Peace to Prosperity workshop: Proper planning key to success: Saudi minister

Saudi Minister of State Mohammed Al-Shaikh (C) arrives for the second day of a US-sponsored Middle East economic conference in Manama on Wednesday. — AFP

MANAMA — Saudi Arabia's minister of state said that an economic plan presented by White House senior adviser Jared Kushner for the Palestinian territories could succeed since it includes private sector and if “there is hope of peace”.

“I truly believe it can be done if people do believe that it can be done,” Mohammed Al-Sheikh said at an economic summit in Bahrain to encourage investment in the Palestinian Territories.

“And the way to make the people on the ground believe is give them hope that this will be sustainable, that this will be everlasting and that ultimately there will be prosperity and there will be sustained development,” Al-Sheikh added.

The younger population and proper planning is “essential” to creating economic prosperity in the West Bank and in Gaza, Al-Sheikh said during a panel discussion at the ‘Peace to Prosperity’ workshop in Bahrain on Wednesday.

“If you look at the demographics in the region they are very close, it is a young population. The young population looks at the world differently since they are connected on their apps and they live off these phones and the way you do business is different,” he said.

The panel, titled “Unleashing Economic Potential”, focused on one of the pillars of US senior White House adviser Jared Kuschner’s Middle East peace plan which is meant to provide an economic pathway forward to resolve the political issues between the Palestinian Authority and Israel.

Asked by moderator Richard Sandler, the director of the Milken Institute, about how Saudi Arabia can be used as a case study to unleash the economic potential of Gaza and the West Bank, Al-Sheikh said that the Kingdom spent “significant time on planning.”

“The Kingdom looked to diversify the economy and carry out the structural changes to be less reliant, as a government, on oil revenue. It requires a real commitment and hard work and buy in from everybody,” he said, adding that small-to-medium enterprises are also at the front and center of the Kingdom's Vision 2030.

“With this plan trying to connect the countries in the region and not focusing on one small area I think is very important because there is greater opportunity and potential if all the countries that are part of the plan are connected economically,” he added. — Agencies