(MENAFN - The Peninsula) doha • Global experts discussing the future of the Middle East's economy at a conference here yesterday called on the GCC states to talk directly to Iran and the US in a bid to resolve the problems facing the region and help restore peace.
Since peace holds the key to energy security and the future of the Middle East, which sits on 75 per cent of the world's proven oil reserves, it must be achieved at all cost, the experts noted. The Gulf countries should take a lead and initiate dialogue with Tehran and Washington on the Iranian nuclear issue and the crisis in Iraq.
One of the experts, Abdul Wahab Al Qassab, from Strategic Studies Centre, Defence Ministry of Qatar, said that a pre-condition to bring peace in the region is that Arabs and Iranians should develop a consensus on issues facing the region and Arabs should not interfere in any friction between Iran and the US.
A number of panel discussions were held at the concluding day of the three-day 'Enriching the Middle East's Economic Future' at the Ritz-Carlton yesterday. Among the topics discussed were the new Asian role in the Middle East, the energy scene in the Middle East in global perspective and regional security and the US. Later, special panels took up these issues for a threadbare discussion and a concluding session on 'perspective and future implications' was held.
Addressing one of the sessions, S C Tripathi, former secretary at India's petroleum ministry, said that much of the demand for natural gas is to come from India and China, the emerging markets in Asia, over the next two decades.
The demand was 12 trillion cubic feet in 2006, a figure which is expected to multiply three-fold by the year 2025. India, China, Japan and Korea will together require 37 million barrels a day of oil by 2020, leaving North America behind with a figure of 35 million barrels. The four Asian nations will have the largest share in the world consumption of oil by that year 2020, said Tripathi.
William Cattan, partner, Patton Boggs LLC, said while talking of the Middle East energy scene, that since the world demand for energy is tipped to grow leading to a wider supply-demand gap, this region with massive reserves will continue to play a key role.
But another expert, Pierre Noel, from Cambridge University's Judge's Business School, did not agree and cited figures to show that Saudi Arabia's share in the US market (the largest consumer in the world) was declining. He, however, added that in retrospect, the Middle East oil production post-1990 has been stable.