BEIRUT/RIYADH: Prime Minister Najib Mikati called on Arab leaders to seek tangible solutions as he arrived in Saudi Arabia Sunday to attend Monday’s opening of the major two-day Arab Economic and Social Development summit.
“We are invited to meet the challenges presented in this summit ... and move to a time of inclusive growth,” Mikati wrote on his Twitter page.
“We need to produce practical results beyond promises or decisions that remain without executive frameworks,” he added.
Mikati was accompanied by Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour, Finance Minister Mohammad Safadi, Economy Minister Nicolas Nahhas and Industry Minister Vreij Sabounjian.
Sources ruled out any political agenda behind the prime minister’s visit to Saudi Arabia, Lebanese local media outlets reported.
Mikati’s ties with Saudi Arabia have reportedly deteriorated after he agreed to take over from former Prime Minister Saad Hariri in office. Hariri, who has close ties with the Saudi royal family, was toppled by Hezbollah.
Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister told Agence France Presse that the summit must break with tradition and tackle people’s aspirations in the wake of the Arab Spring uprisings.
“Our meeting should not be mired in routine,” Prince Saud al-Faisal said at a meeting Saturday ahead of the summit.
“The Arab world has faced these past two years upheavals of a political dimension ... but we cannot ignore their economic dimension,” he added.
Poverty, unemployment and social inequalities were among the causes that triggered a Tunisian uprising in late 2010 that later spread throughout the Middle East and North Africa.
Experts have warned that the Arab world risks losing the fragile gains made by the uprisings, which brought an end to decades of iron-fisted rule by leaders in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen.
A recent economic report noted that unemployment in 2011 stood at 16 percent in Arab countries, with 17 million people out of 300 million jobless.
At the same time inter-Arab investments stood at a mere $25 billion across the region.
The summit in oil-rich Saudi Arabia is expected to discuss the amendment of an Arab convention on investments in a bid to bolster the role of the private sector, Faisal said.
The meeting would also examine means of drawing up new financial resources to support impoverished Arab states, he added.