countries must see beyond oil and gas, says Clinton
By Pratap John
DOHA: The former president of the United States, Bill
Clinton, has said the Middle East countries need to
diversify their economies and enhance productivity if
they are to make optimum use of their resources and
Many people in the West and elsewhere in the world
believe the Middle East is the hotbed of politics and
seat of instability, which is not correct, he said
yesterday in his address to the opening session of the
two-day conference on ‘Enriching the Middle East’s
Clinton said the respective governments in the region
must create business opportunities beyond oil and gas
and their enterprises. Policies must be framed carefully
to facilitate this.
The regulations must also be streamlined so that the
businesses stay healthy.
By businesses, Clinton said, he did not mean large
corporates alone. Small businesses have an equal role to
play in driving the national economies.
For instance, he said, in the U,S the small businesses
invariably created more jobs than the large corporates.
“During every year of my presidency the small businesses
created more jobs than the larger ones. In fact, some of
the large business conglomerates in the US including
Intel and FedEx had humble beginnings.
“They started very small,” he told the conference at the
Clinton said in a vibrant economy there would be a large
middle class with a lot of consuming potential. The
countries in the region must create opportunities for
entrepreneurship and new jobs.
More women also must be in the workforce. Their
contribution to individual economies cannot be
undermined, he said.
Clinton also called for fixing minimum wages and
providing benefits to the unemployed including insurance
The former US president stressed the need for training
people in business management. It is very important.
Business education and exposure to IT were essential for
All said and done, he said, political instability could
doom businesses. A case in point is Palestine.
“During my presidency some 600 American businessmen
including those of Arab and Jewish descent had agreed to
invest in Palestine soon after the 1993 accord between
Israel and Palestine on the lawns of the White House.
But subsequently none of them came forward apparently
due to fears about protection for their investments,” he
Clinton said more investments and partnerships were
required in many Middle East countries if their
economies had to move ahead. In order to create room for
such investments and partnerships, political stability
He said dialogue was essential to remove misgivings, if
any, between the Middle Eastern countries and the region
and the rest of the world.
“Two years ago, I had the privilege to attend a
conference here in which many leaders including Pervez
Musharraf spoke. The dialogue was healthy. We were
expected to talk and not fight, think and not shout and
build and not to tear down. Precisely, we did that,”
Making a special mention of Qatar’s leadership position
in liquefied natural gas processing and marketing, he
said the State must also see whether it would be
feasible to generate energy from other non-polluting
sources such as wind and hydel power.
In the context of rising global awareness on
environmental pollution, this makes sense, Clinton