Second Economic Freedom of the Arab World Conference
Mövenpick Hotel, Dead Sea, Jordan, November 22 to 23, 2007

Under the Royal Patronage of His Royal Highness King Abdullah II, policy makers, government officials, and business representatives from across the Middle East and around the world gathered at the Mövenpick Hotel on the Dead Sea, in Jordan in November 2007 to discuss how economic freedom can improve the lives of people living throughout the Arab world.

The two day conference was co-hosted by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation office in Jordan, the Young Entrepreneurs Association of Jordan, the International Research Foundation of Oman (IRF), and The Fraser Institute of Canada.

Her Excellency Suhair Al-Ali, Minister of Planning for the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, delivered the keynote address, in which she discussed the necessity for and challenges of reforms in Jordan.

His Excellency Salem Khazaaleh, Minister of Industry & Trade for Jordan attended the conference as the King’s representative.

Presentations on economic freedom and its benefits, entrepreneurship, globalization and income inequality, business regulation, and reforms in Jordan, Lebanon, and Egypt followed. The conference concluded with a thought provoking session on security versus liberty. The US Patriot Act, emergency laws in the Middle East and Asia, and terrorism acts in the EU are all based on the assumption that liberty and security are mutually exclusive. That is, the assumption is that we have to give up liberty to gain security. The session focused on a few examples of security laws in the Arab world and how to model and empirically test this hypothesis.

The highlight of the conference was the gala dinner and awards ceremony. On November 22nd at the Mövenpick Hotel on the Dead Sea, Arab countries that have made the most progress in providing their citizens with economic freedom were honoured during an awards ceremony hosted by the International Research Foundation (IRF) from Oman in association with The Fraser Institute. The Economic Freedom of the Arab World awards were based on the Economic Freedom of the Arab World report which measures economic freedom in the Arab nations.

The awards ceremony celebrated the achievements of those Arab nations that have persisted in their efforts to implement reforms and increase the level of economic freedom in their nations. The ceremony was also a reminder to those nations not performing well in economic freedom that improvements are possible and that they can learn from the experience of their neighbours.

The top performers in each of the five sub-categories of economic freedom were:

  • Lebanon for the Lean Government award;
  • Saudi Arabia for the Economic and Commercial Law award;
  • Lebanon for the Access to Sound Money award;
  • Qatar for the Freedom to Trade award; and
  • Kuwait for the Ease of Doing Business award.

Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates received recognition for the “Top Achievement in Economic Freedom” for their accomplishments in the overall level of economic freedom.

Today more than ever, the world, including the Arab nations, needs policies that lead to economic prosperity and job creation. The first step toward improvement is an objective measurement of those policies that create wealth. The Economic Freedom of the Arab World does exactly that. Furthermore, the index allows countries to see how their policies differ from those of more prosperous countries, so countries can see for themselves why they rank where they do, and how their ranking can be improved.

It is our hope that nations in the region will use the report as a roadmap for further reforms. Those reforms could not only increase economic freedom in the nations in which they are implemented, but could also create the jobs and prosperity necessary to improve the lives of citizens.

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