The UAE’s capital city hosted the Exceptional Meeting for the Council of Arab Ministers of Finance today in Emirates Palace, headed by HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance. The meeting was attended by delegations from all 22 Arab states and aimed at highlighting the latest economical, political and social developments in the Arab world and their implications on the region.
In addition to the presence of Arab Ministers of Finance and their representatives, the meeting was also attended by HE Dr. Ahmad Mohamed Ali, President of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), and HE Dr Jassim Al Mannai, Director General and Chairman of the Board of the Arab Monetary Fund in addition to numerous officials from international, regional and GCC financial institutions.
The event highlighted current economic challenges present internationally, and in the Arab world specifically. Discussions were held regarding their impact on economic growth rates in the region, where a number of Arab states have recorded an increasing rate of external debt ranging from 60% to 80 % of its national GDP.
Abu Dhabi’s initiative was also discussed during the meeting’s two sessions, which was launched by the UAE with the aim of restructuring Arab economies and to support economic integration and financial stability through enhancing their ability to compete with global economies. Attendees also examined methods of increasing opportunities of inter-Arab trade financing, where participants concurred that it was important to establish a clear roadmap for dealing with food and water security issues, in line with increases in the prices of food items globally.
HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum presented the opening speech at the meeting, where he welcomed all the participating Ministers of Finance from the Arab world and their delegations, in addition to thanking them for responding to the UAE’s invitation to attend in light with the recent developments facing the region and the world. HH also emphasized the importance of supporting economic integration between Arab states due to the positive impact it has on the rate of inter-Arab economic activity and in fulfilling sustainable development. HH went on to explain the importance of finalizing and implementing the decisions resulting from the Economic and Social Development Summit held in Kuwait in 2009 regarding trade in services and the establishment of the Arab Customs Union in 2015 in order to better deal with economic development challenges in the region.
“In this context, we need to enhance our capability of establishing a solid presence in global markets and to affirm our role in the global financial and economic system by establishing a new Arab development model. We need to reduce business risks, decrease costs, build new institutions, enhance governance, implement more initiatives to organize and develop Arab financial markets, increase opportunities of financing Arab and inter-Arab trade and improve the investment climate to attract direct Arab and foreign investment and reiterate the importance of the entry of all Arab countries into the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes. This falls in line with the decisions of the G20 and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in this regard,” HH added.
HH concluded by encouraging attendees to exchange economic expertise and knowledge to benefit from the strengths of Arab economies and work on addressing their weaknesses, which will in turn provide support for organizations and entities that will push forward Arab economic integration and allow them to compete with global economies.
HE Dr Jassim Al Mannai, Director General and Chairman of the Board of the Arab Monetary Fund addressed attendees during his speech at the opening session.
“I would like to express my gratitude to the UAE; its leader, government and its people for hosting this exceptional meeting this year. I would also like to thank my colleagues at the Arab Monetary Fund for their efforts in preparing the necessary documentation for this event,” HE said.
HE added: “This exceptional meeting is of utmost importance in light of recent political and economic developments that the region is undergoing and global economic developments that might result in severe impacts and repercussions on Arab economies. Today’s exceptional meeting provides us with an important platform to discuss unified Arab standpoints towards these challenges. This will allow us to enhance economic cooperation and coordination efforts to allow us to face global economic developments and their effects on Arab economies.”