Qatar Tribune

  • Subject : An interview with Dr. Talal Abu-Ghazaleh published in Qatar Tribune
  • Date : 27-May-2012
  • Text :

    Arab youth must be knowledge creators, says Abu-Ghazaleh


    DOHA DUBBED as an Arab accounting expert, Talal Abu-Ghazaleh, chairman and founder of the international Jordan-based organisation Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Organisation (TAG-Org) is a strong promoter of Intellectual Property in the Arab region. In 2009, he was appointed by the UN as Chair of the UN Global Alliance for ICT and Development. Recently, he was also appointed as an expert in the team of WTO multi-stakeholders consultation.

    Abu-Ghazaleh was in Doha to attend the Doha Forum which concluded recently.

    In an interview with Qatar Tribune, he discussed the Arab Spring, MDGs and the power of internet to shape the world, and praised the role of Qatar in organising international events, and as an independent actor with dynamic and distinct foreign policy.

    Speaking about the Arab Spring, he said, “I do not call what is happening in the Arab world as ‘spring’. Rather, I see it as renaissance. I have predicted long time ago what is now happening in the Arab world and that it would spread beyond the region because the world is overlooking the social effects of globalisation.

    Governments across the world should face a young generation with aspirations for freedom and desire to get jobs. The youth is questioning the process of globalisation and its impacts on the society.” According to Abu-Ghazaleh, the Millennium development objectives have so far failed to make any progress in developing countries. “ “The MDGs, as they are currently conceived, address the symptoms of poverty and underdevelopment, but mostly ignore the deeper causes. Instead of only vowing to support humanitarian objectives and putting money to eradicate poverty, the rich countries must recognise the urgency of removing those obstacles to development which they have the power to address. Each year, for example, developing countries miss out on $124bn in revenue from offshore assets held in tax havens. By not closing down such tax havens, we actively encourage corrupt elites in these countries to continue cheating their populations,” Abu-Ghazaleh said.

    “Moreover, the current system of international trade is deeply inequitable. It exposes developing countries to unfair competition, and discourages diversification of their economies. These countries face a burden of foreign debt — estimated at $500bn for poor countries — that is simply incompatible with the pursuit of development goals. Addressing these issues is vital for development objectives to have any chance to succeed. Yet, although ‘goal eight’ is to achieve a global partnership for development, and although some progress has been made on the debt issue, too little has been done to give this initiative a concrete meaning,” Abu-Ghazaleh said.

    “The world’s one billion hungry people do not deserve charity. They have a human right to adequate food, and governments have corresponding duties, which are enshrined in international human rights law. Governments that are serious about making progress on development objectives should be asked to adopt a legislative framework for the realisation of economic and social rights, such as the right to food or the right to health care. We need a new declaration of MDGs for the knowledge age whereby ICT is used as an enabler for achieving these objectives. Before that we need to confess that we have failed because the best way to solve a problem is admit the failure. The world actually underestimates the impact of information technology on development and achievement of MDGs,” added Abu-Ghazaleh.

    On the growing influence of knowledge ‘industries’, he said, “We had passed through the information era when information technology was born to establish the basic infrastructure. The world eventually moved to the knowledge age where this information is now used to create knowledge and accumulate wealth. As one can observe, the wealthiest organisations now are the knowledge organisations including Facebook, Google, Apple and Microsoft.

    These organisations are taking over the leadership from the old giant industries of cars, oil, banking and steel. So, the future is in the knowledge ‘industries’.” “The third stage which is much more important and the world are not there yet is the wisdom age. At this stage, knowledge is created for the benefit of humanity at large and unfortunately we are far from this stage. I think this stage would be triggered only when the world faces a big crisis and reminds us that anything invented should target the human being and not just for the sake of making wealth or anything else,” he added.

    Advising the Arab youth, he encouraged them to be “knowledge creators”.

    “I think the way to make the Arab world a better society is the business of the youth and my advice to the youth if they aspire to real democracy is to resort to the internet because it is the only place where there is really democracy. I think Arab youth should be much more aware of their heritage and get inspiration from their ancestors who invented many valuable things for the humanity and laid the foundation of knowledge for human civilization,” Abu-Ghazaleh concluded.