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Closer Arab cooperation vital to regional development: Prince Turki

Nov 25

Closer Arab cooperation vital to regional development: Prince Turki

Regional stability important in dealing with the economic, social and political challenges.

Closer cooperation between Arab nations is the key to the region's economic growth and development, and an important aspect in the fight against terrorism, a top Saudi Arabian official said here on Saturday.

Speaking at a press conference to announce policy recommendations of the Beirut Institute Summit in Abu Dhabi, Prince Turki Al Faisal, Beirut Institute Summit co-chair and chairman of the King Faisal Centre for Research and Islamic Studies, said regional stability is vital in dealing with the economic, social and political challenges facing the Arab world.

'Arab nations need to work closely in the fight against terrorism so as to promote peace and stability in the region,' said Prince Turki.

'The Arab region continues to face the challenge of sectarian divisions fuelled by actors increasingly skilled at manipulating narratives to sow dissent and fragmentation. Regional leadership - political, religious, civil society, and private sector - must take it upon themselves to drive towards a more inclusive and tolerant future for the region.

'This vision must feature respect for tolerance and moderate Islamic values, youth participation, and women's empowerment, guided by visionary regional leadership focused not only on national advancement, but on engagement and integration across the Arab region.'

The Beirut Institute and A.T. Kearney's National Transformations Institute yesterday issued a substantive report titled 'Constructing the Arab Region's Engagement in the Emerging Global Future'.

The report presents innovative policy recommendations from the senior global and regional policy-makers, thought leaders and next generation innovators following the Beirut Institute Summit Edition II which took place in Abu Dhabi in May 2018.

With the goal of accelerating the positive transformation of the Arab region, the report offers a policy roadmap around which regional leaders can potentially align.

The recommendations highlight the importance of accelerating economic integration and investment in the region, embracing technology and the empowering its people including women and the youth.

Prince Turki said the purpose of the summit was to collaboratively generate frank, innovative and compelling insights regarding the specific ways in which the Arab region can most effectively construct its engagement in the emerging global future in the highest interest of all of its people.

Raghida Dergham, Beirut Institute Founder and Executive Chairman, said: 'The unique value of this policy roadmap is a function of the remarkable expertise and experience of the summit participants and the richly collaborative dialogue to which they contributed. The recommendations focus on how such collaboration can lead the acceleration of the Arab region's ongoing transformation.'

The report recommendations defined five fundamental strategic imperatives; strengthen the forces of order, accelerate connected regional economic development, promote whole-of-nation good governance, empower the diverse people of the Arab Region and embracing a technology-fuelled future.

Need for a new institutional foundation for integrated stability

According to the report, within the Arab region, there is a clear need for a new institutional foundation for integrated stability. And that while legacy regional institutions and the UN have important roles to play, a sustainably stable regional order requires a new structure composed of Arab nation states that can drive meaningful strategic alignment and integration

'Building on the recently deepened partnership between Saudi Arabia and the UAE, this new alliance should include, but not be limited to security cooperation including in integrated missile defence to counter the growing ballistic missile threat, maritime navigation, military training, counter terrorism and longer-term efforts to counter extremism,' said the Beirut Summit report.

'Just as important, this new institution should also accelerate the strengthening of cooperation on political and diplomatic issues and drive deeper economic integration, including alignment of the geo-economic instruments of power to maximize their aggregate effect.'

The report also said that key to countering the extremist narrative deployed by Islamist militant groups is combating the myths and stereotypes in which that narrative is grounded, including with respect to the role of women and the value of scientific exploration.

'There is a role for traditional institutions of Islamic teaching, such as Al Azhar, in this effort, and such institutions should be better resourced to this end. In addition, recognizing the success of Daesh in leveraging social media to spread its message and attract and recruit foreign fighters, there is an urgent need to empower and enable new institutions, such as the Global Center for Combatting Extremist Ideology (Etidal), that use digital platforms to reach a broader, younger audience and engage this community in a dialogue on the role of Islam in shaping a positive future for the region,' said the report.