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Qatar Airways Successfully Hosts World Economic Forum Round Table

Doha, QATAR – Leading political, industry, academic and media figures from around the world have been in Doha for the World Economic Forum Arab Competitiveness Round Table, hosted by Qatar Airways this weekend.

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Doha has been the venue for the high-profile event, one of the biggest of the year in the Qatari capital.

Qatar Airways has played a key role in organising the event, flying delegates from around the world to Doha where the airline also laid on lavish dinners – including a Qatari Night Gala Dinner – and cultural entertainment showcasing true Qatari hospitality.

The Round Table brought together more than 200 global leaders from business, government, academia, society and the media to share their insights on commercial, political and economic developments in the region.

Government ministers, members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Arab Business League and leading figures from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank were joined by CEOs, managing directors and chairmen of major companies from the region, as well as political media commentators.

Also participating were Ambassadors representing many countries with consulates in Qatar.

The media was at the centre of attention during a working lunch, Arab Media: Reinforcing Prejudices or Catalysing Reforms? in which the explosion of pan-Arab media and its role as a catalyst for reform were discussed.

The Round Table was also the launch pad for the second Arab World Competitiveness Report 2005, which outlined issues of economic growth and regional competition. The Report highlighted the need for creating awareness among Arab business leaders and government officials to enhance competitiveness within the region and with rest of the world.

As a strategic partner of the World Economic Forum, Qatar Airways will host a second Arab Competitiveness Round Table in Doha in Spring 2007. The partnership also ensures Qatar Airways’ participation at other events organised by the Forum.

Qatar Airways has been gearing up for the high-profile event for several months with banners strewn across the Qatari capital promoting the Round Table.

Addressing delegates at the opening of the Round Table, Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said: “This is one of the most important events being held in Qatar this year and we are pleased to be able to host such a high-profile Round Table that has attracted top political, economic and academic minds from around the world.

“The Middle East has emerged into a powerful economic trading region and it is vital for business and political leaders to share their thoughts on how we can remain competitive and enhance our global competitiveness.

“Competitiveness is in all sectors of business life and as Qatar Airways, we are not immune to the pressures of competitive forces within the aviation industry.”

He added: “The world is waking up to the fact that the Middle East is opening up as a potentially powerful trading bloc.

As a trading region, we have not enjoyed the same benefits as Europe or North America or even Asia, but we must all believe in ourselves and see that we not only work together, but compete among ourselves and with rest of the world.

“The Middle East aviation industry is a clear cut example of how competition has helped strengthen economies and build traffic flow between countries.

“We are seeing aircraft manufacturers in Europe and America fighting to secure orders with the Middle East’s burgeoning airlines. Our airlines are winning the race for market share and giving airlines in rest of the world tough competition.”

Al Baker explained that Qatar Airways was strategically well placed to compete regionally and globally and was a successful example of determination and vision to create a thriving business.

He said Qatar Airways was pleased to have entered into a strategic partnership with the World Economic Forum designed to help establish Qatar as a pivotal policy centre in the Middle East.

Al Baker took part in one of the sessions, Creating An Investment-friendly Climate In The Arab Region, joining economic and political experts from around the world on the panel discussion.

He emphasised the need for regional governments to open up their economies and ease rules and regulations by offering incentives for the private sector that would in turn encourage start-up businesses and competition.

The opening session, entitled, What Will It Take for the Arab World to Catch Up in the Competitiveness Race? launched the Forum's first-ever competitiveness ranking of Arab world countries, in which growth prospects for nations in the region were identified. Qatar emerged firmly at the top of the table for its competitive status among 13 Arab countries surveyed.

Gender inequality is widely recognised for its negative impact on the economic growth and development of nations. This was the subject of a session, Women as Dynamic Agents of Change in the Arab World: A Vision for 2020 where various Arab countries addressed the issue.

Arab Free Trade: Are the Sceptics Right? was debated by delegates as they probed how countries in the region have been prevented from moving aggressively on the path towards liberalisation and free trade.

Labour market reform has become a critical issue for countries in the region with population growth pushing unemployment rates to some of the highest levels in the world. How governments can create labour market policies to boost job creation came under the microscope in the session, Diffusing the Unemployment Time Bomb.

Doha-based Qatar Airways will operate a fleet of 110 aircraft by 2013 – almost double the existing size. Qatar Airways has ordered 80 Airbus A350s, 60 Boeing 787s and 32 Boeing 777s, with deliveries of the latter having started in November 2007. The airline is a launch customer of the twin-deck Airbus A380 ‘super jumbos’ with five aircraft on order and scheduled for delivery from 2010. Qatar Airways moves to the New Doha International Airport in 2010, when the first phase of the new facility opens. For more information, visit www.ndiaproject.com

Qatar Airways is one of only six airlines in the world with a Five Star ranking for service and excellence awarded by Skytrax, the independent aviation industry monitoring agency. Skytrax also named Qatar Airways’ cabin crew as Best in the Middle East for the fifth year running in 2007 following a survey of more than 15 million passengers worldwide. For more information, log onto www.qatarairways.com

Qatar Airways Corporate Communications
Tel: +974 4496956, Fax: +974 4620132
E-mail: qrmedia@qatarairways.com.qa

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