DUBAI – Good afternoon. Thank you, Dean Yousef, for hosting me today. Thank you, Lubna Qassim. And thank you to all of you for being here.
It's a privilege to be here at the Dubai School of Government. A number of years ago, I was a lecturer at the Kennedy School of Government, with which this institution is closely affiliated. I can tell already from my short time here today that the Dubai School of Government has done a tremendous job of creating the same vibrant, public-interest oriented atmosphere that I found so enriching at the Kennedy School.
In his speech in Cairo last fall, President Obama said that "education and innovation will be the currency of the 21st century." His Highness the late Sheikh Zayed, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa, and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid have been leaders in promoting education and innovation for men and women from throughout the region. The rapid emergence of the Dubai School of Government as a center of educational excellence and public-policy research is a testament to their vision.
Before we move to our discussion today, I'd like to speak briefly about the importance of that vision as we work not only to cement the global economic recovery, but to move beyond recovery to build a more stable and sustainable model for global economic growth.
One year ago, the world faced the worst financial crisis in generations. Global credit markets had frozen. Global trade was collapsing. The world was standing on the edge of an economic abyss. The crisis proved – if anyone still doubted it – that in today's world, our nations and our economies are inextricably bound together.
In responding to this crisis, the nations of the world moved swiftly and in close coordination. Together, we acted to stabilize the financial system, to restore the flow of credit, to assist emerging economies and to help keep markets open for trade and investment. Gulf nations have played a critical role in these efforts. Here in the UAE, as elsewhere in the Gulf, you made substantial financial commitments to combat the downturn, with the largest percentage of the investment going – importantly – to the education and service sectors.
The results of that coordination are now clear. After four quarters of contraction, the U.S. economy grew in the third quarter of last year. It grew again in the fourth quarter, at an annualized pace of 5.7 percent, and we expect to see continued growth in 2010. And for the Gulf Cooperation Council as a whole, the International Monetary Fund predicts 5 percent growth next year.
To be sure, there is still much work to do. In the United States, the GDP numbers have yet to translate into the job growth that matters to people hit so hard by the economic downturn. Beyond the United States, the market turbulence in recent weeks and months, including here in Dubai, is a reminder that risks and challenges remain.
As we move forward, it is critical that we deepen our partnership even further – and that we work through remaining challenges with openness, transparency and with a deep sense of common purpose. I have no doubt that, together, we will put the troubles of the past year behind us and fully repair the damage of the financial crisis.
But our work will not end there. Looking to the future, we have to begin the work of building a more balanced, sustainable model for global economic growth – a model in which our economies are more diverse, the world's trade flows more balanced, and the system as a whole less prone to bubbles and collapse.
Recognizing that imperative, the G-20 Leaders committed in Pittsburgh last September to a new Framework for Strong, Sustainable, and Balanced Growth. Achieving that goal will require partnership well beyond the G-20. Nations across the world – developed and emerging, large and small – all have a critical role to play.
As we work towards sustainable, balanced growth, nothing will be more important than investing in the education of the rising generation of leaders. Your generation will be the source of new ideas and new technologies. Your generation will produce the entrepreneurs that will capitalize on those innovations. And your generation will produce the policy-makers who will help ensure that public policies facilitate – and keep pace with – responsible innovation in the years to come.
Here in the Emirates, you recognize the importance of education. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to meet and talk with the leaders of several groups, including the Tawteen council in Abu Dhabi, which have partnered with the government to provide students with the skills and employment opportunities to excel in the private sector. Today, we meet at a school that embodies the UAE's commitment to the next generation.
I'm proud that U.S. institutions are contributing to these efforts. About 15 American universities now have partnerships in the Gulf, including some of my country's best-known schools.
The United States looks forward to doing more. President Obama will host a Summit of Entrepreneurship later this year to discuss the importance of technology and innovation, access to capital, unleashing youth entrepreneurship, mentoring and networking, and fostering a culture of entrepreneurship in Muslim-majority communities around the world. In fact, our moderator today, Lubna Qassim, is one of the invitees to the Summit.
As we invest together in the next generation of leaders, it is critical that all our young people have the opportunity to learn and to lead. In the UAE and in many other parts of the Gulf, you have long since realized that no country can truly thrive if half of the population is denied the opportunity to learn and lead. The UAE is a clear leader in this region, with female Ministers, Parliamentarians, business leaders, judges and even fighter pilots.
As a public servant – and given that I am speaking here at the Dubai School of Government – let me add another point: private sector entrepreneurs are key to economic growth. But the private sector should not have monopoly on innovation, and the private sector is not the only arena in which entrepreneurs are needed. In my own career, I have seen that the most effective public servants are those that are able to bring the same kind of training, innovativeness and sense of entrepreneurial spirit expected of successful businesses to bear on public policy.
Nothing demonstrates the power of policy entrepreneurship better than Dubai itself, where vision, imagination and determination gave rise to a global financial center.
There are some who may point to recent headlines and ask what the future holds for Dubai. But as a citizen of the United States – a nation that has been tested by a Great Depression, by wars, by financial turmoil, and yet has always emerged stronger and more resilient – I say this with confidence: where people are willing to face their challenges and address them directly and openly, where people are willing to learn from the past, and where ideas, investment and change are welcomed, growth and prosperity will follow.
Soon, you and your generation will take the lead in these important efforts. As Young Arab Leaders, it will be for you – along with your peers in America, in Europe, in Africa, in other parts of Asia – to build a more balanced, sustainable global economy. It will be for you, as President Obama said, "to re-imagine the world, to remake this world."
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid has said, "the leaders of tomorrow are the foundation of the future." Those words are wise. I look forward to talking with you, as leaders of tomorrow, about the challenges facing your countries, mine and the world, and about how we can rise to meet these challenges together.