Respected Hon’ble Justice A. M Ahmadi, Hon’ble Mr P. Chidambaram, Hon’ble Dr. Anwar Ibrahim, Hon’ble Mrs. Sheila Dikhsit, Hon’ble Shaikh Yusuf Jasim Al-Hijji, Dr. Abdulelah Almoayyad, Mr. S.P Shukla distinguished delegates from the Arab world, honourable members of the press, dear friends and colleagues...
It is truly a rare privilege and honour for me to be welcoming all of you to the inaugural session of this 2-day conference that has brought dignitaries and delegates from the Arab world and India together.
No doubt this conference marks a major convergence of economic and socio-cultural relationships... it’s also a bridging together of minds and hearts. It is, without doubt, a significant sign of our times...reflecting our perceptions and aspirations in a changing world.
All of us who have gathered here are recognizing the challenges that the 21st century is throwing before us: across the world new political and economic equations are being forged at a time when the forces of globalization are unifying and bringing us together at other levels.
We are all being equally affected, sometimes adversely, by political and macro-economic environments of our regions. But we are convinced that the road ahead lies in ‘partnership’, in ‘development’, in creating consensus at all levels and not in generating discord or disunity. In India and the Arab world, we have to maximise the opportunities that globalization is creating to ensure that there is ‘inclusive and all-round’ growth in our regions.
I am proud, in my own humble way, to state that the Indo Arab Economic Cooperation Forum is recognizing the signs of these challenging times.
It is an endeavour of all of us who are acknowledging the immense economic and cultural opportunities that lie before India and the Arab world.
There is consensus emerging that India and the Arab world can build upon these historical ties...these current strengths together;
That we can utilize existing platforms for economic growth and give businesses a new direction and thrust;
That we can provide innumerable avenues for the younger generations for education and learning...so that with new skills, they become confident, competent global citizens who would feel integrated in this fast-changing world.
Countries, communities and individuals cannot be left out or alienated in these globalizing times; partnership, development, growth, integration are the guiding lights in our journey together.
As we deliberate, discuss and debate over the next two days on all economic, business and cultural issues, I would be looking forward to knowing from this august gathering on how the Indo Arab Economic Cooperation Forum can be empowered and strengthened in the years to come.
The Forum is vision-inspired to facilitate this partnership in development of India and the Arab world.
Throughout my travels in West Asia over the 20 years, I have found an enormous yearning in the Arab world to become an important partner in India’s continuing growth.
As our Hon’ble Prime Minister and Finance Minister have said, time and again, India is reaching out to the world...through this Forum, we are reaching out to the Arab world.
India’s mission, and the Forum’s mission, is to provide new platforms for development and growth ‘with a human face’.
We want the benefits of globalization, and this partnership with the Arab world, to positively impact the lives of millions of ordinary Indians and Arabs alike.
In the first decade of the 21st century, we are at a cusp of history; we are witnessing enormous growth in certain quarters and regions, and terrible deprivation and losses in others.
This inequality and inequity has to change...it has to be structurally changed and fundamentally transformed so that it is able to reflect the aspirations and expectations of a huge majority of people in our lands.
The Forum, with all its humility, is committed to the creation and sustenance of such a humane world. Where we can all generate more opportunities, more wealth and share it more... where we can be inspired to ‘do more’ and ‘achieve more’ not just in our regions but across our global village for those who are privileged, lesser-privileged and totally under-privileged.
It’s a huge task... but we have a sense of history and the guiding light of our religion that is making us champion this cause of partnership and development in India and the Arab world.
In India, we were fortunate to have Custodian of two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia as the chief guest during the Republic Day celebrations in January 2006. At a meeting, His Majesty said that India was like a second home to him.
Well, that is true for most Arabs.
So, I have the privilege and honour of welcoming all our delegates from the Arab world to their own home.