NYT’s Frei­d­man weighs in on global chal­lenges

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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