Al Arabiya from Davos: Future of Arab economies

Al Arabiya’s Senior Business Presenter Lara Habib moderates a panel of Arab diplomats and the founder of Blockchain

Ismaeel Naar

Published: Updated:

Al Arabiya hosted a special panel on the future of Arab economies at the World Economic Forum in Davos which saw Senior Business Presenter Lara Habib moderate a discussion between Arab diplomats and the founder of Blockchain, the company responsible for introducing Bitcoin technology.

The discussion on Wednesday involved Tunisia’s Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, Egypt’s Minister of Trade and Industry Tarek Kabil, Founder of Blockchain Peter Smith and ‎Group CEO at Saudi Telecom Company Khaled H. Biyari.

“The region has one of the highest youth unemployment so the technical revolution is bringing automation and jobs will eventually be replaced by robots. But on the other side, new jobs will also be created but the youth will need to be prepared,” Habib told Al Arabiya English ahead of the panel discussion.

The discussion began when Habib asked the panel on what efforts are being done in their countries to facilitate the path toward the “Fourth Industrial Revolution,” which was the theme of the World Economic Forum this year.

“We believe in the digital transformation in Tunisia as it played a huge role in the revolution back in 2011. So we cannot ignore its influence on public life any longer,” Tunisia’s Prime Minister Youssef Chahed told Al Arabiya.

Tunisia has already started merging technology into public institutions when its national postal services announced plans to team up with startup connected with Blockchain, the company responsible for introducing digital currencies like Bitcoin.

Blockchain Founder Peter Smith was also on the panel and said that his company is excited to work with the Arab world as “the will power exists”.

“We plan on investing heavily in the Arab world and there is a willpower to take the big leap when it comes to taking charge of new technologies and introducing them to benefit their economies,” Smith said.

Saudi Telecom Company’s Khaled Biyari also chimed in, saying that focus on policies that facilitate digital transformations could not come any faster, especially for his country its neighbors.

“Saudi and other Gulf countries have been addictive to natural resources, so vision is to convert the focus on investment in technology,” he said.

Rounding off the panel was Egypt’s Minister of Trade and Industry Tarek Kabil, who said that Cairo has seen a huge drop in its tourism industry in recent years and that has forced them to review how they use technology from now on.

“One way Egypt is thinking about the future is introducing virtual reality, where for example someone from abroad can buy a ticket and visit the Egypt’s museums without having to ever visit the country physically,” he said.

“This will undoubtedly create future jobs in this industry,” Kabil added.

During the session, Al Arabiya introduced videos of people from across the Arab world, including young children who spoke of their future job aspirations that begged the panel to wonder how technology would affect them.

Watch the whole session below: