After a warm welcome by Abdullatif Al-Hamad, Director General and Chairman of the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, Mr. Mohammed Al-Sabah, Former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, opened the proceedings of the conference “Understanding and Avoiding the Oil Curse in the Arab World” by framing the main topic of the discussion.
Ahmed Galal, Managing Director of the Economic Research Forum (ERF), underlined why ERF chose to focus on national resources under the RIAD Initiative. According to him, the Arab region is defined by oil, which matters not only for Arabs but also for the neighbouring countries through the impact of oil on remittances and capital inflows. This conference is based on the main outcomes of a major research project on “Understanding and Avoiding the Oil curse”, aiming at presenting the findings from the research to kickstart a vital debate on the topic.
Paul Collier, Professor of Economics, Director for the Centre for the Study of African Economies at the University of Oxford, underlined the importance of the theme to the region while addressing savings and investment decisions in natural resource rich countries. The presentation focused on two main points: Should policies be distinctive? How can the politics be got right? In the first regard, Mr Collier highlighted the need for what he calls “investing in investing”. “[It is] not just saving which is important, but what to do with the savings we have” he said. “Investing in investing” includes the following components: building capacity for public and private investment; building capacity for reducing the unit cost of capital.