3rd Doha Forum on Democracy , Development & Free Trade
His Highness Shaikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Emir of the
State of Qatar inaugurated the conference.
H.H. said addressing the forum: (The convening of this
conference under the critical circumstances, through which
our region is passing, is clear evidence of the importance
we attach to the vital issues that will be discussed in its
We regard democracy and responsible popular participation in
decision making and the running of state affairs as a
pre-requisite for the development of our countries and
societies and setting the role of the constitutional,
political and legal institutions needed for building the
state which is capable of addressing the requirements of the
contemporary world and future challenges.
At the same time, we believe that the economic openness,
encouragement of the private sector and investments,
updating the educational systems as well as strengthening
the bonds of cultural and civilization exchange and
interaction between peoples and nations, constitute, on
their part, necessary foundations for the realization of the
objectives of the development, modernization and progress we
aspire. Political democracy and economic and social
democracy are, in our view, inseparable twins. Indeed, they
are the indispensable means for the process of development
and prosperity we seek, and work for…
The problems our region is suffering from are not limited to
political and security aspects; but there are other
challenges and difficulties, which we have to tackle in the
economic, social and environmental fields.
These are of no less significance and impact than regional
conflicts in terms of their negative repercussions.
Indeed, poverty, unemployment, social and cultural
backwardness, decline of standards of education and
vocational training, mismanagement, poor economic
performance, lack and disparity of job opportunities, all of
which form sources of threat that cannot be ignored.
Furthermore, they represent major obstacles which impede the
attainment of progress and development. It is no longer
possible to put aside these difficult economic and social
conditions without according due attention to them, but it
has rather become urgent and imperative to find out plans
and programs that guarantee reaching effective and quick
solutions to them….).
His Excellency Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabor Al Thani,
the First Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister addressed the
H.E said (The third in the series of conferences organized
by Qatar on democracy and free trade is rather special. It
was held at a determining moment and at an exciting stage in
the history of the Arab region, I would not be exaggerating
if I were to say in the history of the world system: the
events of the Iraqi war had reached their peak and all were
waiting to see how things would go.
When the conference was convened under the aegis of his
Highness Sheikh Hamad Ben Khalifa Al Thani, the Emir of the
land, in the presence of such a great group of intellectuals
and politicians from different countries and of different
orientations, I was certain it would be indeed a very
special conference. Looking at this elite gathering, I
expected the debate would be at the highest level and in
keeping with the importance of the moment and the
seriousness of its events. This also makes me more convinced
than ever of the importance for Qatar’s political and
economic orientations to continue towards democracy and free
trade, so that it can play its role at both regional and
Throughout its sessions, the Conference discussed the two
issues of democracy and free trade as a general starting
point from which stemmed several closely related topics. The
angle from which democracy was approached was widened so as
to include religion, education, institutions, human rights
and information. As for the issue of free trade, it
encompassed open markets, sustainable development and
All the debates took into consideration the regional and
concentrating first and foremost on the present and future
concerns of the Arab region, particularly the events in
Iraq, the Arab-Israeli conflict and the stand against
terrorism in the light of the ongoing changes in the
international order and the aims of world strategies in the
The preparatory working paper for the Conference greatly
contributed to drawing the main lines of approach to the
issues and problems to be discussed.
The presentations of the main speakers during the sessions
were of a high level in terms of the information, ideas and
views on the subjects.
Equally important were the addresses at the opening session
by speakers belonging to national, regional and
international institutions, whose role and importance in
these fields are well known.
The discussions of the participants played a positive role
in enriching the dialogue with their depth and courage.
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4th Doha Forum on Democracy ,
Development & Free Trade (5-6 April,2004)
The Conference was held on the 5th and 6th of April 2004 in
Doha. It was inaugurated by His Royal Highness Sheikh Hamad
Bin Khalifa Al Thani,Emir of the State of Qatar in the
presence of about (500) participants representing several
official academic, research, information and cultural
circles in different parts of the world in addition to the
representatives of some international and regional
organizations and bodies.
The work of the Conference was completed in the course of
(10)sessions. The responsibility of organizing and
moderating each of these sessions was given fully to a
specific institution in a manner that will be explained
later. In the course of the meetings several working papers
were presented by the panelists to the tune of (52) papers.
The discussions amongst the participants concentrated on the
papers. There were (71) observations and the panelists also
contributed approximately (36) comments.
Dealt with the issue of: “Education and its role in
promoting the march of The first topic democracy”. The
session was organized and chaired by: “The University of
Qatar and the Gulf Institute for Studies”; the discussion
dealt with the responsibility of education in the Arab
Region for the state of democracy therein. Two main
orientations emerged from the different opinions expressed,
one of which was to consider education in our region fully
responsible, since it does not contain nor adopt a culture
of democracy in the required manner but rather basic
elements obstructing democracy.
The other main orientation considered Arab education
innocent of such a charge and rather a victim of the
official Arab political and social order. The session
witnessed the expression of several views by the panelists,
as well as by the participants concerning the basis for the
reform of education and the external role to be played to
achieve that, as well as the impact of religious thought in
this particular area.
They also discussed the Qatari experience in the field of
the development of education.
Another topic discussed is: “The importance of culture in
economic development and democratic awareness”. This
discussion was organized and chaired by: “The Arab Press
Club in France” and it stressed the fact that the cultural
element has become the main promoter of political dynamics
in the world. The discussion concluded that democratic
salvation cannot be achieved without full freedom of
cultural and epistemological choice. The discussions also
expressed concern over the situation of Arab reality and the
deterioration there of, all of which require immediate
reform. They also discussed the fact that Arab political
culture is relatively receding at
all levels and is facing many challenges (the culture of
simplified dualities- the culture of all or nothing - the
culture of the fear of the other- and the culture of plots).
Also, the possibility of seeing the West attempt to impose a
ready-made culture and global criteria ready for
implementation or application.
That is why some of the participants warned against the
disregard for the increasing separation between the Arabs
and the Islamic world because of cultural misunderstanding.
Others called upon culture to wage the battle of development
and democracy provided it would not give priority to
material wealth at the expense of the higher values of
humanity; they also called upon culture not to
disregard or forget the political and cultural sovereignty
of the peoples. Moreover the issue of
secularization also elicited a very lively discussion
between the panelists and the participants.
The third topic of discussion was devoted to “The role of
economic development in enhancing and promoting democracy”.
It was organized and chaired by “The Council for Foreign
Relations in the U.S”. One intervention dealt with the main
pillars of economic development (education- political and
economic empowerment of women in society- transparency-
respect for personal rights and the sovereignty of law- the
role of the international community- and active civil
society). Another presentation dealt with the issue of state
security and democracy, while a third concentrated on the
importance of the role of women in achieving economic
development, stating three basic elements, the education of
girls -controlled of women over economic resources and the
participation of the feminine labour force. Yet, another
working paper dealt with the issue of generating
concentrated wealth and the importance of "risk capital”.
These presentations elicited very extensive dialogue and
discussions between the participants and the panelists,
particularly underlining the objection of some to what had
been said about "risk capital” and the role of banks
concerning the working capital. The question of alternative
sources of energy was also fully discussed, as well as the
establishment of a development bank for the Middle East were
of particular interest to all the participants.
organized and moderated the session devoted to
“The Arab Organization for Human Rights”. The main
discussing the issue of: “Transition in the Arab World,
issues and problematics”speakers, i.e . the panelists dealt
with the state of democracy in the Arab Region, the projects
initiatives for reform from within and from outside the
region at the present moment, all of which creates a very
difficult situation for Arab governments.
Others discussed those external projects particularly, the
American project and the fact that it is surrounded with an
aura of suspicion because of its several inherent errors, in
addition to the several existing confrontations in the
region particularly in view of the ongoing Israeli-
Palestinian conflict and the fact that they represent
obstacles hampering the establishment of the bases of
Some other participants dealt particularly with the steps
adopted by the state of Qatar on the path of democracy in
the course of the past years. The presentations elicited
very lively discussions in the hall between two main lines
of thought, one objecting to the import or the imposition of
democracy from outside, and rejecting the idea of those who
come to the region in order to teach us democracy.
The other line of thought considered that the world has
become practically a cosmic "flat" and not a cosmic village,
which makes it necessary for the inhabitants of that "flat"
to stand up, by force if necessary to any attempts to
destroy the facilities of the "flat" by other inhabitants.
The fifth topic dealt with: “The impact of crises and
instability on the development of democracy in the Middle
East”. The session dealing with this topic was organized and
moderated ”. One of panelists spoke of the role by: “The
Westminster Institution for Democracy in the U.Kof that
institution in helping enhance democracy and its experience
in this respect.
Another speaker dealt with the impact of external crises on
the state, with regard to the economic losses it causes or
with regard to the fact that such crises may lead to
reducing the scope of democracy within the country on the
pretext of the need to deal with external threat.
A third presentation dealt with the possibility that crises
and instability are not alone in hampering or are not the
main obstacles to democracy, whereas another presentation
expressed an opposite opinion and considered that internal
crises do not put an end to democracy, but rather that such
crises and instability may be the strongest factors in
leading to a mature democracy.
This opinion was supported by another point of view
affirming that the crisis is not an obstacle, but is
essential for the achievement of democracy.
These opinions were reflected on the discussions with the
participants, some of whom called for the necessity for the
Middle East to obtain the democracy that it deserved,
provided it stems from within the region stating that
external obstacles faced by the region, foremost of which is
the stand of the super powers with regard to the Palestinian
and Iraqi questions. Some other participants expressed their
concern over what had been said about the absence of reason,
which would prevent the forces of political Islam from
coming to power.
Another session dealt with: “The European role in promoting
democracy in the Arab World”. It was organized and moderated
by: “The Institute of International Strategic Relations in
France”. Some of the presentations dealt with the different
methodological approaches of Europe on the one hand and the
U.S. on the other concerning the way of establishing
Another panelist dealt with the extent of the possibility
for European and Western values to become an ex ample for
others, not, however, by exporting such values or having
A third panelist compared Europe to the Arab region with
regard to the issue of democracy, affirming that no single
state can claim to give lessons to others with regard to
A fourth panelist referred to the inevitability of having
Europe deal with the question of democracy in the Middle
East and of the need to devote serious thought to the matter
on the basis of its security and urgent interests, provided
that the key to any move should be towards enhancing
democracy in the Arab World and to develop a partnership
with the middle class, and civil society, both being a
source of development in the region.
Yet, another presentation stated that Europe would seem to
be closer to the region, not only geographically and
culturally, but also because Europe is more understanding
and objective with regard to the main issues within the
region foremost among which the Palestinian question as
opposed to the obvious American bias for Israel.
The participants had many comments with regard to the
presentations. Some considered the presentations to be
merely a number of statements in defense of Europe or the
Western World, while others linked Europe's success to the
extent of its capacity to offer assistance in finding a
solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. A third participant
called upon Europe to bring pressure to bear upon America
and to convince the latter of the need for both of them
together to assume responsibility in this respect. Others
spoke of the weak credibility as regards the role of Europe
the region as a result of the lack of political efficiency
of the European Union, in addition to the complex
bureaucracy that Europe is facing.
“The Royal Institute for International Affairs in the
UK”assumed the responsibility of organizing and moderating
yet another topic entitled "Iraq: Is Foreign Intervention a
Generator or an Obstacle to Democracy in the Middle East".
The discussion started with the assumption that Arab regimes
wish for the failure of American intervention in Iraq. Some
supported the idea, while others objected to such a
The discussion then dealt with the gravity of the Iraqi war
at both the Iraqi and regional level, and some panelists
criticized the incomplete democracy in Europe and the United
States of America.
Some presentations spoke of the justifications for foreign
intervention from an economic point of view, stating that
such an intervention is necessary with regard to the
Palestinian issue, and criticized Israeli politics and
practice against the Palestinians, all of which reveal
Israel as being a non liberal state, as well as being
unworthy of a state which declares itself to be a democratic
The discussion between the panelists and the participants
revealed the predominance of a current refusing the
principle of imposing democracy from the outside,
particularly by force, as is the case in Iraq at present,
they expressed suspicion regarding the credibility of the
stand of the United States of America bearing in mind their
position regarding the Palestinian question. On the other
hand, some speakers expressed interest in
Turkish-American-Israeli relations, and raised
questions as to the nature of such relations.
” was given the responsibility of “The Council for
Foreign Relations of the United States preparing and
moderating a session entitled: "The Formulation of Public
Opinion, Democratic Application and the Role of Arab
Information". One of the presentations dealt with the role
of the information office in the White House and its methods
of work, in the light of what was revealed by the events of
the 11th of September as to America's need to change its
manner of connecting with the rest of the world. Another
presentation gave actual examples concerning the attempt to
discover the facts connected with the investigations'
reports in order to put a stop to the rumours aiming at
destabilizing public opinion, or rumours aimed at reaching
wrong conclusions and adopting the wrong stands.
Another working paper dealt with the role and responsibility
of foreign information French) in Arabic for creating the
climate conducive to assisting and encouraging the
development of democracy in the region. Another speaker
dealt with the role of journalists in shaping public
A fourth panelist reviewed the obstacles and problematics
hampering the role of Arab information, particularly those
caused by the State, and preventing the development of
democratic mechanism. Another panelist dealing with the same
topic spoke of the requirement for the future and called for
the "institutionalization" and establishment of a charter of
honour for Arab information.
The comment of the participants was in agreement with the
presentations of the panelists, particularly regarding the
role of the state in limiting Arab information. However the
question concerning the danger of assassination threatening
some media men, and the accusation of the United States for
being directly responsible thereof, loomed high in the
discussions of this topic.
Another topic entitled: "Free Trade and the Promotion of
Democracy in the Arab World, Good Governance and Civil
Society " was the subject of another session. This session
was organized and moderated by: “The Centre of Studies and
Research on the Arab Nations and the Middle East- in
One of the presentations discussed present day reality as
regards democracy in the Arab World concluding that what is
taking place is not aimed at establishing democracy through
democratic political regime, but is rather the result of the
pressure brought to bear by the international community,
because of the way they view the radical regimes as enemies
of the international community.
A second panelist spoke of breaking up monopolies and dealt
with what was referred to as "the magic formula". A third
presentation dealt with the European view of cooperation and
partnership in order to achieve reforms, mentioning the
importance of Middle East partnership even though it has not
been realized to date and has only achieved average results
because of the fact that there was no success in achieving
peace in the Arab Region. The same panelist referred to the
new extended European policy of relations of good
neighborhood which was launched inJanuary of 2003 and which
in fact, offers a new perspective of the future.
Another panelist spoke of the success of the process of the
European integrationas opposed to the failure of its Arab
counterpart. Yet, a fifth presentation dealt with the role
of civil society in developing democracy as a fourth estate.
The discussion between the participants and the panelists
centered around the question of separating religion from the
state, some explaining that it is not impossible to
establish the concept of Islamic democracy, while others
considered that the failure of all attempts at Arab
integration as compared to European integration is due to
the Arab’s incapability of adopting a political decision,
while another speaker considered the role of Israel to be
responsible for such a failure.
assumed the responsibility of organizing and “The Islamic
Centre in the United States” moderating the special session
devoted to: “The policies and economics of energy in the
coming stage”. Some of the presentations dealt with the
political dimension of availability of resources, warning
states owning oil and oil-products not to consider this a
pretext to evade reform policies.
Another presentation dealt with world energy policies within
the framework of the radical relationship linking sources of
energy to economics, to the environment, to education and to
equality of opportunities.
Another panelist mentioned the fact that the USA would be
reducing their purchases in oil and natural gas from the
Middle East and the Gulf in the long run, a fact that
necessitates that such states should vary their economies,
and declare the innocence of the OPEC organization of the
charge of having an impact on the prices, laying the blame
on the US system of dealing with gasoline after the adoption
of the resolution for amending the law on pure air in 1990.
A fourth panelist affirmed that there is an agreement within
the United States concerning the need to reduce the price of
energy, while there is a disagreement concerning the way and
means of so doing, stating that the availability of energy
for all states may not be reflected in the form of economic
development and welfare for the people, but rather it may
divert attention away from the requirement of economic
Some of the participants expressed their concern regarding
the possibility of having false expectations, while others
expressed their reservations concerning the possibility of
seeing the United States of America reduce their dependence
on foreign oil, and regarding what had been said concerning
the tendency of the United States to shift their dependence
towards the global sources of energy.
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5th Doha Forum on Democracy ,
Development & Free Trade (29-30 March,2005)
Opening the Forum H.H. Shaikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani has
stressed reforms should be genuine and not in response to
Addressing some 500 prominent figures attending the
conference, the Amir said it was not enough to introduce
"partial amendments to avoid criticism or ease pressure".
Reform now has "new supporters ... after only few voices
pinned hopes on the birth of the era of democracy in the
region", he told participants from some 50 countries at the
forum's fifth edition.
Delegates at the meetings include US congressmen and
European lawmakers, with France sending a 50-strong
In an address to the gathering read by Secretary of State
for State Reform Eric Woerth, French President Jacques
Chirac stressed that reforms must come from within, a point
often made by leaders of the Gulf region.
While France encourages reform in the Arab world, "it knows
that changes must come from inside and take place at the
pace chosen by each of the countries of the region", he
"Every reform initiative must be based on the expectations
and needs of states and civil societies," the French leader
He also said a fairer distribution of wealth was a
prerequisite to stability.
"In an increasingly globalised economy, our common efforts
must reconcile the requirements of political reform and
economic justice," he said.
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6th Doha Forum on Democracy ,
Development & Free Trade (11-13 April,2006)
750 participants to took part in the 6th Doha Forum on
Democracy, Development and Free Trade held on Tuesday with
560 international participants from 72 countries attending,
HH the Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani inaugurated
the three-day forum and delivered a keynote address. The
delegates, including politicians, intellectuals,
businessmen, NGO representatives and journalists, will hold
12 sessions and four-roundtable discussions. First Deputy
Premier and Foreign Minister HE Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin
Jabor al-Thani delivered a speech on ‘Democracy and free
trade’, Each session had six speakers from different
HH THE EMIR INAUGURATED THE FORUM. HH THE EMIR HAS WARNED
THAT CHALLENGING THE CHOICES OF PEOPLES WILL ONLY RESULT IN
FULFILLING THE FEELINGS OF DESPAIR AND GENERATE WAVES OF
WRATH. MOREOVER OPPOSING THE POPULAR WILL CONTRADICTS THE
SPIRIT OF DEMOCRATIC OPTION THAT CALLS FOR COMPLIANCE WITH
WHAT THE MAJORITY DECIDES, HH THE EMIR ADDED. TOUCHING ON
THE REGIONAL SECURITY, HH THE EMIR SAID ESTABLISHING SUCH A
SECURITY COULD NOT BE COMPLETED UNLESS DEMOCRATIC PRACTICE
MAKES PROGRESS, BECAUSE SECURITY IS NOT JUST MILITARY
ARRANGEMENTS AGREED UPON BY STATES. IT RATHER REQUIRES
INTERNAL POLITICAL MEASURES WHICH ENABLE THE CITIZEN TO
PARTICIPATE IN THE AFFAIRS OF HIS COUNTRY AND SHOULDER HIS
H.E. SHEIKH HAMAD BIN JASSIM BIN JABR AL-THANI First Deputy
Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs also addressed
His Excellency Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabor Al Thani,
the First Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister, stressed that
fundamental basics of democracy that aim to attain social
justice are achieved through building a state of
institutions, human rights, effective citizen participation
in management and ruling, transparency and accounting for
acts, which guarantee all the respect of the people’s
THE Deputy leader of the Opposition in the House of Lords in
the UK, Lord David Howell, gave a call for setting up a
network of countries across continents for ensuring smooth
trade and better transparency among nations.
While lauding the role of regional forums in finding
long-lasting and effective solutions for many controversial
issues, the British parliamentarian highlighted the
necessity of such organizations to have an excellent
understanding with international forums, especially UN-led
Lord Howell made these remarks while addressing delegates at
a session on ‘Regional Institutions and Future challenges’.
Secretary General of Egypt’s Al-Ghad Party, Naji al-Ghatrifi,
told a session titled “Opposition and Power”, that such
regimes have been playing double games as in the case of the
establishment of civil society organizations.
Speaking about opposition parties in Egypt, al-Ghatrifi said
the Mubarak regime was responsible for their poor
performance in the recent elections.
Abdul Bari Addwan, editor-in-chief of Al Quds Al Arabi, a
prominent London-based Arabic daily, made a comment at the
forum during a question and answer session.
Israel, said Addwan, had some 3,000 nuclear heads but nobody
at this conference mentioned this, while many referred to
the Iran nuke issue.
Addwan said that Israel killed 3,000 innocent people in the
Palestinian territories and 'terrorism' was defined as an
act of killing and torturing innocent civilians.
Samuel Huntington’s theory of “Clash of Civilisations” was
flatly rejected by speakers at a seminar titled “Dialogue of
Civilisations in lieu of Clash of Civilisations” held as
part of the Forum.
The president of Western Michigan University, Dr Judith
Bailey, rejected Huntington’s premise saying that it was an
easily refutable argument. She indicated that Huntington’s
view is very simplistic and fell short on respect for human
“Huntington presumes that there is a finite limit on the
human spirit and that human being can only love and respect
one’s culture and perspective, we call that a zero sum
game”, Dr Bailey said while adding that Huntington quoted
from Michael Dibdin’s Dead Lagoon novel: “There can be no
true friends without enemies, we can not love what we are
unless we hated what not we are”.
Speakers at a session on “The age of great immigrations”
held as part of the Forum made a call to explore immediate
ways to check uncontrolled immigration from certain parts of
the world, notably in North Africa, to some European
countries, especially France.
Initiating discussions, Yazid Sabeg, chgairman and general
director of communications and systems `in France suggested
imparting education among younger generation of immigrants
about the problems a migrant likely to encounter in new
situations, encourage the development of countries from
where emigrants come from and thus trying to reduce the
immigration to the maximum, if not to the “zero” level, as
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