THE 11TM DOHA FORUM HELD IN QATAR (9-11 MAY) brought together government officials, experts and dignitaries from around the world to discuss 'Democracy, development and free trade'. In his opening speech, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Crown Prince of Qatar, introduced the new and vital playerin global politics: Arab public opinion.
This "new kid on the block" was to dominate, not surprisingly, the lively debates that ensued. Sheikh Tamim warned that justice does not come on the back of tanks and argued that replacing despotic regimes with colonial powers was not an adequate solution: "Our Arab people are the ones making this new era historic. The Palestinian cause is the cause of all Arabs and not just a slogan it is also a major factor in the stabilisation of the region and a major cause of violence."
The Forum emphasised how the search for dignity and freedom in the Arab world has resulted in the irreversible 'Arab Spring'. The events that started in Tunisia, followed by Egypt, created a true political tsunami in the region. Little did Tunisian martyr Mohammed Bouazizi know what his act would lead to! However, as highlighted by several of the speakers, while social media enabled the speedy communication amongst 'Generation C', the connected youth of today, it did not create the revolution; it only facilitated its inception. The youth deserve the credit for its growth. The new global conversation, however, will also help to generate a new leadership equation, where new technology brings with it new solutions.
Need for change
Business leaders, creative thinkers and political leaders can all bring solutions to the new emerging world. According to Khalid Abdulla-Janahi, CEO of Dar Al Maal, "There is a need for leadership in the Arab world, not 'rulership'. Oppression, suppression and repression should be ousted. There are freedom values to be established in order to support the revolution against the despotic regimes. Critical thinking has notbeen encouraged in this part of the world. We must learn from our lack of leadership; meritocracy must be encouraged, as envy can be a destructive ruler." This was a concept that was to be reiterated by many other participants.
The Arab youth of the GCC is sometimes perceived as shallow and luxury goods-led; the recent events have demonstrated that it is freedom, not gold-encrusted mobile phones, they crave. Eric Raoul, a former French minister, hailed Qatar's modernity, whilst stating "It is a new...