GCF Conference Puts Spotlight on Challenges Posed by a Borderless World

  • Conference hosted by Doha Bank emphasizes the need to close development gaps by promoting equitable and inclusive growth
  • H.E. Dr. Nassir Abdul-Aziz Al-Nasser officially releases his new book as part of the conference

Doha, January 15, 2014: Top corporate and community leaders gathered in Doha yesterday (Wednesday, 14 January) to discuss the challenges and opportunities presented by global economic integration and examine strategies for inclusive growth at a conference hosted by Doha Bank at the Four Seasons Hotel, Doha. Titled “Economic Integration Towards A Borderless World”, the conference was organized under the auspices of the Global Citizen Forum (GCF). The event was attended by H.E. Sheikh Abdul Rehman Bin Mohammad Bin Jabor Al-Thani, Managing Director of Doha Bank.The cross-industry conference was presided over by distinguished Qatari diplomat H.E. Dr. Nassir Abdul-Aziz Al-Nasser, UN High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations and former President of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), whose new book – “A Year at the Helm of the United Nations General Assembly” – was officially unveiled during the event by giving the first copy to Doha Bank Managing Director H.E.Sheikh Abdul Rehman Bin Mohamed Bin Jabor Al-Thani.

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Dr. R. Seetharaman, Group CEO of Doha Bank, delivered the opening keynote address at the conference. Commenting on the growing integration of the world economy, Dr. Seetharaman cited the example of the 2008 global economic crisis to underline the increased interrelationships and interdependence between peoples, businesses and countries in the modern world. “When the 2008 crisis surfaced, governments thought they could fix the issue by improving liquidity. As a result, billions of dollars were pumped into the market to stimulate growth and lift global economies out of the doldrums. What happened instead was, the liquidity crisis moved into a funding crisis, the funding crisis became a solvency issue, which then turned into a sovereign issue. And six years since, we are realizing that sustainable growth is still not visible.”

He added, “If we are to sustain global growth, we have to define ways and means of building global partnerships, and must proactively realign – in the currency market, in trade, in banking, in finance. We must come together, not only in politics and economics, but as individuals and societies. The world is full of opportunities if we recognize that it is borderless. We have challenges of food security as the global population is expected to grow in future. Gender equality, Child health care and education are also areas which require attention. Taking into the current situation the Global citizen-ship is the solution”

Addressing the audience following the official launch of his book, which chronicles his memorable stint at the head of the UNGA, Dr. Nassir Abdul-Aziz Al-Nasser stressed on the strong correlation between socio-economic development and economic integration. “Economic integration can bridge the gap between artificial and geographical frontiers, foster stronger economic development and advance enhanced social standards.”

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Pointing to Doha Bank’s success in promoting sustainable development and social transparency and ethics, Dr. Al-Nasser said, “The example of Doha Bank demonstrates that the private sector can invest in fields such as education and health and increase its financial profits. When businesses value their impact through a strong culture of corporate social responsibility, they contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life for men, women and communities.”

Emphasizing the need for governments to toe a delicate line between protecting markets and creating a lucrative business environment, Preeti Malhotra, Executive Director of Indian business conglomerate Smart Global, pointed to the Middle East as a good example of economic development. “Governments in the Middle East, particularly those in the Gulf region, allow expatriates and international conglomerates to thrive, whilst preserving the cultural identity of their respective countries,” Malhotra said.

She added, “The path to true economic integration lies in benchmarking best practices in business and social governance, and analyzing and implementing these practices across the globe to create a common economic code and a common socio-legal standard. Unified economic zones, with one common regional currency, can also play an important role; creating such zones would simplify the denominations available in the market, which in turn would simplify trade.”

Quoting the ancient Sanskrit phrase “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” (The World is One Family), H.E. Sanjiv Arora, Ambassador, Embassy of India in Doha, noted that India’s over-5,000-year-old civilization has always propagated the concept of universal brotherhood. Speaking on the threat posed by terrorism to the world community, he said, “Terrorism is undoubtedly the modern world’s greatest challenge; we have to constantly intensify our domestic national efforts as also take concerted further measures to substantially strengthen international cooperation to fight the scourge of terrorism. There cannot be selective approaches to terrorism.”

Dr. Mehran Kamrava, Director of the Center for International and Regional Studies at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, Doha, shared his insights on the challenges and opportunities presented by globalization. “Globalization entails the flow of dynamics that are inherently contradictory. The dynamics of globalization are at once empowering and disempowering. Globalization has enabled us to have immediate access to developments across the world, and has enabled the transmission across cultures of different values that have become universal. Yet, at the same time, globalization has resulted in the erosion of values, in the erosion of cultures, and has created individuals who have unstable identities, who feel terribly conflicted within themselves. And, as a result, we see the tremendous outbursts of violence across the world.”

Dr. Thomas Walsh, President of the Universal Peace Federation, an NGO in special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, gave an insightful talk on the role of nation states in an economically integrated world. “On the face of it, it would seem that the free market of a global economy is better off if nations were minimalistic or virtually non-existent. However, nation states perform very needed functions, and perhaps the most fundamental of all its functions is to preserve a space of security, order and rule of law.”

He added, “The challenges that need to be addressed and overcome as we venture toward a borderless world are complex, and involve matters not only of trade and commerce, but politics, ethnicity, religion, culture and ethics. At the core is the question of the maintenance of order, rule of law and a commitment to peaceful resolution of conflict. Global trade needs to be coupled with a global ethics, enforceable global law, and even global spirituality.”

Founded in 2013 by Dr. B. K. Modi, Chairman of Smart Global, Global Citizen Forum aims to promote Global Citizenship as a way of life and bridge the gap between artificial boundaries and the real world through technology. Held annually, the Forum brings together government agency representatives, distinguished speakers, philanthropists, as well as financial, legal and family office advisors, industry professionals, business leaders, high net worth individuals and celebrities.