What will the world look like in 2030? Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Nezar Andary, Charlotte Tilbury and more offer their predictions
We ask 15 experts in their industries, such as Etihad's Tony Douglas and Alserkal's Vilma Jurkute, to imagine what the next decade may hold
From the UAE’s publishing industry to global food security and our local arts scene, the decade ahead promises to be full of transformation. Climate change, fostering tolerance and a lack of resources are just a few of the major challenges the world faces as we head into a new era. In a bid to understand how we might tackle such issues, we’ve asked leaders in their fields to weigh in on what they think the world will look like in the year 2030 …
Books: Isobel Abulhoul
Chief executive and trustee, Emirates Literature Foundation
“I think the largest question facing humanity is the climate crisis. That will dictate the responses from the publishing industry worldwide. Physical books are made from paper and, certainly in Europe, a major number of publishers only print on paper from sustainable forests or recycled paper. I am sure UAE publishers will swiftly follow suit.
“Audible books are the fastest-growing sector of the publishing industry, and that has already begun in the UAE. E-books are firmly established and work particularly well for mass-market paperbacks. I think physical books will become collectors’ items, but I sincerely hope that for children there will always be physical books, as nothing can replicate the experience of having a picture book in your hands, reading to youngsters. The reality of a book is potent and has been part of humankind’s journey over the ages, recording each milestone. We must never lose sight of the importance of the written word.
“I am confident the UAE publishing industry will grow and innovate over the next decade and provide specialist training so that the necessary skill sets are available here, so nothing needs to be outsourced any more.”
Fashion: Sass Brown
Eco-fashion author, activist and educator
“I believe we are in the middle of a global crisis, a crisis of conscience, of values, of monetary systems, of ways of life. The models we have lived by are no longer working, nor fit for purpose and we are fast reaching a tipping point where business as usual will no longer be accepted.
“The fashion industry has been called out publicly for transgression after transgression this past year, symbolic of a system that is woefully out of sync with the cultural shift we are experiencing. The #givecredit hashtag has been used to call out mainstream fashion on cultural appropriation and big-name brands have been called out for casual racism and discrimination, from Prada’s blackface bag charm and Gucci’s red lip turtleneck to Burberry’s noose hoodie. This highlights the beginning of the end of a system.
“Over the next 10 years, the acceptance of racism, cultural appropriation and sexism as part of life will no longer be tolerated in and by the mainstream fashion industry. It is no longer enough for a brand to minimise waste, participate in carbon offsetting, employ a head of corporate social responsibility or establish a diversity committee. We have to change everything we do and how we do it, or fashion will have no place in our world by 2030.”
Aviation: Tony Douglas
Group chief executive, Etihad Aviation Group
“Global demand for air travel continues to soar. In 2020, the International Air Transport Association expects passenger journeys to exceed 4.7 billion, and by 2030 this will grow to well over six billion. Two-thirds of the world’s population live within six hours’ flying time of the UAE, including China and India, aviation’s fastest-growing markets. So, Abu Dhabi and Etihad will play critical roles in accommodating these huge volumes.
“The biggest single issue for our industry in the coming decade is to become more environmentally sustainable. The surge in travel demand simply can’t be met without significant innovation, and investment in sustainable practices, capital and infrastructure.
“I see Abu Dhabi, and the wider UAE, growing as a centre of aviation innovation over the next decade, and we are proud to have taken a small step on this long journey through the launch of the ‘Etihad Greenliner’. This aircraft will be a test bed for the whole industry to identify innovative solutions to reduce carbon emissions and we urge manufacturers, suppliers, designers and inventors to collaborate with us to make a positive impact on the environment. We’re all in it together.”
Education: Michael Gernon
Chief education innovation officer, Gems Education
“I firmly believe that the nature of schools and schooling will have undergone radical transformation by 2030. Advancements in artificial intelligence, automation, the Internet of Things, cloud and quantum computing are shaping the world in which we live and how society will need to adapt. Students will have entered a world where cognitive agility and adaptability will be key, and educators need to create several initiatives to advance technology skills.
“By 2030, classrooms and the school day will have given way to personalised playlists for students potentially navigating a range of providers. Schools will be facilitators of bespoke, on-demand provision both virtually and physically. The lens will have also shifted towards developing a range of future-focused skills and capabilities. Self-directed learning, empathy, physical and virtual collaboration, conflict resolution, agility and adaptability, and leading by influence, will become the new ‘core subjects’ and delivered through a range of Extended Realities [immersive technologies that merge physical and virtual worlds].
“Within this, teachers will have greater responsibility and focus. Social, emotional and ethical intelligence applied to both ‘self’ and ‘situation’, and viewed through a technologically focused lens, will be the new pedagogy. They will move from subject / knowledge delivery to be expert coaches and facilitators to support, advise and guide students to navigate their future learning.”
Restaurants: Nicolas Budzynski
Global operations director, La Petite Maison
“I personally feel restaurants will go in two clear directions over the next 10 years: modern, technology-orientated and authentic. Like the internet and social media development, or any other related technologies, food will get influenced. Modernity and technologies will be used for the look and feel of restaurants, but also for the food served, as more ingredients and foods are processed. This is whether we talk about high-end experimental food – as concepts like Alinea in Chicago or chefs like Mike Bagale [creator of the edible balloon] continue to push boundaries – but also casual concepts, as big companies will continue to develop new fast food, like the recent Impossible burger.
“On the other side, the health and environmentally conscious will go back to authenticity and qualitative food ingredients. A big part of the population will no doubt want to go back to real food with real taste.
“Areas to watch over the next decade are the plant-based food industry and the increase in consumption of micro-greens. How we as restaurateurs and chefs will work with these developments remains to be seen.”
Film: Nezar Andary
Filmmaker and associate professor of film and literature, Zayed University
“This is my manifesto for Arab cinema in 2030: the sacred dark cinema room for collective viewing will thrive as in the 1930s, and in new ways we have yet to imagine. All over the world, cinema and visual culture education will begin in primary schools and create better audiences. Audiences will commit to supporting the many forms of cinematic expression from their own countries and not only what is given to them. Arab cinema as a peripheral form will not exist, but a true World Cinema will take its place. People of different classes, identities, cultures and geographies in the Arab world will create more diverse forms of cinema. Arab filmmakers and programmers will cease to pander to the western gaze. The financing of Arab cinema will be self-sufficient, breaking from its dependence on states and global economic interests. Immersive and virtual reality cinema will find a home. The hypnotic algorithms of online giants will lose their grip on public consciousness, giving way to broader cinematic horizons for all.
“There will also be a return of brave film critique. Film festivals will be more inclusive. And cinema will remain a place for thinkers, artists and dreamers.”
Oil and gas: Abdul Nasser Al Mughairbi
Senior vice president, digital, Adnoc
“Some of the game-changing technologies of today that will become the norm by 2030 include the use of AI for autonomous operations on platforms in remote areas. AI and robotics will also enable fully automated drilling, allowing us to go deeper into more difficult reservoirs and change the way we look at field development.
“Big data and analytics will no longer play a ‘secondary’ role in the oil and gas industry, but will be embedded into the core of everything the industry does across the value chain. The use of blockchain will also become a standard practice for auditing and data verification, allowing for improved and transparent workflow management, and 3D printing will also help reduce costs and turnaround times for spare parts, propelling rapid prototyping.
“Lastly, the expanded use of virtual reality environments will enable hands-free and immersive experiences, and allow for faster and more accurate decision-making, while wearable technology will enhance workers’ safety.”
Journalism: Mina Al-Oraibi
Editor-in-chief, The National
“‘Will you still be printing the newspaper a decade from now?’ That is the question most posed to newspaper editors. The answer is, it depends – on commercial realities, user behaviour and technology. It will greatly depend on whether there will still be readers who appreciate not only the feel of paper in their hands, but also the curation of a newspaper. Having a physical copy presents readers with selected stories, within a specific timeframe, and a deeper analysis. There are abundant studies that show reading from paper, rather than a screen, ensures information is retained. As more and more people want to limit screen time and rest their eyes, printed publications will still be around.
“However, for those not looking for printed news or stories, audio is the big trend that will impact the media industry. As voice-enabled devices get smarter and cheaper, more and more people will receive their stories in audio format. Radio’s ability to survive despite the rise of television and video content is a strong example of the strength of audio.
“While good journalism will stay rooted in traditional standards of newsgathering, technology will continue to upend norms. 5G will inevitably mean more video, and more demand for speed in delivering stories. Cisco expects that 82 per cent of all global internet traffic will be video traffic by 2022, up from 75 per cent in 2017. And more people will be getting their information from mobile devices, with Cisco expecting that smartphones will account for 44 per cent of all internet traffic, with PCs accounting for 19 per cent.
“As more audiences get news directly on their devices, they will require greater personalisation and control over how they get their news and when. Machine learning will impact some of that decision-making, but the hope is they will still trust human editors to get the stories that matter to them.”
Aviation: Mikhail Houari
President for Africa and the Middle East, Airbus
“Autonomous flying taxis, aircraft mimicking geese and emissions-free flights connecting the Middle East’s megacities could all become a reality from 2030.
“The year will be the doorstep to a decade that embraces technology that will transform air travel to an even cleaner and greener mode of transport, capable of meeting increased passenger demand in sustainable ways.
“Our skies will be busier. Over the next 20 years, megacities in the Middle East are set to more than double, while UAE passenger numbers are projected to grow by 5.8 per cent every year. Even the number of aircraft serving the UAE will almost treble by 2038 to around 1,730 from 630 today.
“Research and development into electric battery-powered flights and autonomous air taxis are already a reality for the industry, as reducing aviation’s carbon footprint is a key priority. Autonomous flight has great potential to have a positive impact on society from 2030 and will truly influence urban mobility that can stimulate new business opportunities, creating new markets.”
Food production: Sky Kurtz
Founder and chief executive, Pure Harvest
“By 2050, we will need to produce 70 per cent more food to meet the needs of a 9.5 billion-plus growing global population. The many seeds of necessary change are being planted now, such as controlled-environment agriculture innovations, alternative-to-meat proteins, and increasing awareness of food’s impact on the planet, health and happiness. However, by 2030, these changes will be felt on a global scale. Technology and awareness-led behavioural change will transform both how we make food and how we consume it, working together to turn the tide on what many in 2030 will fear is a losing battle.
“In 2030, governments will have fully embraced the severity of these challenges and will be at war with freshwater scarcity – which goes hand-in-hand with food scarcity, as 70 per cent of freshwater is used in agriculture. Water will be treated (and priced) more closely to its true value, which will be a hot topic in both governments and boardrooms across the globe. Food production will be increasingly localised in developed economies, improving food security, reducing carbon footprint and reflecting mankind’s progress toward the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, while mirroring sweeping changes to consumer preferences.
“Lastly, consumers will begin to accept, and some even love, alternative proteins; however, animal protein will still be the ‘meat’ of choice for those who can afford it. In 2030, many will be eating healthier and the planet will thank us for it.”
Beauty: Charlotte Tilbury
Make-up artist and founder of Charlotte Tilbury Beauty Ltd
“The beauty industry has always been one of the most forward thinking, magical and experimental sectors in business. Since I started my career more than 27 years ago, there has been so much change and progression and now, as we enter a new decade, I believe that the game-changing, pioneering nature of this industry will continue. From the introduction of breakthrough ingredients such as Replexium and new innovations in formulas to incredible advances in technology, I believe there is a huge future in beauty tech that will completely revolutionise the way women and men shop for beauty.
“We will also see a huge shift in skincare – with supercharged products that will not only change everyone’s skin, but their lives, too. During the next decade, I want even more people to truly embrace the power of beauty.”
Waste: Dr Jean-Francois Hoffmann
Co-founder and chief operating officer, Seramic Materials at Masdar Tech Park
“The uncertainty of the world’s future industries in 2030 can best be summed up by a quote from celebrated physicist Niels Bohr: ‘Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.’
“However, a near-certainty is that the population will continue to grow and in turn lead to an over-consumption of natural resources, increasing the carbon footprint impact. Heavy industries will produce more to meet rising demand, with limited and depleting natural resources. The quantity of waste generated will increase significantly, leading to waste management and environmental issues. To limit these impacts, heavy industries should evolve towards a global vision of a circular economy approach, using each other’s waste as feedstock.
“More specifically in the UAE, a few waste-to-energy plants are currently under construction to divert municipal solid waste from landfill while producing green electricity in line with governmental waste and energy objectives.
“Seramic Materials Ltd. is developing a patented solution to recycle industrial solid waste into sustainable and affordable value-added ceramic products. These locally manufactured recycled products take the form of technical ceramics (for example, thermal energy storage materials) and construction materials (tiles, cladding, bricks).”
Exploration: Sir Ranulph Fiennes
“In setting world records in polar travel, we only have two poles to compete upon and those records have pretty much all been broken. The only one that hasn’t, and still might not have been by 2030, is to cross Antarctica during the polar winter, which we failed to do after three years of planning about three years ago.
“When we were down there setting records in 1979 there were no polar orbiting satellites. No satnav or GPS. We were in the 1970s, using the same means of knowing where we were or what direction to travel in, in a featureless landscape bigger than America, with the same instruments as Shackleton and Scott in 1908 ... The change between now and 2030 will be huge.
“Our rivals are usually the Norwegians, and we don’t know what they’re up to, but they’re constantly trying, as are we. Either they or we probably will have done it by some new means. Maybe Elon Musk will have come up with some strange snow machine that whisks you across Antarctica.
“By 2030, there will be some room for exploration, not by gung-ho people like us – man against the elements and hard travel – but by scientific students who’ll explore maybe in the forests of Brazil, where there have been previous botanists, but by 2030 they’ll be able to discover with new instruments and equipment, new plants with fantastic medical abilities and that sort of thing.
“Almost certainly they won’t have explored the depths of the oceans in many places and they’ll have submarines that go deeper.
“But the doomsday scenario of tsunamis and volcanic eruptions and running out of water in some places and having too much in others, that’s going to affect things in a big way. As people can’t survive in drought areas, they will and already are going into their neighbours’ countries where civil wars will start.”
Food: Annabel Karmel
Children’s cookbook author
“One of my predictions for 2030 is that babies from a young age will be exposed to (and enjoy) more adventurous flavours. Parents today have much more confidence in the kitchen and I think this will only continue to grow.
“Another trend here to stay is veganism. It is still very much on the rise and showing no signs of stopping. We have become extremely conscious of what we eat along with what we are feeding our children, and this is due to both the health and environmental implications. There are lots of health benefits associated with veganism and, while a vegan diet can certainly work for adults, for little ones, a strict plant-based diet needs close management. My prediction is that when it comes to weaning babies and looking at the baby food industry, there will be a shift towards being more vegetarian-friendly rather than vegan. I would also like to believe that by 2030 we will have substitutes for beef and chicken, for example, that not only taste like the originals, but actually match in nutritional value, too.
“I also foresee a reduction in childhood allergies, as more information is coming out on how to help prevent allergies.
“Finally, I think there will be much more access to ‘fast food’. I mean the convenience of good food almost instantaneously – just look at the success of food delivery apps and how we can access dishes from our favourite restaurants simply through the click of a button on our phones.”
Art: Vilma Jurkute
“Over the past 10 years, the creative economy has propelled the region to the forefront of the international cultural landscape. Organisations that deliver their public promise with integrity and sustainability will further challenge short-termism and reductive thinking, which are, at times, attached to the value of work cultural precincts produce.
“By envisioning cultural clusters as social synergies rather than built environments driven by economic logic, we have a unique opportunity for experimental and context-specific models similar to that of Alserkal’s to emerge in the region within the next decade.
“Therefore, sustainable homegrown ecosystems driven by multi-localism will become of great importance to the region’s maturing arts infrastructure and local community development. Younger generations will play a fundamental role in shaping this future discourse within the creative realm, therefore access to opportunity is essential to consider. By making it easier for home-grown cultural producers to further innovate, new histories and meanings within context-specific situations will shape new structures for belonging and enhancing social, environmental and economic sustainability.”
Answers are presented as contributed except where edited for style and brevity
Updated: January 2, 2020 08:47 AM