NYT’s Freidman weighs in on global challenges
KUWAIT: There are three sets of challenges that countries should be ready to address today as the world has evolved at an everincreasing pace, said Thomas Freidman, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and columnist at the New York Times. He was speaking yesterday at a forum titled ‘The Word is Fast: How to Understand It and Thrive in it”, held at the Arab Fund headquarters in Shuwaikh.
Freidman said countries should address the challenges on the basis of experiences, since globalization is tying economies more tightly together, making workers, investors and markets increasingly independent and exposed to global trends. He said the digital revolution embedded Moore’s Law, according to which the speed and power of microchips will double every two years. He explained with recent examples how the increasing power of software computers and robots is requiring workers to rapidly raise their skills or risk losing their jobs.
Friedman also discussed the destabilizing consequences due to rapid population growth and shortsighted policies, discussing the implications of these challenges for the Arab world. In the area of globalization, he emphasized the pressing imperative of removing impediments to trade and flow ideas, enabling the development of the private sector and diversifying their production base, especially for oil producing countries.
Regarding the challenge of digital revolution, Freidman emphasized the role of education reform in equipping new generations of graduates and workers with new skills and strengthening an aptitude for continual and flexible learning. He also discussed ways in which Arab countries, especially the Gulf countries, could prepare to temper the impact of the economic and social impact of heat waves that are forecast to pose a serious threat to outdoor human life in a generation’s lifetime. Aptitude and social skills are still very well emphasized in many schools today, and this is very important, Friedman added.
The forum was organized by the IMF Middle East Center for Economics and Finance (CEF) jointly with the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development. Friedman was joined onstage by CEF Director Oussama Kanaan, while a considerable number of businessmen and people from all walks of life were present at the event.