Ladies and Gentlemen.
I am grateful to our partners at the Ministry of Finance and at Abu Dhabi Global Market for their kind hospitality and for hosting the launch of the World Bank's Gulf Economic Monitor.
Three months ago, the ADGM and the World Bank signed an agreement to establish a World Bank office in Abu Dhabi. Today, and right after this event, we will sign a new Memorandum of Agreement which will strengthen the partnership between the UAE and the World Bank and take it to the next level. So, let me say thank you to the UAE, and thank you to His Excellency Mr. Obaid Humaid Al Tayer, Minister of State for Financial Affairs, His Excellency Mr. Ahmed Ali AL Sayegh, Minister of State and Chairman of ADGM, and His Excellency Mr. Younis Haji Al Khouri, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Finance, and their teams for their efforts in moving this partnership forward.
The World Bank has been a strong partner with the Gulf Cooperation Council countries for over 50 years. Governments in Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have utilized the World Bank Group’s global
knowledge and development experience through our Advisory Services programs. Currently, the World Bank Group is supporting several GCC countries with achieving their national visions through making major reforms. The World Bank’s support includes improving the business environment and competitiveness, education, health, social, energy, transport, urban planning, transparency and governance, to name a few.
The national visions of GCC countries are well aligned with our broader vision of a new MENA region – a region that is dynamic and competitive; a MENA that is open for business.
While maintaining our focus on promoting peace, stability and regional cooperation, the World Bank Group’s new expanded strategy for MENA emphasizes the critical need of enhancing human capital, supporting innovation and new technologies, empowering women and young people, and enabling the private sector to create more jobs.
Today, we are launching the fourth edition of the World Bank’s seminal publication on GCC economies, the Gulf Economic Monitor. This report is published twice a year. It provides an update on key economic developments and challenges facing the GCC. It also includes a special focus section on a topic of interest and importance for the GCC.
This new issue of the report is titled “Building the foundations for economic sustainability: Human capital and growth in the GCC.” The report projects growth in the GCC to increase from 2.0% last year to 2.1% in 2019, before accelerating to 3.2% in 2020 and stabilizing at 2.7% in 2021. My colleague, Dr. Khaled AlHmoud will explain these recent developments, near-terms prospects, along with the risks to the region and the long-term challenges.
The second section of the report focuses on enhancing human capital, which is an important task to achieve successful and sustainable economic diversification and growth. Investing in Human Capital is a cornerstone of the World Bank’s strategy for the Middle East and North Africa. We are glad that three of the GCC countries, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE, are among the early adopters of the World Bank’s Human Capital Project, demonstrating their commitment to improving their human capital. As you will see in the presentation, adopting a holistic
governmental strategy to improving health and education outcomes will help accelerate human capital formation. My colleague, Dr. Sameh El-Saharty, will present to you today four approaches that can enhance human capital in the GCC.
Working closely with the GCC, we have seen strong political will to achieve country Visions, and have seen real, tangible outcomes on the ground. The reforms aim to diversify job creation and investment away from a historical dependence on hydrocarbons and their revenues.
I would like to congratulate the GCC governments for making steady progress on implementing major reforms to attract investors and boost competitiveness, to create private sector jobs specially for women and the youth of the region. But economic transformation is a long-term endeavor. It requires steadfast, predictable implementation. GCC countries must pursue their national reform agendas with patience and perseverance, and they must pay complementary attention to institution building and capacity development. While the road ahead is challenging, it is possible. The World Bank Group is committed to supporting the GCC countries in this journey.