One of the pressing questions on the first day of the Government Summit yesterday was how to measure sustainability.
The former British prime minister Gordon Brown said there were three areas - developing research, producing skilled graduates and finding people's potential.
"You will not succeed as a country until you realise where the potential is, where the talent is," Mr Brown told a panel discussion.
"You've got to have the best general education system. The emphasis is not on the input, the emphasis is on the success by measuring the output."
Chairing the panel was Reem Al Hashimy, the Minister of State, who said measuring sustainability should focus on education and health, and the changing performance of the country.
"It is very important that we focus on developing the human resources and in the UAE that is the most important asset," Ms Al Hashimy said.
"The core of measuring sustainability and the progress of development is the human."
Mr Brown said having great leadership in the school system and updating the curriculum continuously would benefit all students.
Ms Al Hashimy added it was vital for the UAE to link up with international organisations and use advanced technologies, which the Ministry of Education is already doing.
"We cannot focus only on the information we get from the outside," she said. "We need to create a platform that will seek the needs of the citizens of the UAE.
"Graduates should seek to know what the market needs are, since they are very coherent."
Later, another session explored the reasons for the rapid development in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
"In mere years Dubai has taken care of its projects even through the economic crisis including the Palm Jumeirah, automated metro, and Burj Khalifa," said Mattar Al Tayer, the executive director of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority.
"Dubai changes quickly and that is how it develops. We know the leaders had a huge part in this, as well as the effective politics of the country."
Mr Al Tayer also mentioned the role of young people, which he said was crucial in sustaining development.
"It is also important to be creative and innovative in order to implement development," he said. "Continuation is also vital."
Falah Al Ahbabi, the general manager of Abu Dhabi's Urban Planning Council, said new projects such as Al Maryah Island (formerly Sowwah) are now the most important part of the emirate's development.
Projects such as Al Maryah and Strata, Mubadala's aerospace arm, provide jobs for young people.
Mr Al Ahbabi also mentioned the capital's new tourist areas, Saadiyat Island, where museums including the Louvre and Guggenheim will open within the next few years, and Yas Island, with its new housing and entertainment infrastructure.
"To link all projects together we must create smooth transportation," Mr Al Ahbabi said. "Such projects show a high level of investments and this should encourage us to continue further."