Reda Cherif, Fuad Hasanov, and Min Zhu
Published Date:
April 2016
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This book would not have been possible without the support of the IMF’s Middle East Center for Economics and Finance (CEF) in Kuwait. Indeed, the book is based on the high-level diversification conference1 organized by the IMF and the Ministry of Finance of Kuwait. Hosted by the CEF, the conference took place on April 30–May 1, 2014—at the time when oil prices were still high and the topic was not as pressing—and was the forum for discussing ideas on how to shape the future of the region.

As shown throughout the book, the importance of investment in human capital to succeed in diversification cannot be overemphasized. In this respect, the establishment of the CEF has enabled the IMF to scale up the provision of training in the Arab region at a crucial juncture as many countries in the region undergo an economic transition. The Center works closely with the IMF, which provides technical assistance, and partners with other international organizations to strengthen policymaking institutions and capacity in the region. In the short period since its establishment, the CEF has become a center of intellectual leadership and has enriched the debate on the economic challenges of the region.

We would like to thank the government of Kuwait for its generous funding and tremendous support of the CEF, which plays an active role in disseminating high-quality training to the Arab region.

We are very grateful to His Excellency Anas Al Saleh, Minister of Finance of Kuwait, Bader Al Saad, Managing Director of the Kuwait Investment Authority, Ahmad Bastaki, the Executive Director of the Kuwait Investment Authority, His Excellency Muhammad Al Jasser, Minister of Economy and Planning of Saudi Arabia at the time of the conference and currently Minister at the Royal Court, and Fahad Alshathri, the IMF Executive Director for Saudi Arabia, for their generous support and contributions. Their participation and the support provided made the conference a success and paved the way for this book.

This book is also the product of tremendous support received from many IMF colleagues. In particular, we would like to thank Alfred Kammer, Deputy Director of the Strategy, Policy, and Review Department, and Tim Callen, Chief of the GCC Division of the Middle East and Central Asia Department (MCD), whose strong leadership, commitment to promote an open intellectual dialogue, and continuous support made the whole project possible. We are also indebted to Tarhan Feyzioglu, Advisor, Office of the Managing Director, for his strong support and help throughout the project.

We would also like to thank Sharmini Coorey, Director of the Institute for Capacity Development (ICD), Masood Ahmed, Director (MCD), Alan MacArthur, Deputy Director (ICD), Ray Brooks, Division Chief (ICD), and Deputy Directors Aasim Husain (MCD), Andrew Berg (ICD), and Gerd Schwartz (ICD) for their strong support.

We are grateful to the staff of the CEF for their intellectual and organizational support. In particular, we would like to thank former Director Abdelhadi Yousef and former Acting Director Philippe Karam, as well as current Director Oussama Kanaan and Deputy Director Sami Ben Naceur. We would also like to express our gratitude to the conference coordinators Alia Al-Duaij and Muhannad Darwish at the CEF and Sara Knight in Washington, D.C., for their superb logistical support and outstanding effort.

We are greatly indebted to our colleagues in the Communications Department for their tremendous work in the publication of the book, in particular, Jeremy Clift, Joanne Creary Johnson, Linda Kean, and Linda Long. We are also grateful to Mehveş Konuk for the calligraphy of a falcon and to Kuwait Petroleum Corporation for allowing us to use the image of the historical Kuwait mural in their building for the book cover.

Lastly, we would like to thank our prominent contributors and speakers at the conference, who made this event lively, insightful, and stimulating, and without whom we would not have this volume: Philippe Aghion to Jose Miguel Benavente, Iftekhar Hasan, Clement Henry, Huck-ju Kwon, Mohamed Lahouel, Julio Ramundo, Ahmad Tajuddin, Meredith Woo, and Philip Yeo.

We hope that this collection of essays can serve as a starting point for policymakers to undertake diversification, one of the most challenging and pressing issues facing oil exporters.

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