Wharton Global Alumni Forum panel discusses challenges and opportunities in education, media and culture

United Arab Emirates: Thursday, March 12 - 2009 @ 12:20

Progressive education that enables individuals to think creatively and critically and powers innovation, the experts said, is the only way to meet the Arab world’s challenge of creating 100 million new job opportunities in the region by 2020.

“The returns on investment in education is felt only much later, but these investments will build the nucleus of our region,” said Ms Najla Al-Awadhi, Member of the UAE Federal National Council and Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Media Incorporated. “Education will subsequently fuel media and culture.”

Addressing queries from the audience, she said that the UAE guideline not to retrench Nationals from the private sector workforce is not an excuse for inaction. “There are strict conditions to the law, and it is in now way telling the UAE nationals to the lazy at the workplace. If they have a record (for poor performance) they can be released from the job.”

She also said that the UAE is not trying to emulate the Western idea of freedom of press. “Our country is only 37 years old and we are part of a tough neighbourhood. The critics (of the Media Law) are not being fair to the Government of the UAE, which is trying to develop and balance the media. We are not against freedom of the press but we are for responsible freedom that will not disrupt the social order.”

Al Awadhi said that the previous law on media was a “really bad one. Despite that, we had a flourishing media and there was no history of jailing journalists. We have come a long way, and there is a gradualism in everything.”

The panel discussion was moderated by Professor N. Bulent Gultekin, Associate Professor of Finance, The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Other panelists included Abdlatif Y. Al-Hamad, Director General and Chairman of the Board of Directors, Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development; Abdulaziz Ibrahim Al-Mahmoud, Chief Editor, Al-Arab newspaper; Nabil Ali Alyousuf, Director-General, The Executive Office of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum; and Sir Paul Judge, Chairman, Schroder Income Growth Fund Plc, London.

The Wharton Global Alumni Forum will conclude on March 12, and is being held at Grand Hyatt, Dubai. Lead sponsors are Agility, M. H. Alshaya Co., Dubai Holding, Amwal Al Khaleej and Booz & Co. Event sponsor is National Bank of Kuwait (NBK).

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Thursday, March 12- 2009 @ 12:20 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.

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