The ABC is developing a networking platform to allow business leaders from across the Arab world to interact through working meetings.
The Annual Meeting of the Arab Business Council takes place in Manama, Bahrain 9-10 November 2005.
The ABC held its first annual meeting in Marrakech, Morocco, on 25-26 November 2004. Discussions included the economy, competitiveness and trade reform.
Tackling economic reform in the Arab world
The ABC firmly believes that much-needed reforms must come from within Arab societies and must respond to the aspirations of the Arab people.
At the Forum’s Annual Meeting 2004, the ABC ratified its Blueprint for Economic Reforms across the Arab world as one of the first steps to an Arab renaissance. The reforms are organised around issues of economic policy reform and liberalization; human resources development and governance.
In September 2004, ABC members agreed to create five task forces to tackle the reform agenda around the following issues:
- Capital markets
- Information and communication technology (ICT)
- Support to National Competitiveness Councils
Members of the ABC held several meetings with key political figures in the Arab world and received support from Jordan, Bahrain, Egypt, Lebanon and the League of Arab States.
National coordinators at the ministerial level have been appointed in Jordan, Egypt, Morocco and the UAE to act as contact points between the ABC and their respective governments.
The nomination of former members of the ABC, Rachid Mohammed Rachid, as Minister of Foreign Trade and Industry of Egypt, Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, as Minister of Economy and Planning of the UAE and Sharif Ali Zu’bi, as Minister of Industry and Trade of Jordan is a promising step towards a greater role for the business community in bringing about economic reform in the region.
The World Economic Forum’s Arab World Competitiveness Report is the first of its kind and assesses the conditions, structures and policies that are integral to the region's competitiveness in the global economy.
The ABC approved the establishment of National Competitiveness Councils to help to benchmark countries’ major indicators and promote competitiveness. The Egyptian National Competitiveness Council was launched in February 2004, and has now produced its first Egyptian Competitiveness Report, both in Arabic and English.
During the ABC meeting in Marrakech in November 2004, business leaders from Jordan, Bahrain and the UAE agreed to establish similar institutions, with the assistance of members of the Egyptian Competitiveness Council. Bahrain established its National Competitiveness Council in March 2005.
The core-teams from the National Competitiveness Councils of Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia will gather in Bahrain on 21 June 2005 for a technical workshop organized by the experts of the Competitiveness Programme of the World Economic Forum, and the founding members of the Egyptian National Competitiveness Council.
Promoting best practice standards
ABC members endorsed in Marrakech in November 2004 four covenants to promote best practice standards:
Business covenant on corporate governance
Business declaration on corporate social responsibility
Business covenant on the elimination of corruption and bribery
Business declaration on accounting and audit practices
Arab Media Initiative
The Arab Media Initiative of the ABC seeks to deepen and strengthen the culture of professionalism, ethics and transparency and improve overall content of Arab Media production. The first Arab Media Workshop took place in Cairo on 3 May 2005 and convened leading journalists, producers and content providers as well as NGOs and private sector participants to explore the problems and pressing issues of the Arab Media landscape.
The initiative seeks to create opportunities for private investment in production and distribution of professional and creative content; implement human resources capacity building programmes; and present a platform for dialogue with governments to formulate a balanced reform agenda to improve the media industry’s governance and economics.
The ABC carries the voice of the Arab private sector to the global level through contacts with business and political leaders:
in the USA
in the countries of the European Union
in Asia, where exchanges with the business community are to increase
with the G-8, within the framework of the Forum for the Future Business Dialogue. In Marrakech the ABC, OECD and other private sector bodies took steps to create the ABC/ G8 Investment Task Force, bridging the G-8 Forum for the Future and the MENA-OECD Investment Programme towards improving the investment climate in the region.
A core group of CEOs from the BMENA and G8 countries met during the World Economic Forum in Jordan 2005 and launched the Investment Task Force.