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Wharton Global Alumni Forum to discuss Middle East’s rising role in the changing global economy

Saudi Arabia: Tuesday, March 10 - 2009 @ 15:05

Organised by the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, the world’s first collegiate business school, the forum which will be held from March 11-12, 2009, will host up to 500 Wharton graduates from around the world.

His Excellency Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, UAE Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research and Chancellor of the Higher Colleges of Technology, will be the keynote speaker at the opening plenary session on March 11th.

Wharton School Dean Thomas S. Robertson said:

“The objective of the Wharton Global Alumni Forum, the first-ever in the Middle East, is to create a platform for global thought-leaders to discuss the challenges and opportunities in the current economic climate. As the oldest business school in the world, Wharton has experience and expertise on our side. We have the collective learning of our past academic experts, who have witnessed at least two global financial crises including the Great Depression. The lessons from witnessing these monumental economic upheavals are our capital – and we are sharing our experiences with Dubai at the forum.”

He added: “Every region has specific challenges and opportunities, and we want to develop a Middle East perspective on the global financial crisis and its aftermath through the forum. The new global economic order will be an era of stronger collaboration and the Wharton Global Alumni Forum will assist in strengthening the partnerships.”

Mr. Mohammed Alshaya, Chairman of the Organizing Committee, a Wharton graduate and Executive Chairman of M. H. Alshaya Co, said: “One emerging fact about the current economic crisis is that the world economic order, as we know it, is changing. What worked in the past will not be relevant any more and we already see the signs of change. The emerging markets of China, India and the Middle East are seeing an increasingly relevant role in the new economic order. We are entering an era of real partnerships and that will be the dominant theme of the Wharton Global Alumni Forum.“

The timing of the conference coincides with a number of economic trends such as regional governments trying to diversify their oil-based economies while instituting political, social and economic reforms, including privatization and liberalization. Even in the current climate, the regional GDP is projected to grow 4 to 5%, and the Gulf is today a powerful economic bloc with a combined GDP of over $1 trillion.

Wharton School Dean Thomas S. Robertson said: “This is the perfect time to discuss the region’s future path of growth, and how it can compete not only regionally but also on a global scale. The Wharton Global Alumni Forum with the theme ‘At the Crossroads for Global Economic Change’ will discuss entrepreneurship and education and the need for dynamic leadership and management, keeping in focus the region’s socio-economic trends.”

The event reflects Wharton’s growing interest in this region, as evidenced by, among other things, Wharton’s Arab Club – a non-political student club which aims to increase awareness of the economic growth in the Arab world and promote it as an emerging business centre within the Wharton community.

Speakers at the Wharton Global Alumni Forum, which will take place at the Grand Hyatt, Dubai, include Nabil Ali Al Yousuf, Director-General, The Executive Office of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum; Donald D. Humphreys, Senior Vice President and Treasurer, Exxon Mobil Corporation; Ammar Al Khudairy, CEO of Amwal Al Khaleej and Jeremy Siegel, the Russell E. Palmer Professor of Finance. The two-day forum will also host Wharton graduates and regional business leaders including Joe Saadi, Chairman, Booz & Co; and Sami Baroum, Managing Director, Savola Group.

Mr. Khalid Al Shafar, Marketing Director, Dubai Holding which is one of the lead sponsors for the forum, commented: “Dubai Holding’s vision of creating a better tomorrow is closely aligned with the aims of the forum. The outcomes of the discussions that will take place will help regional businesses chart a way through the turbulent currents of the economic downturn and ultimately enable them to take advantage of the opportunities that will emerge with the upturn.”

Mr. Fadi Arbid, Saudi Arabia Country Head, Executive Vice President, of Amwal Al Khaleej, also a lead sponsor, said: “The first and only private equity firm headquartered in Saudi Arabia covering all the MENA region, Amwal Al Khaleej is pleased to be a lead sponsor for the first-ever Wharton Global Alumni Forum to be held in the Middle East. Our support underscores Amwal Al Khaleej’s ongoing commitment to industry leadership in the MENA region.”

Other lead sponsors are Agility, M.H. Alshaya Co., and Booz & Co. Event sponsor is National Bank of Kuwait (NBK). Since 1993, The Wharton Global Alumni Forums have been held in world’s leading cities such as Shanghai, Mumbai, London and Paris.

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Tuesday, March 10- 2009 @ 15:05 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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