits,’ he said. ‘Whether Muslims, not only in Islamic countries, but everywhere in the world will have access to the economic promise of the 21st century. Whether our community can achieve its rightful place in the global economy, not just sharing in prosperity but helping to write the economic rules, giving voice to Islam's values of co-existence, justice, and a better life for all.’‘Our combined resources and geo-economic position make the Islamic world key to every major economic issue of our time, from creating a green global economy, to energy sustainability and more,’ King Abdullah said. ‘The world Muslim population is almost one-fifth of humanity and predominantly young, giving us a significant force for productivity and market growth. With one-quarter of the world's landmass, the Islamic countries are channels to every corner of the global marketplace. We stand on a long Islamic history of enterprise and learning - and we are empowered by the unity, values, and the purpose of Islam,’ said Abdullah.

‘Nothing is more important than our people. Among our countries we have one of the largest youth groups in the world. They are full of ideas, energy and vitality.’ Yet, he added, there is a perennial shortage of skilled manpower. Of those students that study abroad, half do not come home. Not only are we are losing their expertise, which is key to the future of business, science, education and other priorities, but we are also losing their local knowledge - a mine of cultural and national understanding, needed to shape developments to the needs of our people and ensure success.
Abdullah said, ‘We need to break this cycle. Many of our countries have taken bold steps to advance the private sector, trade-led growth, and the jobs and development it creates. But to meet our goals - to truly help our people realize their aspirations - we must also do more to unleash the potential of our creative class. Above all, this means restoring the tradition of innovation in the Muslim world. Our governments, companies, and development leaders must support innovation, with the same deliberate approach that we apply to building infrastructure or attracting investment.’

President of Bosnia and Herzegovina Haris Silajdzic said that Bosnia can be used as prime example on coexistence between people. He said forgiveness is key to living in peace, and pluralism and acceptance of the other, are ways to development and prosperity. He said, ‘We are living in a global village which calls for mutual respect. In Bosnia we are living a model of pluralism. It was the reason for a war that was imposed on us. Models such as this must be preserved...pluralism and forgiveness’.

Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade said that Africa is facing a crisis due to increases in food prices. He said ‘Problems are keeping us from achieving our goals’, adding that ‘countries must pay close attention to agriculture as we were surprised by the high prices.’ He said that poverty must be eradicated to ensure development. Wade said oil has been discovered in Senegal and will soon be used, and investment funds should contribute to the proposed fund against poverty.

2 comments:

Khadija said...

damn these people.

Hoosain & Zarina & Nafeesa said...

Slmz

Do u think this conference will have any impact on the muslim world or will it just be business as usual