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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 18 November 2018

Global experts gather in Dubai for World Economic Forum meeting

Topics including technology, health, finance and energy will be discussed as part of efforts to support new phase of economic growth - Globalisation 4.0

Mirek Dusek, head of the Middle East and North Africa at the World Economic Forum. Photo: WEF
Mirek Dusek, head of the Middle East and North Africa at the World Economic Forum. Photo: WEF

Hundreds of the world’s foremost experts on topics including advanced technology, biodiversity, urbanisation, finance, health and energy will gather in Dubai on Sunday and Monday to help articulate how a new era of global co-operation should be shaped.

The World Economic Forum’s Global Future Councils gather is aimed at providing the “intellectual stimulus that will flow” into its larger annual meeting in the Swiss town of Davos in January, said Mirek Dusek, the Forum’s head of the Middle East and North Africa region.

The overarching theme of both events is what the Wef is calling Globalisation 4.0, which identifies a rapidly approaching new era of trade, investment and relations, accelerated by the development of technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, the internet of things (IoT) and Big Data – and how they impact society.

Globalisation provided great gains and lifted record number of people out of poverty but a lack of inclusion, increasing inequality and a backlash including populism in Europe, has triggered a need to rethink economic and social systems, said Mr Dusek.

In Dubai, 38 councils will meet on a wide variety of key topics related to Globalisation 4.0 and building “a new architecture for collaboration”, Mr Dusek said.

“Do we actually measure human progress well? All people would agree, the GDP indicator is not sufficient [and] we have seen other indices and indicators being developed over the past few years. The council on new metrics will gather top economists that are really the top experts on economic and societal metrics and will be looking into other ideas that we have in terms of better capture of human progress,” he said.

To meet the opportunities and challenges from trade, climate change, geopolitics, and the fourth industrial revolution, countries will need to manage their sovereignty while remaining open to co-operation, he said.

This is of particular importance to the Arab world and wider region which is at a point where the urgency to address common interests is likely to overcome ideological differences, said Mr Dusek.

For example, sustainability and ecological risks are now perceived as being more important in the region than before. While the management of common issues has not been high on the agenda in the past, the increase in the frequency of humanitarian and water crises, for example, are changing that.

Mr Dusek said that there will be a focus over the next year on the resolution of shared issues in the Arab world through greater “outcome oriented” collaboration between nations that would otherwise in the past not have worked together because of a lack of full alignment of ideologies or values.

This trend is playing out more widely, amid a diffusion of power around the world, creating a multi-polar reality, he said.

“The UAE is the most globally integrated economy in the region and has always been a great ambassador of the global debate for the Middle East,” said Mr Dusek.

“In that sense, being able to translate some of these bigger trends through the regional dynamics, the UAE has a major role to play on all fronts.”

The fourth industrial revolution is taken very seriously by the UAE, he said, adding that the Forum is collaborating with the Emirates on the development of national policies for data.