As a main hub on the Mediterranean, Marseilles is a gateway to Europe, as Sharjah on the Indian Ocean is a gateway to the countries of the oil-rich Gulf Cooperation Council. Both Sharjah and Marseilles were awarded honors for preserving and adapting rich cultural heritages as anchors in the sea of liquid modernity brought about by globalization. The Forum saw first-hand the splendors of Sharjah›s historical heritage in 2012, and will experience Ma rseilles as this year’s venue.

The MENA Economic Forum 2013 convenes to explore modus operandi and solutions in the post-recession aftermath of laggard growth. High on the list is stimulating economic development in MENA and Southern Europe to integrate youthful workers. Sustainable growth in an era of contracting resources requires the fine-meshing of solutions with the strong traditional cultures focused on family and community. Strategic decision -makers from both regions will consider ways to enhance human infrastructure through financing start-ups, family business, innovation in education, and high-tech ways to disseminate new business models throughout all levels of society and well into to the grassroots level.

Inspired by Marseilles’s building bridges throughout the Mediterranean basin, the MENA Economic Forum was launched in 2011 to forge partnerships between Europe and Arab countries. A second iteration of the Forum was held in Sharjah, the United Arab Emirates, in 2012, which confirmed the Forum as an internationally recognized model of cross-cultural dialogue and cooperation. The Organizing Committee opted to hold this year’s Forum in Marseilles on November 7-8, 2013 within the context of celebrating “Marseilles European Capital of Culture” and the honoring of the Emirate of Sharjah as the capital of the Islamic World.

By gathering European and Arab leaders and decisionmakers together yearly, the Forum’s main objective continues to be the development of capacity-building foundations for an enduring stability and prosperity in the region. This goal is to be achieved through the building of local and regional partnerships in such strategic fields as culture, education, and capacity-building training for new generations.

At a time of monumental transformations in the Arab world, as Europe continues in unprecedented economic crisis, the MENA Economic Forum provides both public and private stakeholders an opportunity to collectively reflect on how to achieve sustainable growth and development. The Forum thus will afford a highly propitious vehicle for the business communities of our respective regions to exchange economic views through dialogue and networking, so that mutually beneficial business collaborations may be created to tackle the problems with real solutions in mind. We welcome you to this dynamic interactional economic forum.

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