Petraeus at American Middle East Institute Conference: Middle East Remains "Open Door" for Opportunity

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, UNITED STATES

PITTSBURGH, Nov. 1, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Retired 4-star general, David Petraeus, told an audience of some 850 attendees at the closing session of the American Middle East Institute's 2014 Business Conference that despite the threat of ISIS and governmental instability, opportunity is strong for American entrepreneurs and companies. In an interview before his on stage remarks at Carnegie Music Hall, Petraeus projected realistic optimism about the future of the region.

"I think it's an open door, but there are clearly many, many challenges," citing the mixed results of the Arab Spring. "There are numerous opportunities in those countries, and far beyond just the obvious ones in the energy industries, in a variety of other sectors and industries."

He continued, "These are vibrant, growing populations. They are economies that are diversifying, while they take advantage of the bounty that they have in energy blessings, but seek to get into other areas, other industries, other sectors."

The former CIA chief praised event organizers for its essential role outside traditional governmental channels saying, "AMEI plays a very important role in business, education and culture." Adding, "There often are breakthroughs in these areas that can lead to better understanding in different countries of each other."

The general's talk was titled, "A Way Forward: Hope and Opportunity in the Middle East." The Institute president, Simin Curtis, called Petraeus' talk, "A practical and sophisticated outline for a stronger, deeper relationship with friends in the Middle East. He stated a belief that is the driving core of our mission at AMEI – that come rain, hail or fire, business marches on in the Middle East and the United States."


Keynoting a morning session was Mohammed bin Hamad Al Rumhy, Minister of Oil and Gas of the Sultanate of Oman. In an interview at the conclusion of the conference, Al Ruhmy said AMEI was an essential platform for addressing Middle East conflict saying, "The work that the Institute is doing to bring Middle East voices, and the Americans at least listening to those voices, is extremely important, especially now." The minister spoke of a growing need for a new, cooperative voice to emerge from the region adding, "The silent majority needs to speak up. We need institutes such as the American Middle East Institute to bring people together."


Earlier this year, AMEI president Simin Curtis led a private mission to Iran to explore the idea of bringing a major, American symphony orchestra to Tehran. "Music is a universal language and we should always look to find areas of common interest that build goodwill. It's important to maintain people to people cultural connections with countries like Iran, especially when we don't have formal diplomatic relations," said Ms. Curtis. At a rare public appearance in the United States, Ali Moradkhani, Art Affairs Deputy Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance for Iran, thanked the institute for continuing the dialogue and exchange.

View the complete business conference schedule and theme at

The American Middle East Institute (AMEI) is an independent, non-profit organization, headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. AMEI is focused on building business, educational and cultural ties between the United States and the countries of the Middle East.


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