Bahrain’s economy remains the most diversified in the Gulf, despite recent unrest, the Foreign Minister told the opening ceremony of the Third South American-Arab Summit yesterday (October 3).
It was opened in Lima by Peruvian President Ollanta Humala Tasso.
Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa told the summit that the past two years had been a challenging period for the kingdom. However, the economy continued to record growth, he said.
“Bahrain is confident that progress will strengthen our society and economy, enabling our people to reach their potential and achieve their aspirations in a bright and prosperous future. We appreciate the support of our friends in the Arab world and South America,” he added.
He said the 2012 Heritage Foundation Index of Economic Freedom and the annual report of the Fraser Institute rank Bahrain as the most economically free nation in the Middle East and North Africa region.
“We are also ranked the 35th most competitive country in the world in 2012, according to the Global Competitiveness report of the World Economic Forum.”
He said the forum must be energised by “common ties that bind us and inspired by our common will to bring closer our two regions and their peoples”
The summit and future meetings are the right forum to put in place concrete measures and develop real, deliverable plans for co-operation, he added.
“This is an important summit which we are confident will deliver real and tangible outcomes. We are convinced that an open and friendly political dialogue is important, and we appreciate your unwavering stance supporting the Palestinian cause.
“Given the spread of terrorist activities globally, we must all co-operate across national borders to combat this grave challenge by sharing information and ensuring that any country that harbours, assists or facilitates terrorism is held accountable.
“It is imperative that we work collectively to fight this evil that threatens all countries and all peoples; and which directly attacks the rule of law and human rights.
“We believe the forum can have value for both sides in helping deepen economic and cultural ties. We welcome the proposal to have diplomatic institutions of both regions co-operate and we would like to see youth exchanges as well.
“For this to happen, I believe we should consider establishing a more concrete and permanent mechanism to ensure that momentum is not lost between our summit meetings. Beyond meeting annually on the margins of the UN General Assembly, it would be valuable also to meet on a ministerial level midway between summits,” he added.