Entrepreneurs, investors and policymakers from across the Arab world and Africa came together in Bahrain as the 5th edition of the World Entrepreneurs Investment Forum (WEIF) opened yesterday.

Held under the patronage of His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince and Prime Minister, the forum, themed ‘Achieving the SDGs through Fostering Innovation and Economic Growth,’ aims to address pressing global challenges and promote sustainable development through entrepreneurship.

Finance and National Economy Minister Shaikh Salman bin Khalifa Al Khalifa inaugurated the forum.

Sameer Nass, president of the Union of Arab Chambers and Bahrain Chamber chairman, highlighted the event’s focus on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through innovation and economic growth.

He praised Bahrain’s commitment to fostering a culture of entrepreneurship, citing government initiatives, non-profit organisations, and educational institutions that support startups.

The forum aims to be a platform for Arab entrepreneurs to showcase their ideas, connect with investors, and contribute to achieving the SDGs. Mr Nass emphasised the historical role of Arab entrepreneurs in driving innovation and economic development.

Bahrain Chamber first vice chairman Khalid Najibi underscored the forum’s significance.

“WEIF 2024 offers a unique platform for entrepreneurs to connect with experienced investors,” Mr Najibi said. “This forum fosters knowledge exchange and skill development, equipping entrepreneurs for success.”

He underlined the importance of partnerships and knowledge sharing. “WEIF 2024 actively encourages collaboration,” Mr Najibi explained. “By fostering a creative and innovative environment, the forum empowers entrepreneurs to contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.”

Bahrain Chamber, Mr Najibi stressed, plays a pivotal role in supporting this vision. “We actively implement programmes and events that promote development, innovation, and economic growth,” he said. “We remain committed to aligning ourselves with government strategies to create a thriving environment for entrepreneurs to flourish.”

The forum comes at a time when Africa is seeking to expand its trade partnerships beyond traditional players like China and the EU.

Organisers highlighted the stagnant share of global trade held by Africa (around three per cent) and emphasised the potential for stronger trade ties between Arab and African countries.

Discussions are expected to explore ways to improve market access, encourage investments, and leverage the African Continental Free Trade Area to create a more robust trade network.

Success stories like the trade relationship between Uganda and the UAE, with exports like gold and fish fillets from Uganda, are seen as models for future collaboration.

WEIF has a history of facilitating partnerships, mobilising investments, and empowering entrepreneurs. This year’s forum is expected to build on that legacy by bringing together a diverse range of stakeholders, including government entities, UN agencies, and private sector representatives.

As the world faces challenges like climate change and technological disruption, WEIF aims to be a platform for developing innovative solutions and fostering ecosystems that support entrepreneurs and investment.

The WEIF is facilitated by the General Secretariat at the UNIDO Investment and Technology Promotion Office in Bahrain in partnerships with the League of Arab States, the Industry and Commerce Ministry, the Union of Arab Chambers, the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa, Bahrain Chamber and a number of local, regional and international partners.


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