Rushing through icy streets in complete darkness and sub-zero temperatures at an unearthly hour of the morning to another packed breakfast session can sometimes make you wonder about yourself, especially after a very short night. However, all such thoughts quickly disappear when you witness at first hand a genuinely ground-breaking moment such as President Rouhani’s fiery speech this morning on Iran’s intended re-entry into the global community.
After a full day of business meetings and sessions on economic and real estate prospects yesterday, this sudden close-up encounter with geo-politics and international diplomacy brings home the unique nature of the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting. President Rouhani talked of ‘constructive engagement’ and set the target for Iran to become one of the top 10 nations in terms of economic strength. Although that will be a long road to travel and business opportunities may take a while to materialise, interest from Davos delegates was stunningly high.
It wasn’t all one way traffic for the president. Encouraged by WEF head Klaus Schwab to acknowledge the existence of Israel, he chose instead to talk of good relations with ‘all countries we recognise’. Nevertheless, most people will have left the room with some hope that one of the potential major conflicts in the Middle East will be resolved without military action.
A momentous speech but does it offer any connection to our daily work at JLL? Not immediately, but we take pride in advising our clients very early about new trends and opportunities. If Iran is serious about re-engaging with the world of business and if it does aspire to become an important trading nation, its leaders will need to encourage many of the people who have left the country and reinvested their wealth elsewhere to be part of that rebuilding project. If Iran can succeed in that aim and then attract interest from a wider pool of international investors, it will open up real estate opportunities. Then it becomes directly relevant to JLL and our clients. It may be that we look back at this day in years to come as a significant turning point. That’s the special flavour of Davos.