Doha, 6 March 2012 – Top-level representatives from over 20 national delegations, including six Heads of State/Heads of Government, 27 government ministers and leaders from some of the world’s most dynamic information and communication technology (ICT) companies are meeting this week in Doha to map out the policies and strategies that will unleash the next wave of market opportunities and growth across the Arab region.
Hosted by the State of Qatar under the patronage of the Emir of Qatar, the event will also serve as the platform for the announcement of a number of important ‘connectivity commitments’ from government, industry and academia, bringing together partners in new Arab-focused ICT projects that will help further accelerate deployment of networks, applications and services.
Heads of State and Heads of Government attending the summit included H.H. Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar; H.E. Mr Ikililou Dhoinine, President of the Union of Comoros; H.E. Mr Ismaël Omar Guelleh, President of the Republic of Djibouti and Head of Government; H.E. General Michel Sleiman, President of the Republic of Lebanon; H.E. Mr Omer Hassan A. Al-Bashir, President of the Republic of Sudan; H.H. Sheikh Hamad Bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, Member of the Supreme Council, Ruler, Emirate of Al Fujairah; H.H. Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al-Thani, Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar; H.E. Mr Abdelkader Bensalah, President of the National Council, Republic of Algeria; H.H. Sheikh Abdulla bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Personal Representative of His Majesty the King of Bahrain; H.H. Sheikh Sabah Khalid Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, Deputy Prime Minister of the State of Kuwait; and H.H. Sayyid Fahd bin Mahmoud al Said, Deputy Prime Minister for the Council of Ministers, Sultanate of Oman.
The event also welcomed 27 ministers and deputy ministers from Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen and the Palestinian Authority.
Delegates attending the official opening ceremony, held this morning at Doha’s Sheraton Resort and Convention Centre, were addressed by the Emir of Qatar, H.H. Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani; H.E. Dr Hessa Al-Jaber, Secretary General, ictQATAR; H.E. Dr Nabil Elaraby, Secretary-General, League of Arab States; Dr Hamadoun Touré, ITU Secretary-General; and Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute.
Over the next two days, they will join with close to 700 prominent experts from across the region and around the world in a series of high-level discussion panels and roundtables focused on five main conference themes:
•Access and Infrastructure
•Digital Content and Multilingualism
The full Connect Arab Summit programme is available at: www.itu.int/ITU-D/connect/arabstates/programme.asp?language=e
The Arab world is now one of the world’s most connected regions, but also encompasses countries where connectivity remains low by world standards. In addition, at just 2.2%, average fixed broadband penetration in the region is not yet on a par with regions such as the Asia & Pacific region (6.2%), the Americas (15.5%) and Europe (25.8%).
Speaking to delegates from the podium, ITU’s Dr Touré said a major priority for summit participants would be to develop strategies for replicating the ‘mobile miracle’ in the area of broadband.
“We are gathered in the wonderful city of Doha to build on the tremendous successes already achieved at ITU Connect Africa in 2007 and ITU Connect CIS in 2009,” said Dr Touré. “The slogan of this summit is ‘Build, Innovate, Empower’. It is my firm belief that this region will see the enormous synergies of a common language, a shared culture, and a ubiquitous drive for successful entrepreneurship come together to create extraordinary opportunities. This is a vibrant region, rich in human and material resources, and this summit represents a unique chance for leaders from government, from industry, and from the regional and international financial community to forge common strategies that assure mutual success.”
The Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau, Brahima Sanou, said the three-day conference would play an important part in fine-tuning ITU’s work priorities in the region going forward. “Active dialogue with all key players will help us deliver the best possible service to our Member States and private sector members. I look forward to the results of this Summit, and to translating these decisions into new business opportunities for the Arab world.”
The event also saw the launch of a new ITU statistics report on the state of connectivity in the Arab States region: ICT adoption and prospects for the Arab region 2012. An executive summary of the report is available at: www.itu.int/net/newsroom/connect/arab/2012/index.aspx.
The full report is available for download in English at www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/index.html. The Arabic version will be available shortly – please contact the ITU Press office at firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to receive an alert when this version is available.
View the live and archived webcast of this event at: www.itu.int/ITU-D/connect/arabstates/inc_information_display.asp?QID=8791&Language=en