For the last ten years or so, year in year out, i have been privileged to be able to speak at each opening ceremony of the WIEF. On all these occasions, i must be the luckiest man to speak in front of distinguished world leaders and business leaders from all corners of the world. The business leaders represent different levels and varieties of businesses as well as coming from both the developed and developing worlds.
Today, again, i am privileged to welcome you all here in Kuala Lumpur, at this 11th World Islamic Economic Forum. I am particularly pleased and thankful to His Excellencies the Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia & Herzegovina, the Deputy Prime Minister of Azerbaijan, our very dear friend the President of the Islamic Development Bank. Also, thanks are due to the special envoy of the Prime Minister of Cambodia, and distinguished representatives of heads of governments of Kenya, Rwanda, Gabon, Ghana and Mozambique. We are indeed grateful to you, your excellencies for your presence.
I would also like to convey our special thanks to his excellency the prime minister of Malaysia for gracing this occasion and the government of Malaysia for its continuous support accorded to the WIEF. My appreciation would not be complete without recognising the presence among us today of the deputy prime minister of Malaysia as well as the very person who made these all happen, the former prime minister of Malaysia, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
Excelencies, ladies and gentlemen,
We are gathered here today in challenging times. I know that using the term “challenging times” may sound like a boring cliche. So, I would add another word, by saying that we are living in challenging and “trying” times. I say this because humanity is being challenged and on trial as never before in our quest for better lives. Indeed, looking at all corners of this very small world of ours, the quest for better livelihood is very fast turning into the quest for survival.
The causes and effects could be debated and discussed and analysed ad infinitum. The refugee crisis facing the west as well as south and south East Asia, the energy crisis that is reverberating downwards negatively to the core of the respective societies, falling economic growth and exchange rates, sectarian conflicts and natural disasters. Not to mention issues relating to corporate governance and matters related. These issues boggle our minds and put the human mind on trial as to how to face and find solutions.
Be that as it may, as far as the WIEF is concerned, the fundamental issues that we should concern ourselves relate to the economy and how we conduct ourselves in dealing with it. How governments conduct it, how corporations conduct it, how small and medium businesses conduct it, how institutions and even how individuals conduct the economy in businesses. Let us, then, apply our minds during the course of these few days.
The WIEF would have to continue to strive towards being relevant. We will continue to focus on the economy and business related issues, without distraction, be it political or religious. These, in turn, need to be based on positive priorities based on win-win collaboration. In this particular 11th edition of the WIEF, while touching on business matters of continuing interest, you will notice that we give special attention to small & medium enterprises. We don’t need to remind ourselves that in most countries SMEs make up more than 90% of the economy. In this regard, I am happy that the special SME business pavilion that is set up has drawn interest by quite a few countries.
Finally, your excellencies ladies and gentlemen, may i thank all the role players and members of the WIEF International Advisory Panel, both groups coming from near and far, for their invaluable contributions. Special mention is due for the young and women activists who make the WIEF the success that it is.
Last but not least, my personal heartfelt thanks go to the secretariat headed by the secretary general and the managing director for their patience, hard work and dedication in organising this 11th WIEF.
Thank you, and may Allah bless us all.