SALT Abu Dhabi: Where finance, technology, geopolitics meet

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Updated 09 December 2019

SALT Abu Dhabi: Where finance, technology, geopolitics meet

  • Conference run by ex-White House communications chief Anthony Scaramucci comes to the Middle East
  • Platform aims to arrange conversations that can create greater cross-cultural understanding

DUBAI: The first Middle East SALT conference — the global thought leadership platform run by former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci — kicks off in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.
Some 1,000 leaders from the worlds of investment, finance and policymaking will gather at the city’s financial hub, the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), for the two-day event, billed as a “Davos style” forum intended to “foster collaboration at the intersection of finance, technology and geopolitics.”
Scaramucci, who launched the event in 2009 under the auspices of his investment business Skybridge Alternatives, told Arab News that there will be a “phenomenal group of people” at the event, which combines onstage presentations, one-to-one “bilaterals” and networking for some of the leading business and technology thinkers in the world.
“It’s through conversations like these that we can create greater cross-cultural understanding and begin to solve the world’s most pressing problems,” he said.
The big annual meeting is held in Last Vegas each year, but spin-off events have been held in Tokyo and Singapore.
The event will have a strongly regional flavor, with Saudi Prince Turki Al-Faisal, chairman of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, being joined by ADGM Chairman Ahmed Al-Sayegh and Khaldoon Al-Mubarak, managing director and group CEO of the Mubadala Investment Co., both of the UAE.
Al-Sayegh said: “The UAE’s robust economic environment, comprehensive industry offerings and sound political stability continue to uphold the nation’s stature as one of the most preferred investment destinations in the world.”
He added: “The SALT Abu Dhabi conference opens up a new window for global businesses and policymakers to gain new insights of what Abu Dhabi and the UAE have to offer now and in the long term.”
Among the foreign thought leaders attending the event are Gen. John F Kelly, former White House chief of staff, and Matteo Renzi, former prime minister of Italy.
“The future of US-Arab relations” will be the topic of a panel discussion on Monday. The session, to be moderated by Arab News Editor in Chief Faisal J. Abbas, will feature Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations; Norman Roule, CEO of Pharos Strategic Consulting LLC; and Dania Koleilat Khatib, affiliated scholar at the Issam Fares Institute.
On the same day, another panel discussion — featuring Renzi and Phillip Hammond, former chancellor of the British Exchequer, and moderated by Gideon Rachman, chief foreign affairs commentator at the Financial Times — will address “the future of Europe.”
The delegates will be keen to hear Scaramucci’s latest view on the political situation in the US.
He has been one of the fiercest critics of the presidency of Donald Trump, and is leading a campaign to persuade other members of the Republican Party to choose another contender for next year’s presidential election.
“Given his rank lawlessness and criminal activity, the lack of resistance in the Republican Party to him tells you a lot about the hypocrisy in America today,” Scaramucci said.
“He has clearly broken the law, but he has a group of sycophants and acolytes who won’t condemn what he’s doing,” he added.
“I just think he’s the wrong leader for the US. Our system is supposed to ensure that everyone is subject to the law. The president is supposed to serve, not rule. I think the guy is a traitor.”

British MPs urge UK government to recognize Palestine

Updated 21 January 2020

British MPs urge UK government to recognize Palestine

  • Palestinian envoy welcomes cross-party call ahead of visit by Prince Charles

LONDON: A group of British MPs has called for the UK to recognize the state of Palestine ahead of a visit by Prince Charles to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

In a letter to The Times, the MPs, along with figures from think tanks and pressure groups, said the move was long overdue and would help fulfill Britain’s “promise of equal rights for peoples in two states.” 

The call comes as the heir to the British throne travels on Thursday to Israel and the occupied West Bank. 

During the visit, he will meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem. 

Prince Charles will also attend the World Holocaust Forum to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp. 

The letter said since 2014, no meaningful progress has been made in the peace process, and Israel’s actions are pushing a two-state solution beyond reach.

“Illegal Israeli settlements, described by the Foreign Office as undermining peace efforts, are expanding,” the letter said.

Among the signatories are Emily Thornberry, a candidate for the Labour Party leadership, and Crispin Blunt, chairman of the Conservative Middle East Council.

Husam Zomlot, the Palestinian envoy to the UK, welcomed the move but said full recognition from the British government should have happened many years ago.

“Recognition doesn’t contradict peacemaking and negotiations,” Zomlot told Arab News, referring to the main argument used by the UK against taking such a step. 

“It reinforces the vision (of a Palestinian state) and a negotiated two-state solution. It should happen now because of the threat of annexation (of Palestinian territory) and the killing of the two-state solution.”


Prince Charles will also attend the World Holocaust Forum to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp. 

Alistair Carmichael, a Liberal Democrat MP who signed the letter, told Arab News that the policies of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government toward Palestine “makes the achievement of a two-state solution more and more remote with every week that passes.”

He said: “The UK has historic and political obligations toward Israelis and Palestinians. There’s now no longer any good reason not to recognize the state of Palestine.”

A spokesman for Labour MP Fabian Hamilton, who also signed the letter, told Arab News: “The fact that this has cross-party support shows the growing desire across Parliament for the recognition of a Palestinian state and a two-state solution.”

Chris Doyle, director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding, said the international community needs to finally stand up for the solution that it has had on the table for decades.

Doyle, an Arab News columnist, said the letter is an “indication that many people in British politics think we should be doing this, we should be standing up for the Palestinian right to self-determination, the legal rights, at a time when the state of Israel is doing everything to stop this, to take more land from the Palestinians.”

The letter was timed to coincide with a meeting of European foreign ministers on Monday, who discussed the Middle East peace process.

The Palestinian Authority, which runs parts of the West Bank, has been increasing calls for European countries to recognize the state of Palestine as the US has shifted to a more pro-Israel stance, including recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017.

Writing in The Guardian on Monday, Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said Europe could strengthen its role in the peace process if it recognized Palestine.

“European recognition of this state is not only a European responsibility but a concrete way to move towards a just and lasting peace,” he said.

Only nine out of the 28 EU countries have so far recognized Palestine as a state, compared to 138 out of the 193 UN member states.

In 2011, the UK’s then-Foreign Minister William Hague said the British government “reserves the right” to recognize Palestine “at a time of our own choosing, and when it can best serve the cause of peace.”

In 2012, the UN General Assembly voted to upgrade Palestine’s status to that of “nonmember observer state.”