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Sharjah Crown Prince inaugurates Fifth AUS Business Forum
Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qassimi, Supreme Council Member, Ruler of Sharjah, and President of American University of Sharjah (AUS), His Excellency Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Bin Sultan Al Qassimi, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Sharjah, inaugurated the Fifth AUS Business Forum and Career Fair at the university today, March 17.
The forum, an important annual event on the AUS calendar, brings leading corporate names, renowned industry leaders and experts to campus to discuss a wide variety of issues pertaining to the region. In tandem with the university's strategic goals of organically-linking academic activities with commercial, industrial and societal concerns, the event provides students, alumni and faculty with an opportunity to interact with and listen to thought leaders debate and share their views on topics ranging from entrepreneurship and leadership, technology and innovation to investment and banking and the art of leadership, among others.
Addressing the delegates in his welcoming remarks, Dr. Thomas Hochstettler, AUS Acting Chancellor, said that the event was a special forum where visionaries, experts and leaders from various industries assembled to interact with students, alumni, employers, AUS officials, and other honored guests to discuss the latest in local and international business and share their ideas on how to contribute to the region's growth and prosperity. "To have so many of our industry leaders present with us here today gives us hope and confidence that together we can forge a bright and prosperous future not only for our respective institutions but for the UAE and the region," he added.
Hamid D. Jafar, Chairman, Crescent Group of Companies, and a member of the AUS Board of Trustees, delivered the conference's inaugural address in which he focused on the challenge of youth unemployment faced by the MENA region. "The MENA region's population has tripled over the past four decades to over 360 million people. MENA's youth unemployment rate currently stands at 25 percent which is the highest in the world, and believe it or not, the World Bank estimates that 100 million new jobs will need to be created in the MENA region in the next eight years, just to catch up with global average employment," he said.
He noted that the UAE offered a great model of managing the job market in terms of youth employment. He said that the country saw low rates of unemployment despite its high population growth rate. He stated that these low rates of unemployment were not achieved as a result of the country's natural resources wealth but rather because of the business environment that the country's leadership has fostered over the years. "The reason is twofold: On the one hand, it is policies that have allowed business development to flourish while on the other, it is fostering education and higher education with the job market firmly in mind. It goes without saying that both of these complementary factors need nurturing by enlightened policies and a caring leadership which we, of course, are extremely fortunate to have in the UAE," he said.
Delivering the key note address, Pierre Choueiri, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Choueiri Group, focused on factors that help in becoming a successful entrepreneur and the lessons he had learned on his path to success. He said that it is important to start at the bottom of the corporate ladder as it gives one crucial experience needed to learn each step of the business. "Anyone can learn anything if they put their mind to it," he said. "Passion is very important. The Choueiri Group began with only two people armed with nothing more than a passion for success." He said that while a clear vision for one's business is your guide to success, it is passion for your work which sustains you. "Passion drives successful entrepreneurs. It sustains and motivates us to meet the toughest goals," he added.
Panels comprising academics and senior officials from the corporate sector were held throughout the day-long event, which was organized by the university's Office of Development and Alumni Affairs.
In an exclusive interview conducted by Dr. Robert Grosse, Dean of the AUS School of Business Administration, Fouad Makhzoumi, Chairman of Future Pipe Industries, shared his experience and perspectives on business and entrepreneurship. He stressed on the importance of companies relying on and utilizing research centers and universities to develop products catering to the needs of their clients. He said that this should be pursued keeping in mind the requirements of the client achieved in the most cost-effective way, thus making the company attractive to clients and investors alike. Commenting on what it took to be a successful entrepreneur, Makhzoumi said that there was no standard recipe for success. However, he placed great stress on education as a vital factor that plays a great role in helping an individual identify opportunities when he sees them and equips him with the wherewithal to interact with these opportunities in the best way possible way.
Dr. Nada Mourtada-Sabbah, Vice Chancellor for Development and Alumni Affairs, also addressed the delegates at the event. "As the university most closely associated with the private sector, AUS is proud to support and collaborate with business and industry to fulfill the needs of the UAE. We open the door wide to the flow of ideas and innovation between industry and higher education so that the enhanced synergy flows both ways. We are all at work to devise the best means in raising standards of living and in preparing the young leaders of tomorrow for this region of the world," said Dr. Sabbah.
Following the Business Forum, the annual Career Fair will be held tomorrow, March 18. AUS Career Fair will serve as point of connection between AUS students and alumni, and company representatives, whether from private or public sectors, who are interested in recruiting senior students and graduates as either full-time employees or interns. More than 70 national and multinational companies will be present at the Career Fair, some from the United Arab Emirates and many from other countries as well.