Jordan will host the World Economic Forum (WEF) on the Middle East and North Africa for the year 2013 from May 24 - 26 in the Dead Sea. The event, will host over 1,000 participants from government, business, civil society and academia sectors from across the Middle East. Planning for the event has officially kicked off, a statement from the Forum reported, adding that Jordan’s King Abdullah II Fund for Development (KAFD) signed off the official paperwork to mark the start of preparations. The 2013 forum is set to focus on a "new" Middle East and North Africa context, in which leaders and policymakers across the region are responding to societal and geopolitical challenges, such as mass uprisings which have swept the Middle East since 2011. "This situation represents a key opportunity for industry, government and civil society to jointly make historic gains in crucial areas, including youth unemployment, transparency, income disparity reduction, private sector development and infrastructure," the WEF said in a statement. "At the same time, the deep economic slowdown in Europe and continuous geopolitical uncertainty in the Levant underscore the need for enhanced regional cooperation as well as the importance of relations with emerging markets," the statement added. The Forum describes itself as an independent international organization, engaging business, political, academic and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.