Last week, world stock markets moved nervously and cautiously as Japanese officials strove to prevent the collapse of Yamaichi Securities Limited, Japan's fourth largest broker firm, from spinning out of control into a wider financial crisis. The collapse was Japan's biggest business failure since the end of World War II. It was a difficult week for Japan's economy with Yamaichi collapsing; its failure was preceded by the collapse of Sanyo Securities Co. Limited and Hokkaido Takushoku Bank Limited a short time before.
The past few weeks have witnessed not a little turbulence in stock markets around the globe. From Hong Kong to Honolulu, the indicators have been unpredictable. Even the Gulf was not spared the ripple effect, however, the variations in our part of the world were not so sharp as in other areas. In the light of this, perhaps it is time for us to evaluate honestly investment within the GCC countries.
Opportunities exist and there are markets close at hand. If well-planned industrial units are set-up with investment coming from at home as well as abroad, I have no doubt that they will succeed. Of course, what we lack, and need, is modern marketing techniques. All the marketing techniques and expertise of modern business will come to naught if government assistance does not materialize. It must be forthcoming. For their part, Gulf governments are keen that private investors put their money into projects and industries that were previously wholly state-owned. A vigorous privatization drive is about to take off.
New rules, more flexible ones, are being made in order to attract investors and offer alluring packages. These will enable projects to move from drawing board to reality in record time.
There is, in addition, a growing awareness among businessmen, especially the younger ones, that the time has come to make the region economically viable so as to meet the harsh challenges of our ever-changing world. Only this new dynamism will keep us abreast. Gulf countries are now doing fairly well. In fact, the latest Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) report showed an 8.6% growth for the Kingdom. This itself is a factor for confidence which can itself be used as an enticing tool.
The need to take a look at the broad new realities from a professional point of view is the need of the hour. Gulf businessmen do not lack the vision or the tools to do so. Both vision and tools are needed to step into economic success.
|Let us work together for the overall development of our beloved country and region.|
It is gratifying to note the Saudi soccer team's qualification for the World Cup to be held in France in 1998. It was a culmination of efforts made by the Presidency of Youth Welfare.
It is not easy to qualify, especially from Asia, where, until recently there were only two berths. The Saudis, however, secured one. Admittedly Asian football is not yet on a par with Europe and Latin America but the emergence of countries like South Korea, Japan, China and the other Gulf countries as "football powers" made the Saudi team's victory more difficult. And more praiseworthy.
One can say, however, that what applies to football can apply to other things in life, sporting as well as non-sporting activities. It proves there is no dearth of talent among our young people who, if given the right opportunity, can excel and equal their counterparts anywhere in the world.
During my dealings with young people, I have found many who are fired by zeal and ambition to strive ahead and to achieve what others around them are trying to do.
Our young people in the Gulf and Saudi Arabia have been given a head start. They live in a society that provides many of life's necessities free of charge. While others worry about tuition and health fees, our young people have these things given to them. This should allow them to focus on their studies and concentrate on nothing else but to success. This is, in fact, not the case. Why not?
I think part of the answer lies with their parents. No amount of free "goodies" can bring success. There must be genuine effort and considerable hard work. Young people, naturally need coaching and guidance. It is here that the parents' role becomes important. Parents must teach them the difference between right and wrong as enjoined by Islam and instill in them ethics that will help them meet the challenges of the 21st century. That is the role of the parents. And I am sure we are not asking them too much.