The Dubai Economic Council (DEC) in collaboration with the International Monetary Fund (IMF)- Middle East and Central Asia Department have organized a press conference held on May 6th, 2014 to launch the IMF’s “Regional Economic Outlook Update for the Middle East and North Africa” report.
The distinguished opening speech of DEC’s Secretary-General, Hani Al Hamli, gained a lot of attention by the media in which he began by thanking the IMF for their cooperation with DEC in launching the report.
The DEC Secretary-General stated that in this time of the year 2008, DEC also in cooperation with IMF launched a report “Regional Economic Outlook”. During the six years that separated the two reports, there has been an enormous changes in both the regional and global economy.
He also pointed out that the importance of the report is not limited to the awareness of developments taking place in the regional and global economy, but what can be provided by the indicators and analysis that punctuated in addition to the expectations of future prospects for decision-making centers in the UAE in the public and private sectors to take appropriate policies enhanced process economic development in this world changing economy.
In this context Al Hamli said that the MENA region has a strategic importance in the global economy as it became more intertwined than ever before, especially in light of economic globalization and cross-border integration. There are eight member countries in the OPEC, and on the other hand oil-importing countries. A new group of countries that have been experiencing political instability and social tensions marked an evident transformation point for Arab countries, overshadowing a new era of economic, political and social reforms, which requires monitoring changes in the economies in the region firsthand, and to draw lessons in supporting economic policies that keep pace with these changes.
Positive signs in the economy of the region
The Secretary-General stated that REO report indicates the appearance of positive signs resulting from an improved performance of the global economy, and specifically the recovery in oil production and expansion in some non-oil sectors that would reinforce the growth in oil-exporting countries. The oil-importing countries on the other hand will benefit from strong demand and growth.
UAE economy is dynamic and flexible
His Excellency also reviewed the most important developments in the UAE economy. The report reveals the vitality of the UAE economy on a regional and global level indicating that the rate of its GDP growth rate during the period 2000-2008 was 6.2%, which is considered among the highest in the region. The national economy was able to surpass the 2008 global economic crisis in which it continuously increased from -4.8% in 2009 to 1.7% in 2010 until it reached 4.8% in 2013 coming only second place after Qatar. The UAE is expected to maintain the level of growth during the current and coming year.
Wise economic policies as one of the secrets of economic boom
The Secretary-General stressed on the factors that contributed to the outstanding performance of the national economy and the most importance initiatives and policies adopted by the UAE government, along with a strategy to diversify the production base and continuous spending on infrastructure and social services such as education and health.
Dubai a center of national economy
His Excellency noted that Dubai has proven itself as a center of the national economy having exceeded expectations in the economic growth of 3.5% in 2010 to 4.1% in 2012, thanks to the good policies issued by the government of Dubai over the past years.
The Secretary-General introduced the DEC vision on the future of MENA economy that held on three pillars:
First: The human capital consolidation: to be achieved through education and training.
Second: The balance of macro-economic environment supportive of structural transformation: to be achieved through taking sound fiscal and monetary policies that ensures the greatest possible stability and confidence increase.
Third: Dynamic regional economic integration: to be achieved through the liberalization of trade between countries in the region and through meeting the regional integration projects requirements, especially among GCC state members.
Dr. Masood Ahmed, Director of the IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia Department, gave a presentation on MENA’s 2014 Regional Economic Outlook. He shared IMF staff’s views on recent developments and forecasts for the region and discussed policy implications for improving the economic prospects of the region over the medium term.
One of the most significant facts that Dr. Masood highlighted is the fragility of global economy recovery from the consequences of economic recession. He also mentioned that the growth in GCC partly results from its humble links with the global financial markets. Dr. Masood then discussed the political transformations taking place in some countries of MENA, where he stated that these changes are still there despite the variation across countries. He then concluded with some recommendations: the need for countries of the region to pay close attention to employment policies, particularly through the engagement of youth in the private sector, being the most important. As for the priorities of economic policies, he emphasized on the significance of financial stability.
After the presentation, a panel discussion held titled “GCC Countries amid a Turbulent Global Economy: Options for the Future” and was charred by Dr. Abdul Razzaq Al Faris, Chief Economic Counselor at DEC. Panelists include Dr. Masood Ahmad, Director, Middle East and Central Asia Department, IMF, Dr. Mohamed Lahouel, Chief Economist, Department of Economic Department-Dubai, Dr. Ibrahim Elbadawi, Director, Macroeconomics and Forecasting, DEC, and Mr. Ashok Aram, Chief Executive Officer, Deutsche Bank MENA.
The session addressed a number of important issues concerning the reality and future of region, especially with the rapid economic changes taking place in the global economy, along with an emphasis on policies of structural transformation and the need to create jobs for young people. Also, it is important for the elite and powerful forces among society to arrive at sort of “social contract”, a common vision in the field of development.
At the end of the conference, group photos of the participants and the audience were taken.