x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Eminent panel for regional forum

DUBAI // The first American woman to walk in space, a Dubai environmentalist and a leading heart surgeon will be part of a diverse 18-person panel at a public debate on regional issues. The Rolex Middle East Forum, which is free to the public, will have three sessions focused on issues including the state of science and innovation in the Middle East and North Africa, the preservation of cultural heritage and the natural environment and the role and potential of Arab women.

The forum is part of a series of UAE events planned around this year's Rolex Awards for Enterprise ceremony and will be moderated by Hala Gorani, a CNN International presenter, and Georges Kordahi, a local television presenter. The UAE Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, will be the opening speaker at the daylong forum on Nov 19 in the Madinat Jumeirah hotel in Dubai.

The surgeon, Sir Magdi Yacoub, the astronaut, Dr Kathryn Sullivan, and the chairman of the Emirates Environmental Group, Habiba al Marashi, are among the panelists. "We are convening this special high-level forum in the UAE because we believe in the region's potential for innovation and enterprise," said Rebecca Irvin, the director of the Geneva-based awards. "There will be plenty of opportunities for members of the public to interact with the panelists and to ask questions, which is perhaps something new for the region, as most discussions take place behind closed doors."

Ms Irvin said organisers of the debate were keen to engage young people in the discussion. "We're interested in providing role models for young people," she said. " Dr Tayeb Kamali, vice chancellor of the UAE Higher Colleges of Technology, is among the panelists confirmed for the forum. Other regional speakers include Sayyid al Busaidi, adviser to the Omani minister of environment, and Dr Meshgan al Awar, director of the research and studies centre of the Dubai Police Academy.

Ms Marashi is among the 44 nominees shortlisted for a US$100,000 (Dh367,000) Rolex Award for Enterprise. Winners will be announced on Nov 18. jau@thenational.ae