Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 9 December 2019

Milken MENA summit 2019: From billionaires to investment supremos, six people to watch

The Milken Institute's Mena Summit in Abu Dhabi runs Tuesday and Wednesday

Sean Parker, co-founder of Napster. Michael Brochstein via Getty Images
Sean Parker, co-founder of Napster. Michael Brochstein via Getty Images

Technology gurus, billionaire investors and environment chiefs are set to descend on Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, in an effort to address some of the region's biggest challenges.

Topics under discussion will include the growing threat to MENA's environmental sustainability, the ongoing refugee crisis and youth unemployment.

More than 1,000 dignitaries, academics and world leaders are expected to attend the two-day conference. Here are six key figures taking part:

Sir Richard Branson

Sir Richard Branson will be speaking at the summit in Abu Dhabi. Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg
Sir Richard Branson will be speaking at the summit in Abu Dhabi. Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg

It is hard to believe now but the billionaire founder of the Virgin Group started off as the head of a mail order business.

From this sprang the first retail outlet of Virgin Records on London’s Oxford Street.

And from there Virgin developed into a record label - resigning the punk legends The Sex Pistols to huge success.

Airlines, a mobile phone network, finance and a rail franchise followed.

Branson also founded Virgin Galactic - its space tourism business - which he wants to begin commercial space flights.

Branson is also known for his record-breaking exploits. He entered the history books with the first successful transatlantic crossing in a hot air balloon in 1987.

He speaks on Tuesday about how he wants to "democratise" space.

Noura Al Kaabi

Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, Noura Al Kaabi. Wam  
Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, Noura Al Kaabi. Wam  

Appointed as the Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development in 2017, Ms Al Kaabi has spearheaded the UAE’s soft power agenda.

She is a visible presence at major cultural events in the UAE and internationally, such as during the visit of Chinese president, Xi Jinping, last year.

She has also been centrally involved in a UAE-funded project to rebuild Mosul’s famous Al Nuri Grand Mosque in Iraq.

She previously held the post of Minister of State for Federal National Council Affairs and is also current president of Zayed University.

Ms Al Kaabi will discuss culture and soft power on Wednesday.

Paul Kagame

Paul Kagame, the Rwandan president. Fabrice Coffrini / AFP
Paul Kagame, the Rwandan president. Fabrice Coffrini / AFP

It is estimated some 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed by Hutu forces in 100 days during Rwanda’s civil war in 1994.

Kagame was then commander of the Rwandan Patriotic Front, which fought to end the conflict and stop the genocide.

He became president of the country in 2000 and since then has slowly rebuilt Rwanda’s shattered economy on the back of its tea and coffee exports, while tourism is also being encouraged.

Kagame has been praised for his role in the recovery, but has also faced criticism from some quarters over his human rights record.

He is an avid user of social media and will appear at the summit on Wednesday to discuss the future for Africa.

Sean Parker

Sean Parker. Bloomberg
Sean Parker. Bloomberg

In 1999, a new website arguably changed the music industry forever. Napster was a free file-sharing site that allowed people to swap music over the internet.

Co-founded by Parker, Napster’s popularity exploded, with millions of users within a year. As the industry struggled to put the genie back in the bottle, Napster was famously sued by the heavy metal band Metallica and was eventually closed by the courts.

Today, many consider the site to have laid the groundwork for platforms such as iTunes and Spotify.

Parker went on to become Facebook’s founding president and was played by Justin Timberlake in The Social Network, a 2010 film about the networking site.

He is now the head of the Parker Foundation, a multi-million-dollar philanthropic fund.

He is speaking on Tuesday regarding how data can help find cures to diseases.

Khaldoon Al Mubarak

Khaldoon Al Mubarak, Chief Executive of Mubadala. Getty Images
Khaldoon Al Mubarak, Chief Executive of Mubadala. Getty Images

He may be more widely known as chairman of all-conquering Manchester City Football Club, but Mr Al Mubarak serves in a number of important Abu Dhabi government roles.

He is managing director and group chief executive of Mubadala, an investment vehicle tasked with diversifying Abu Dhabi’s economy.

He is also a member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and the UAE Supreme Petroleum Council.

Mr Al Mubarak was instrumental in bringing Formula 1 to Abu Dhabi in 2008 as chairman of the Abu Dhabi Motor Sport Management Company.

He will speak on Tuesday on the current global economic outlook.

Razan Al Mubarak

Razan Al Mubarak, head of the Mohammed Bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund. The National
Razan Al Mubarak, head of the Mohammed Bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund. The National

Front and centre of Abu Dhabi’s conservation efforts, Ms Al Mubarak is managing director of the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi and the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund which supports conservation efforts in dozens of countries across the globe.

In 2018, the EAD completed its most comprehensive survey ever of the UAE’s demersal fish stocks which will inform a comprehensive fisheries recovery plan for the UAE.

Last year, Ms Al Mubarak was selected by the World Economic Forum as one of the top 100 young sector leaders who contribute to building a more sustainable future for humankind.

Ms Al Mubarak will speak on Tuesday regarding efforts to drive sustainable business practices in the Gulf region.

Updated: February 12, 2019 08:42 AM

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