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ElBaradei and an Arab renaissance plan

I wish we would listen to ElBaradei and bring together Arab specialists in economy, development and technology to discuss a renaissance plan for the Arab world

Jamal Khashoggi

Published: Updated:

We are still far from ending the conflicts in Syria, Yemen and other countries, but we are on the right path. So is it the right time to talk about a renaissance project that, after all these wars end, can push the Arab world toward a reality different than that prior to the start of the Arab Spring in 2011? According to Dr Mohammed ElBaradei, we must do so.

The Nobel Prize winner has been extremely frustrated because despite his attempts to make his country Egypt a better place, he was accused of treason by both sides of conflict in his home country . Haunted by images of death the pain of unfulfilled promises, he sees what is happing there as a reflection of the struggles across the Arab world.

“I have everything I need, but I know for a fact that millions of Arabs and Egyptians dream of coming to Europe, even as refugees. This isn’t a fair choice,” he said last week as we headed to his favourite restaurant in Vienna.

I wish we would listen to ElBaradei and bring together Arab specialists in economy, development and technology to discuss a renaissance plan for the Arab world.

Jamal Khashoggi

Recounting his experience at Google’s Zeitgeist events - a series of intimate gatherings of top global thinkers and leaders - which he attended few weeks ago, he said he felt like the Arab world was the fuel tank being detached from the a space racket that fly high into space while fuel tank fall back to earth with no significant , abandoned fuel tank .

Saudi leadership?

ElBaradei said Saudi Arabia should lead a plan toward an Arab renaissance because it is a stable country. However, he has not lost hope in Egypt. Last week’s agreement on a coordination council between the two countries is good news to him.

However, he said this coordination was only linked to the military and investment fields, but to achieve renaissance, three major plans were needed: to reform education, to reform healthcare, and to spread tolerance by the rule of law. This is how Japan, China and Singapore achieved their renaissances.

I told him I did not expect Saudi Arabia to begin working on a renaissance project now. “So what will happen next?” asked ElBaradei. Do we go back to the way it was before the Arab Spring? Do we go back to the phase of underdevelopment in all fields? We must understand that before the Arab Spring, the Arab world was in an extremely bad situation that is neither worth maintaining nor restoring.

Arab Marshall Plan?

During World War II, a group of American researchers and European scientists was commissioned to establish economic and political plans to make Europe a better place after the war. Arabs must do the same to avoid restoring the circumstances that led to the collapses of 2011.

The Arab world should have paid more attention to the imminent danger when a U.N. human development report in 2000 highlighted the miserable situation of Arabs. There have been several reform attempts since.

An Arab economic summit was held for the first time, and a project for reforming the Arab League was presented. Late Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud called for an Islamic summit on sciences, and many countries and prominent Arab figures launched several renaissance projects.

Qatar opened branches of the best global universities. Saudi Arabia founded the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. These were great ideas, but Arab policies killed them.

We cannot escape from politics, or from searching for a formula for good governance. However, until then, I wish we would listen to ElBaradei and bring together Arab specialists in economy, development and technology to discuss a renaissance plan for the Arab world.

I do not think ElBaradei will be able to stay away from politics, but let us not listen to him as a politician, but as a scholar who is hurting because of what is happening in his beloved homeland.

This article was first published in al-Hayat on Nov. 14, 2015.
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Jamal Khashoggi is a Saudi journalist, columnist, author, and general manager of the upcoming Al Arab News Channel. He previously served as a media aide to Prince Turki al Faisal while he was Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States. Khashoggi has written for various daily and weekly Arab newspapers, including Asharq al-Awsat, al-Majalla and al-Hayat, and was editor-in-chief of the Saudi-based al-Watan. He was a foreign correspondent in Afghanistan, Algeria, Kuwait, Sudan, and other Middle Eastern countries. He is also a political commentator for Saudi-based and international news channels. Twitter: @JKhashoggi

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