At the 9th World Islamic Economic Forum
29 October 2013
In the name of God, the Most Merciful, the Compassionate,
Thank you all. Allow me to thank our eminent Malaysian colleagues, for their leadership in bringing this outstanding group together. I know I also speak for all of us, when I thank our British friends and hosts for their warm welcome.
If we have learnt anything about global economics in the past two decades, it is this: Globalisation does not mean uniformity. "Best practice" does not mean single-minded thinking. Partnerships serve every partner, or they are not partnerships at all. At this Forum, I hope you will spearhead new ties, new ways of doing business, and new best practices, for a new era of truly inclusive growth.
All Muslims around the world can, and must, share in global productivity and prosperity. This requires economic vehicles of every size, from global alliances to Small and Medium Enterprises. We must actively engage the young men and women who are the heart and the power of our future. The business world must make it a priority to answer the needs of young people everywhere, for jobs, good jobs, secure futures and the opportunity to excel.
This is vital in my region. Today we are seeing turbulence, some very serious, but we are also seeing great hope, and tremendous new opportunities. As we work together for an end to regional conflict, to solve the Syrian tragedy, to create peace and a Palestinian state, we must also begin shaping the better future our people deserve.
Jordan has already begun. For us, political and economic reform go hand-in-hand. We recognize that the single-most powerful generator of inclusive growth and jobs is a real partnership, drawing on the strengths of the private sector, public sector, and civil society. And we in Jordan are committed to working with businesses and investors, to open the doors of opportunity and keep them open.
Islamic finance and banking has a vital role. Jordan is proud to have been among the first homes of modern commercial Islamic banking. In 2012, Jordan’s parliament passed a new legislation regarding Sukuk. This will serve as a framework for Islamic finance to take root and grow, providing new mechanisms for financing government, SMEs, and other enterprise, and helping to alleviate poverty.
In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, Islamic banking has proven more resilient and more secure than conventional methods, and it has grown tremendously. But there is still huge untapped potential for Islamic banking and Islamic finance in our region. Jordan is committed to help realize that promise.
I am proud that despite recent global crises and regional turmoil, our country remains a resilient and safe haven, for our people and our partners. Just a few weeks ago, international financial institutions reaffirmed their confidence in Jordan's stability and good growth outlook. They have praised Jordan's progress in the face of outside shocks, and our commitment to our national reform program.
We are determined to keep leveraging Jordan's strengths. First and foremost are our people: talented, educated, tech-savvy and globally aware. Jordan also has a unique geo-strategic position, in the heart of the Levant, making us a strategic platform to the GCC and wider MENA region, and a global East-West hub. Free-trade agreements with major economies give access to over one billion consumers. Jordan is simply the place to be, when you need a manufacturing base and outsourcing center; a distribution and assembly gateway; a back office and consulting hub; or a base for infrastructure and reconstruction projects in our MENA region.
We also have a regulatory environment aimed at helping opportunity grow: with attractive incentives, economic development zones, business parks, industrial estates, free zones, and more. And the opportunities are ripe: in ICT and professional services, financial services and engineering, agro-industries and tourism, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, education, and more. We also have significant mega projects, in water, energy, transport and other infrastructure.
In all these areas, and many more, you will find Jordan, its companies, and its people to be ideal partners in a prosperous future. I hope you will meet many of our representatives and companies here this week. And I invite you to visit Jordan and explore the opportunities and platforms we provide.
This Forum recognizes the creative drive, and the forward-looking enterprises, that make up the Islamic economic world today. Billions of consumers, of every faith and region, can benefit from the partnerships you make here. I wish you every success.