Their aim is to bolster regional competitiveness and increase economic ties with the international community.

"The council will create cooperative action among leading members of the Arab corporate sector to enhance the competitiveness of the Arab region and to facilitate its integration into the global economy," a WEF statement said.

Shafiq Gabr, chairperson of the seven-member executive committee, said the new business council would confront “slow growth, weak investment flows, and the perceived instability that currently mar the region’s potential.”

“We stand ready to work with our governments in ... enabling the region to take its rightful place in the global economy," said Gabr.

Within the next year, the council plans on holding two international private sector meetings – in an effort to “restore a constructive governance and combating corruption and bribery,” the statement said.

Business leaders attending the World Economic Forum (WEF) stressed the potential of the Arab marketplace.

CEO of Nestlé, Peter Brabeck-
Lethmathe: Peace essential

Chief executive officer of Nestlé, Peter Brabeck-Letmathe said the business community is committed to the Middle East, but that peace must also be a priority.

"As business leaders we affirm our ongoing commitment to play a constructive role in the joint endeavour of making peace a long-term reality in the Middle East," he said.

Speaking on behalf of the International Business Council – set up by the WEF in 2001, he insisted that "peace and the rule of law" were essential prerequisites to develop business in the
region.

"The Middle East is at a critical junction. Today there is an opportunity to establish a comprehensive, sustainable order based on the self-determination of all people in the region," he added.