Doha, Qatar - Former President Bill Clinton, addressing the opening session in Doha of the international conference "Enriching the Middle East's Economic Future," co-sponsored by the Qatari government and UCLA's Burkle Center for International Relations, said, "If we get the strategy right on the politics of the region, we will have a very positive future in the Middle East."
Speaking before an international audience, including high-level delegations of private and public sector leaders from the Middle East and other Arab states, China, India, Japan, Israel, Europe and the United States, Clinton offered a blueprint for advancing economic and social development in the Middle East. He outlined a six point plan, including expanding infrastructural and capital investment in broad economic sectors; the development of regulatory structures to promote small business, job creation, economic diversity and the strengthening of the middle class; a system of ongoing investment in education to get more young people in school, increasing opportunities for university education and maximizing the intellectual capacity of the region, including getting more women into the workforce, especially in skilled jobs; guaranteeing more consumer capacity through the creation of minimum wage policies and unemployment insurance; and expanding the capacity of countries to offer business education.
Clinton commended the government and citizens of Qatar for their innovative efforts to develop new economic approaches through their investment in education partnerships with institutions around the world at the Qatar Foundation's Education City. He also commended his co-panelist, His Excellency Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabr Al-Thani, first deputy prime minister and foreign minister, for Qatar's regional and global leadership, in developing new economic alternatives in the energy sector, especially liquefied natural gas (LNG).
"I believe the Middle East can be not just the global oil leader in the 21st century, but also the global energy leader," through innovating and investing in energy alternatives such as LNG, as well as wind and solar energy, Clinton said.
Dr. Steven Spiegel of UCLA's Burkle Center said, "All of us at UCLA are very pleased to have had the opportunity to share ideas and learning at our conference's opening session with President Clinton and His Excellency Sheikh Hamad about international cooperation to promote economic development in the Middle East."
The Conferences Organizing Committee at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs organizes the following conferences annually: "The U.S. Muslim World Forum," "A Dialogue Between Religions," "Democracy, Development and Free Trade" and "NATO and Security in the Gulf."
The Ronald W. Burkle Center for International Relations is an integral part of the UCLA International Institute, which provides the highest quality policy analysis on the most pressing problems on the global geopolitical landscape that affect American foreign policy. The center's work includes research, teaching, and public outreach and service on the contemporary world and the role of the United States in global security, military, political, social and economic affairs. For more information on the Burkle Center for International Relations and the conference visit our Web site at http://www.international.ucla.edu/bcir/doha/.