I got off the Bangkok Airways flight at Yangon International Airport. At the arrivals, the long line for visas on arrival welcomes me and after an hour i get my visa. Things are a little slower than most places I have visited. So much paper work!!
I am in Myanmar for the Global Young Leaders forum run by the World Economic Forum. The Forum will take place on the sides of World Economic Forum on East Asia both in Yango (Rangoon) and Nay Pyi Taw. I read in the Myanmar Times that the gathering of about 900 delegates will be the largest gathering the country has hosted in 20 years. I had read from ForeignPolicy a few days before that “between 1900 and 1990, gross domestic product (GDP) growth increased at no more than 1.6 percent a year — half of the rate of the rest of the world.”
From BBC I had read “from 1962 to 2011, Myanmar was ruled by a military junta that suppressed almost all dissent and wielded absolute power in the face of international condemnation and sanctions.” And i also have a Burmese friend who has been at the forefront working with dissents in the diaspora since late 1990s.
As I go deeper into the Myanmar Times pages, I find an MTN advert and all the talk is invest in this, invest in that. It’s a country that has been closed to the world for long and now everybody is rushing. Everybody talks of how much opportunity exists. MTN is here because for the first time the government is going liberalize the telecom sector.
US is about to pump in a lot of money after decades of isolating the country. Myanmar has oil, gas, timber and minerals. Its a market of over 60 million people.
As we drive past the Yagon University, the driver smiles brightly and tells me Obama came to the university on his visit recently.
As we close in to my hotel, I realize how heavy it’s been raining and it trained for most of my first 48 hours in Myanmar.