Focus on Youth: Jordan’s Crown Prince Opens World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa

  • Prince says only younger generation can ultimately drive radicalization out of MENA region
  • Klaus Schwab calls for inclusive leadership that listens to youth
  • King Felipe VI of Spain cites need to build coalitions for peace and development
  • President of Iraq praises the success of pushing back ISIS and expresses optimism for rebuilding
  • Niger’s president says the best way to fight against inequality and poverty is through education
  • For more information about the meeting:

Dead Sea, Jordan, 20 May 2017 – Representing the next generation, H.R.H. Crown Prince Al Hussein bin Abdullah II of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan opened the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa, declaring his generation’s commitment to innovation and change.

Underlining the meeting’s theme, Enabling a Generational Transformation, the prince said the next generation is embracing new technologies that are leading to new ways to connect, learn and work, and can be a powerful tool in the fight against terrorism.

“On one side is a treacherous tide, luring our youth towards a dark reality that sinks us deeper into violence, intolerance and regression through the corrosive power of an extremist ideology; the other transporting us to sunnier shores, where moderation sees our Muslim and Arab identities at peace with modernity and progress, a reality where we can be productive and positive contributors to the world around us,” he said.

Prince Al Hussein paid tribute to 21 Jordanian start-ups named by the World Economic Forum as among the 100 best in the region. “You represent the best for the future of our youth through your perseverance, ambition and determination,” he said. He added that these innovators and others like them in the region need to be supported, morally and financially, so they can unleash their potential and create their own impact. “They need your help to advance and scale their projects so they can see for themselves the difference they can make,” he said.

Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, commended the prince and his generation for their active role, stressing the importance of trusted leadership and inclusiveness, especially the need to “listen to the young, decide with the young and act through the young.”

H.M. King Felipe VI of Spain noted the important meaning of Prince Al Hussein’s participation in the meeting, which represents the next generation, “the one we all need to work for, and with, to help provide them with greater hope and real opportunities for a better future in the region.” The king stressed the need to work together and to rise to the challenges and seize the opportunities. “Let us join forces, defend our values and together build coalitions for peace and for inclusive development,” he said.

Fuad Masum, President of Iraq, praised the efforts of Iraqi and coalition forces in rolling back extremism in his country with the imminent liberation of Mosul, and working towards defeating ISIS. But even when the fighting ends, the president said, Iraqis still need to win the battle of reconstruction. “Our priority is to repatriate those who were displaced and to develop ambition plans to rebuild the country.”

Mahamadou Issoufou, President of Niger, also noted the challenges facing his country in the struggle against terrorism, as well as the fight against poverty and inequality. “Education is the best way to fight against inequalities and poverty,” he said. “We must seize the opportunities offered by the digital revolution that encourage innovation and entrepreneurship.”

The World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa is taking place at the Dead Sea in Jordan on 19-21 May. With the full support and presence of Their Majesties King Abdullah II and Queen Rania Al Abdullah, this year marks the Forum’s ninth meeting in Jordan and the 16th meeting in the region. More than 1,000 business and political leaders and representatives from civil society, international organizations, youth and the media from over 50 countries will participate under the theme, Enabling a Generational Transformation.