practical life: More speed in energy development. Closer contact with the European Union. And a willingness to explore possibilities in the field of artificial intelligence. All of this and more is on the NHO's wish list when the annual convention begins Tuesday.
– We must create hope in what many consider a difficult time, Al-Maled tells NTB.
No index finger
Almost all of the top politicians, businessmen, media and others, numbering more than 1,300 people who can crawl and walk, are registered for the conference, which this year has been given the title “Leadership and Solutions”.
The title has been carefully chosen. Perhaps in contrast to last year's conference, where “unrest” was the common denominator.
– This time we wanted to not only point out concerns, but also solutions. Leadership is therefore important – both nationally and internationally, says the NHO president.
The 54-year-old, who has trained as a journalist, has led the NHO since 2018, through the energy crisis, the pandemic and now war in Europe and expensive times. At the same time, the climate crisis is becoming increasingly violent and costly.
Al-Milaid insists that it is urgent to obtain more renewable energy.
– But there is very little work in general. Now we have to pick up the pace. The workforce we are displaying now is what we will be measured against, says the NHO president, who stresses that this does not mean pointing the finger at the current government.
– And we need to talk better together about how to solve things, rather than polarized debates about who doesn't do what, Al-Maled says.
Rethinking the European Union
For Norwegian companies, one thing still applies more than anything else: the European Economic Area Agreement, which turned 30 on January 1.
A recent report by the Norwegian Foreign Policy Institute, commissioned by the National Housing Office, concludes that the agreement has increased trade with the EU by up to 65 percent and increased the real income of ordinary Norwegians by between 2 and 6 percent.
Now is the time to rethink the European Union, Al-Malid believes.
– A lot of this is happening in the European Union, and it's happening very quickly, and a lot of this is outside the European Economic Area agreement. The European Union has great ambitions to play a role in security policy. He wonders where Norway is then?
It should affect more
The answer is self-evident, says the NHO director.
-We must associate ourselves more closely with the European Union. This is the short answer. We must spend more time and resources early in operations to influence areas where we can influence. This means that we must increase the number of people in the administration working with the EU, and have a greater focus in Parliament. He stresses that we must show ourselves not only as those who demand exceptions, but be more proactive.
– What do you think of the Prime Minister saying that we do not need a new discussion about the European Union in Norway?
-We definitely need a discussion when it comes to Norway joining the European Union. Some people want to remove the EEA Agreement! But it is not certain that we need to discuss new members now. But we can hope that will come later, Al-Maled says.
– It could be the year of KI
He himself devoted the opening speech to talking about the possibilities that lie in artificial intelligence. Because this is also a transformation that will affect the world in the future.
– I think 2024 will be the year of work. It could be the year of artificial intelligence in Norway. We are bullish on technology in this country, and the space of possibilities when it comes to digital solutions and artificial intelligence is huge. We have to use that,” says Al-Mulaid, who is particularly looking to highlight startups that have found new digital solutions on the stage.
What he's most looking forward to is Spotify founder Daniel Ek and his ideas on digital solutions.
– Al-Mulaid says that he does not often stop at such stages.
“Web specialist. Lifelong zombie maven. Coffee ninja. Hipster-friendly analyst.”