Dubai plays host to OECD conference

International government & business leaders converge on Dubai today ahead of the opening of the first OECD conference ever to be held in the Middle East.

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By  Rob Corder Published  January 15, 2001

International government and business leaders will converge on Dubai today ahead of the opening of the first Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) conference ever to be held in the Middle East.

Conference participants will review developments in a number of areas relevant to electronic commerce, including security, privacy, content, taxation, pricing, standards and intellectual property rights.

There will also be fringe meetings to discuss issues such as regulatory reform in the telecommunications sector, alternative dispute resolution mechanisms in e-commerce, the taxation of e-commerce and ways of bridging the digital divide.

The conference will not produce any official recommendations, as participants will be present in a personal capacity and not as government representatives. But it will serve to clarify the issues and establish where there is a consensus as to how world wide co-ordination in these areas can be advanced, said the OECD.

Coordinating the conference from Dubai’s end is Saeed Al Muntafiq, CEO for Dubai Media City. His personal aim is to raise the profile of the Middle East’s role in the New Economy among the visiting government and business leaders. "We have tried to bring a wide variety of views through the selection of policy-shapers from around the world and from various organizations, and we are certain that their discussions over January 16 and 17, 2001, will add value to this region and help us formulate a strategy which will see us as a crucial and integral part of the New World Economy," he said.

The choice of Dubai as host for an OECD conference demonstrates the organisation’s desire to expand its membership to developing markets. There is not a single Middle East country currently within the OECD’s 30 members.

Membership of the OECD is granted to countries that adhere to the organisation’s founding principles: “an open market economy, democratic pluralism and respect for human rights.”

In addition, according to the OECD charter, members must agree to participate in an exercise called "peer review," which sees member countries openly and honestly assessing each other’s performance. The peer review is based on “transparency, explanation, and, when needed, self-criticism by the countries examined,” says the OECD.

As well as their omission from the OECD’s member list, no GCC countries participate in the OECD’s Centre for Cooperation with Non-Members. Here, the rules of engagement are more relaxed, allowing a far broader spectrum of countries to join.

Participants include: Albania, Armenia, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, China, Colombia, Croatia, Egypt, Estonia, Former Yugosloav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Georgia, Hong Kong, China, India, Indonesia, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Malaysia, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Peru, Romania, Russian Federation, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Africa, Chinese Taipei, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, and Vietnam.

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