David Gardner, Chief Leader Writer and Associate Editor of the Financial Times, gave a talk about ‘Arab Exception’, or why despotism, and Western collusion in preserving it, has held the Arab World back. David joined the Financial Times in 1978 and worked mainly as a foreign correspondent (Spain, Mexico & Central America, Brussels and New Delhi); a regional specialist; or writer on international affairs. He spent much of the previous thirteen years at the FT devoted to the Middle East as roving Middle East editor, based out of Beirut, London and Dubai. He became Chief Leader Writer in 2006. In 2003 David won the David Watt international journalism prize for his writing on the Arab World. He has lectured or given papers at numerous think-tanks, foundations and universities in the UK, Europe, the Middle East and the US. The above topic is at the centre of his forthcoming book on the Arab World ‘Last Chance: An Arab Future in the Balance’ published by I.B. Tauris in May 2009.