Egypt to host 2016 World Economic Forum on MENA
Ahram Online, , Friday 22 May 2015

Egypt will host the next World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa at Sharm El-Sheikh in May 2016, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi announced Friday in a speech at this year's forum in Jordan.

In his address to delegates, El-Sisi said his country’s commitment to the political roadmap that was put in place after the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi is “steadfast” and that procedures to hold the long-delayed parliamentary elections are “currently underway.”

Parliamentary elections, the first since 2012, were due to be held in March, but the Supreme Constitutional Court ruled that several electoral laws were unconstitutional and would need to be amended. New dates for the polls have yet to be set.

El-Sisi also reiterated the government’s commitment to its economic development plan, announced at the Sharm El-Sheikh economic conference held in March.

The plan focuses on reforming all legistlation relevant to businesses to attract investments, launching mega-projects, reforming the state budget, creating jobs, and establishing social programmes through which the those most in need will have access to subsidies as well as means to finance micro and small enterprises.

The president added that sustainable development could only prevail through cooperation and integration between the government and the private sector, and with other countries in the region.

El-Sisi also said “extremism” and “religious and sectarian fanaticism” the region is currently facing is increasing as a result of “despair, frustration and a decline in the values of justice,” calling for a future of equality and pluralism.

These efforts have to be coupled with plans to eradicate poverty, according the president said constitutes a “huge source of suffering” for the people despite the economic potential of their countries.

El-Sisi dedicated part of his speech to young people, saying that the future belongs to them.

"The challenge posed by investing in the youth is not just an item on the agendas of governments. It is a key issue that should constitute an area of cooperation and integration… between governments and business sectors," he said, adding that prosperity “cannot prevail except through this cooperation."

"Enhancing the role of youth can no longer be considered a luxury” added the president, adding that “it has become an imperative."

This year's forum is entitled “Creating a Regional Framework for Prosperity and Peace through Public-Private Cooperation."

King Abdullah of Jordan gave the opening address on Friday, telling delegates that now is the time for “everyone’s participation in development,” adding that “Jordan is the gate to the future of economy in the region.”

Also on Friday, El-Sisi invited the executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab, to attend the opening of the new waterway in the Suez Canal in August, reported state-owned news agency MENA.

Egypt is currently digging a second waterway parallel to part of the existing one in the Suez Canal, a project which is expected to more than double the canal's revenues.

In March, Sharm El-Sheikh hosted top business leaders and delegations at the country's economic development conference.