LONDON, England (CNN) -- Every year for the last nine years, world business leaders and thinkers have gathered in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia's second largest city for the Jeddah Economic Forum.
This year's forum took place against a backdrop of growing economic insecurity. High oil prices and the specter of a recession in the US were on the minds of the gathered group of elite business leaders from more than 160 countries. They were meeting to talk about whether the Middle East's extraordinary rate of growth and development can be sustained -- especially in the face of the subprime slowdown and with ever growing competition from India and China.
Among many distinguished speakers, Alan Greenspan, former Federal Reserve chairman, talked about how to create sustainable prosperity through financial market architecture. UK entrepreneur and founder of the Virgin Group, Richard Branson led a discussion about leadership and who should be responsible for shaping the future.
Other notable speakers included George Soros, global financier, philanthropist and Chairman of The Open Society Institute and Bangladeshi economist Dr Muhammad Younis. He was awarded a Nobel Prize for setting up Grameen Bank -- the microcredit institution which lends to the neediest people allowing them to set up small businesses -- in 1976.
Established in 1999 and organized by the Jeddah Marketing Board and Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry to act as the "think tank of the Middle East", it has become a focus for dealing with regional and international economic and social issues.
Past speakers at the JEF have included former US Presidents George H W Bush and Bill Clinton; former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri; Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkish Prime Minister, Hillary Rodham Clinton and many other world leaders and senior businesspeople. E-mail to a friend