From the “Deutschen Weltbank Forum” 2006, June 1st and 2nd

The ‚8th German World Bank Forum‘, an event of global significance, was arranged by the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce in co-operation with the Senate of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg on 1 to 2 June. High ranking decision takers and experts from the Middle East, who cannot all be mentioned here by name, discussed the conference topic “Germany and the Middle East: Opportunities and Challenges” with German and other European participants. Besides the Lady Minister Sheika Lubna Al Qasimi (UAE), NMI & MAN FERROSTAAL Chairman, Dr. Matthias Mitscherlich, World Bank Vice President Christiaan Poortman, Minister Dr. Mahmood Mohieldin (Egypt), Ambassador Dr. Klaus Ebermann (EU), Dr. Nasser Al-Saidi (Egypt), Mohamed Farid Fouad Khamis (Egypt), Minister Prof. Dr. Kamran Bagheri Lankarani (Iran), Minister Dr. Diala Al-Haj Aref (Syria), Ex-Minister Nasreen Berwari (Iraq), Dr. Farkhonda Hassan (Egypt), Minister Dr. Muhammed Khalifeh (Lebanon), Dr. Omar Hefni (President Dubai University), Lady Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul (Germany), Hamburg’s Mayor Ole von Beust, Saad Hariri (Lebanon), Sheikha Hissa Al Abdullah Al Sabah (Kuwait), Dr. Farkhonda Hassan (Egypt), Prof. Bassam Tibi (University Göttingen) and EU Commissioner Dr. Benita Ferrero-Waldner; among others, the President of the World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz, attended the conference, as one of the Keynote Speakers – along with his most important staff members. The programme was structured as follows: ‚Plenary 1: Transitions in MENA – Opportunities & Challenges‘ with the substructure items ‚Breakout Session I & II‘ subdivided in ‚Group I & II‘, each of which was again subdivided in I/1: Governance $ Political Economy in the MENA Region, I/2; Creating Employment; Private Sector, Trade & Investment and I/3: The Emerging Health Agenda as well as II/1 Cross Roads – Education & Labour, II/2: The Building Blocks – Energy, Water & Infrastructure and II/3: Women in Decision-making. This at first sight seeming somewhat complicated subdivision had to be carried out to be able of reasonably handling the complex subject. After the inauguration by Hamburg’s Mayor Ole von Beust and Chamber President Dr. Karl-Joachim Dreyer, speeches were delivered by high ranking German and foreign politicians, economic experts and diplomats. The comprehensive programme was eventually concluded after the second common part: Plenary 2: The Media – the Emerging Public Sphere and the Final Part: Conclusions and Outlook. Moderator was Dr. Theo Sommer (DIE ZEIT). The German Foreign Ministry was represented by the Co-ordinator for international Staff Policy, Ambassador Wolfgang Stöckl.

At invitation of the Senate of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg an impressive trip on the old paddle steamer “Louisiana Star” was arranged in the evening of 31 May and on 1 June the Senate gave an Evening Gala Dinner at the City Hall.

The World Bank Forum was founded in 1995 as discussion forum for leading personalities of politics, economy, science and the media and it represents a unique opportunity for maintaining important contacts, establishing new relations to representatives of the World Bank as well as to politicians and corporate managers of the countries involved, and this important objective could be achieved to the full satisfaction of the participants.

In the afternoon of 31 May, the official programme was preceded by a WORKSHOP under the auspices of BDI (Association of German Industry) titled: “How to do Business with the World Bank” that provided information on the requirements and regularities, such as function and handling of Invitations for Bids and Project Financing, without which a complex institution such as the World Bank is obviously unable to work. The related hints and experience reports prepared focused primarily on smaller and medium sized companies intending to take up work with the World Bank for the first time. This should be of utmost interest especially for German companies, as deficits regarding knowledge and handling of the World Bank Specifications were noticed in Germany, or those companies were not insufficiently acquainted with these specifications, respectively – or already initiated approaches had not revealed the required success, but led to disqualification, because the requirements and regularities of the World Bank were not precisely observed!

The presentations given by the highly qualified experts of the World Bank and the co-operating institutions rendered the impression that the available offers regarding
Consulting Services
Financing and
Project Management

are not yet fully used by the medium sized companies of German industry so that essential market segments are not (or cannot) be handled. This may result in considerable deficits regarding turnover and profit. Consequently, it is recommended to eliminate those deficits – as appropriate, with the support offered by the above mentioned experts, WB-Vice President Fred Kranz, Dr. Joachim Richter (Project Finance International) and Wilfried Maus (bfai) (German Agency for Foreign Trade) – to be competent and compatible on the international market. According to statements made by the World Bank experts credit funds are definitely available, granting of those funds depends, however, on keeping the stringent WB Specifications, and prior to that and in addition, interested companies must have concluded definite project handling agreements with the Governments concerned. Incidentally, detailed information is also available on the Web Site
Top Speeches and Panel
For reasons of space restriction, only four top speeches and the Panel MEDIA will be commented on in more detail as examples for the most informative and substantial programme:

Speech: WB-President Wolfowitz
The top item of the programme was the speech delivered by World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, in the evening of 1 June. An essential topic of his speech was the challenge of fighting poverty, and President Wolfowitz appreciated, in particular, the role of Germany as important member of the World Bank. In his clearly structured speech, he also referred to the following items as characteristic features of the MENA Region, i.e. the high oil price, the jobless rate, credit funds provided by the World Bank as well as deficits in the areas of education and investments. At the Gala Dinner of the Senate in the Grand Room of the City Hall President Wolfowitz spoke again thus rendering the WB Forum a special note, along with his thanks to the hosts.

Presentation: EU Commissioner Dr. Ferrero-Waldner
The Austrian EU Commissioner for Foreign Relations and Neighbourhood Policy, Dr. Benita Ferrero-Waldner, provided a particularly relevant contribution to the problem areas referred to in this programme by her speech titled: ”EU Relations to the MENA Region” characterised by the three items: Lack of Freedom, Neglected Education and Feminine Disadvantages. Among others, she thus also referred to the problems in the areas Security, Globalisation and Poverty as well as the Barcelona Process. According to her the EU is already the most significant provider of funds for the MENA Region; however, illiteracy, for instance, can only be reliably reduced in the medium and long term, and the Israel/Palestine Conflict does not permit any achievable short term solution at all. The equally competent and experienced politician and diplomat presented the subject with lots of intimate knowledge and the typical Austrian charm, and she received an grand applause for it.
Speech: Minister Wieczorek-Zeul
The Lady Minister, Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, who led the German Ministry for Economic Co-operation (BMZ) for many years, hinted especially at the negative influences of certain features in the MENA Region, such as Political Tensions, a Scarcity in Water in individual countries, the large number of Jobless Young People as well as deficits in the areas of Human Rights and especially in Disadvantages for Women. Moreover, she referred to the Barcelona Process, at the same time underlining that the EU cannot work with double standards, and in this context she hinted at the problem zone Israel/Palestine. In all, she rendered the impression that Germany is very closely involved in the difficult political management, doing whatever possible to render the EU measures efficient and thus successful by a significant financial and co-ordinating, organisational engagement.
Speech: Dr. Mitscherlich
The Chairman of MAN FERROSTAAL and NMI CHAIRMAN (North Africa Middle East Initiative of German Business), Dr. Matthias Mitscherlich, provided a particularly valuable contribution in that his speech was based on experience data as seen by companies wishing to operate in the MENA Region or in GCC States (Gulf Co-operation Council) – by the way, more than 50% of the known oil and gas resources are to be found in this region! In view of maintaining already existing contacts he hinted, among others, at the envisaged ‚Broader MENA Finance Conference‘ in Munich early in 2007. Moreover, and as reasons for the successful business operation he stated the known top products of German industry and he mentioned the German virtues reliability, accuracy and contract fulfilment, appreciated abroad, representing the basis for any long term engagement. He then completed these statements by an outlook to potential development trends, characterised by “WTO Plus” and “Euromed Free Trade Area” (Euro-Mediterranean Partnership by 2010). Dr. Mitscherlich concluded his speech by the following, very fitting quotation of Goethe’s ‘West East Divan’: ”Who knows himself and also others will clearly recognise that the Orient and the Occident can no longer be separated!”

As far as contents and liveliness are concerned the item to be pointed out in this regard is undoubtedly the PANEL MEDIA, chaired by Jack Tuck, with the equally competent and experienced scientist and book author Prof. Dr. Bassam Tibi as Key Note Speaker. The conflict regions Iran, Iraq, Israel/Palestine and the dispute regarding the Mohammed Caricatures recently referred to in detail as key topics by the Arab TV Station AL JAZEERA, but also by CNN, ABC, CBS and AL HAYAT, thus provided more than sufficient matters of discussion for this Panel! Definitions of the terms: Responsible and constructive journalism were also mentioned – and, in addition, the differences between Arab and Western reporting were treated particularly emotionally!

Concluding Remarks
This “8th World Bank Forum” was an event of outstanding significance due to its substantial contents and its practise-related arrangement as well as the large number of relevant contributions to the topics presented!

Interested companies can only be strongly recommended to accept the support and the consultant services offered by the experts present!

The Institutions INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND (IMF) and WORLD BANK (WB) founded on the basis of the ‚Bretton Woods‘ Agreement have impressively proven their significance for global economy during the past decades, and today they can effectively support the Developing Countries in their endeavours to achieve political stability and economic prosperity.

Within the scope of an additional operating process the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce has compiled the most important documents and results of this World Bank Forum on the Web Site for use!


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