On its second day, the Seventh Doha Forum on Democracy, Development and Free Trade currently in session in Doha addressed a set of topics having to do with economy and freedom of the media.
Under the theme ‘Economic Transitions: From the Welfare State to Globalization Economies’, Vice Chairperson and Managing Director of Amwal, Sheikha Hanadi bint Nasser bin Khaled Al Thani dealt with ways of mobilizing the human resources of the gulf region, casting light on the inter-dependency between democracy and economic development.
In her address, Sheikha Hanadi bint Nasser bin Khaled Al Thani maintained that democracy was a synonym of good governance because it fosters stability and security and guarantees economic and political participation by the public through sound policies of transparency.
Dr. Youssif Al-Hassan, Director General of the Emirates Institute of Diplomacy talked about the transition in the gulf post-welfare state. Dr. Fadil Mahdi of the ESCWA Office in Lebanon dealt with the economic impact of globalization in developing countries.
Dr. Joseph jabbra, President of the American University of Beirut talked about ‘building Arab capacity through education’ and Dr. Ali Aissaoui, head of Research Department at the Arab Petroleum Investment Corporation in Saudi Arabia talked about a stranger case for economic diversification in the Middle East and North Africa region.
At other session, the panelists discussed other key themes, including ‘freedom of the media: fact or fiction’, ‘the impact of information flow on media freedom’, ‘the role of media in the promotion of peace’, ‘the Empire and the clash of civilization’, and ‘the gap between the North and the South’.
The Forum was opened by the Emir of Qatar His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and his consort Her Highness Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al-Misnad sponsored on Monday 23 April 2007.
The opening of the Forum was attended by the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister H E Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabor Al Thani.
A number of Their Excellencies sheikhs and ministers together with the Speaker of the Advisory Council, several heads of diplomatic missions in Doha, ranking officials, guests and businessmen attended the opening of the forum.
“I welcome you all to the Doha Forum on Democracy, Development and Free Trade in its seventh session. Since its 1st session, your Forum has passed through a period of time which I consider enough to review the progress of the basic issues with which the forum is concerned,” His Highness said in his opening speech.
“What has been achieved so far in democracy is not up the aspired level. Of late, there has even been a sort of lassitude and slackness in pushing forward the reform process with the pretext that the conditions in the region do not allow.”
“It is true that the prevalent circumstances in the Middle East are still highly sensitive and complicated. However, that is not a justification for evading the democratic process. The region had previously experienced the deferring, if not freezing, comprehensive reform for many years, using all kinds of pretexts until its problems piled up and its crises increased,” His Highness said.
“Therefore, it should not make the same mistake again under the false impression that the relative abatement in the international concern about the advancement of democracy in the area would bring things back to their previous stagnation,” he added.
“The greatest mistake, in my judgment, is to subject the progress toward democracy or retreat from it to messages coming to the region from abroad, or to the degree of external interest in its affairs, or to external pressures put upon it.”
“This is an immature conception that ignores the free will of the people and their right to live a sound political life where freedoms are respected and where all people enjoy all rights, on top of which is the right to participation in public affairs,” his highness told the Forum audience.