Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 26 May 2019

World Government Summit: this year's speakers

IMF's Lagarde, Indian prime minister and Oscar winner among high-profile speakers at this year's summit

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will give the keynote speech at the World Government Summit in Dubai.  in Vadnagar, in the Indian state of Gujarat. PIB / AFP
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will give the keynote speech at the World Government Summit in Dubai. in Vadnagar, in the Indian state of Gujarat. PIB / AFP

Narendra Modi, prime minister of India

The Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, will be in Dubai, strengthening already close ties between India and the UAE, which include collaboration on the Emirates’ landmark mission to Mars. His country will be guest of honour as this year’s summit, when he will make an address on the opening day.

Mr Modi has been prime minister since May 2014, before that holding the office of Chief Minister of Gujarat state from 2001 to 2014. He is the member of parliament for Varanasi.

His journey began in the town of Vadnagar in North Gujarat’s Mehsana district. Born in 1950, he was the third of six children and his childhood was one of immense struggle and difficulty.

As a youngster, he helped his family run a tea stall at the local railway station to make ends meet. It was this passion to serve that drew him to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in 1972.

That allowed him to travel all over India, giving him a first-hand experience of its diversity and people’s challenges.

In 2013, he was made the chief of the BJP’s campaign committee for 2014 Lok Sabha Elections and was declared as the National Democratic Alliance’s prime ministerial candidate.

He has been a ray of hope in the lives of a billion Indians thanks to his focus on development and his ability to deliver results, which have made him one of India’s most popular leaders.

Christine Lagarde. Emmanuel Dunand / AFP
Christine Lagarde. Emmanuel Dunand / AFP

Christine Lagarde, managing director, IMF

Last year at the summit, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund gave a nuanced view of how rising populism around the world had resulted in a shifting global landscape. She told CNN’s Richard Quest during a keynote conversation on stage that the choice of the people had to be respected and that countries can still find a balance in order to navigate the positives and negatives of any political consequences.

This year, Ms Lagarde will join Mona Al Marri, the vice president of the UAE Gender Balance Council, to discuss gender budgeting for governments.

The French national has extensive experience of government, including the fields of trade and politics, having held the position of her country’s finance minister from June 2007 to July 2011 – the first woman to hold the post in a G7 country.

The former anti-trust and labour lawyer, who served as a partner with the international law firm Baker McKenzie for 20 years, was also the first woman appointed to lead the IMF and was re-elected for a second five-year term in July 2016.

As chairwoman of the G20 when France took over its presidency for 2011, she set in motion a wide-ranging agenda on the reform of the international monetary system.

Ms Laguarde, now 62, has been working to bring economic discipline to countries including the UK, Russia and China. She has also recently spoken about digital currencies and their potential to create disruption.

Arianna Huffington. Mike Blake / Reuters
Arianna Huffington. Mike Blake / Reuters

Arianna Huffington, founder, Thrive Global

Arianna Huffington, the founder of The Huffington Post and the founder and chief executive of Thrive Global, has authored 15 books, including Thrive and The Sleep Revolution, which depicts how sleep is not just vital for our health but also critical to helping us achieve our goals.

At this year’s summit, she will also give her views on the third women’s revolution on the second day of the event.

In May 2005, the Greek-American author launched The Huffington Post, a news and blog site that quickly became one of the most widely read, linked to and frequently cited media brands on the internet.

In 2012, she won a Pulitzer Prize for national reporting and launched Thrive Global in August 2016, a corporate and consumer well-being and productivity platform. Its aim was to change the way we work and live by ending the collective delusion that burnout is the price we must pay for success.

The platform provides training, seminars, e-courses, coaching and ongoing support based on the latest scientific findings to improve people’s health and increase productivity for both companies and individuals around the world.

Her last two books, Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder and The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night At A Time, on the science, history and mystery of sleep, became instant international bestsellers.

Huffington studied economics at the University of Cambridge and later moved to the United States.

Deepak Chopra. Francisco Guasco / EPA
Deepak Chopra. Francisco Guasco / EPA

Deepak Chopra, best-selling author

Deepak Chopra will offer his considerable wisdom during a summit session on hope in times of uncertainty, together with Ohood Al Roumi, Minister of State for Happiness and Well-being. Dr Chopra, the founder of his eponymous foundation and centre for well-being, has created Jiyo.com, a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation.

Dr Chopra is board certified in internal medicine, endocrinology and metabolism as well as a fellow of the American College of Physicians, a member of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and a clinical professor in medicine at the University of California in San Diego.

He has written more than 85 books, translated in more than 43 languages, of which 25 are New York Times bestsellers. One of his novels includes The Healing Self, which looks at how to better manage chronic stress and how to be your own medical advocate.

The 70-year-old Indian national also serves as an adjunct professor of executive programme at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and of Columbia Business School at Columbia University.

He has an online course on learning Ayurveda and earning ancient wisdom and practical techniques to create vibrant health and radiant balance for a unique mind-body type along with meditation sessions and health retreats.

The World Post and The Huffington Post global internet survey ranked Dr Chopra the 17th most influential thinker in the world and first in medicine.

Time magazine has described Dr Chopra as “one of the top 100 heroes and icons of the century”.

Maurice Levy. Eric Piermont / AFP
Maurice Levy. Eric Piermont / AFP

Maurice Lévy, chairman, Publicis

Maurice Lévy, the chairman of Publicis Groupe, one of the world’s most influential advertising agencies, will bring his considerable experience to bear on the topic of “how to brand a nation” during this year’s summit.

He joined the French advertising agency in 1971 as head of IT and soon became responsible for business development, including its international footprint, and in 1987, he succeeded the company’s founder as the chief executive, a post he held until last year.

For the past 15 years, he has been leading the group through accelerated transformation, mainly through acquisitions of early digital players and strategic partnerships with incoming media pioneers.

Today, Publicis provides a range of integrated communication, advertising marketing, digital technology and media services to its clients in 108 countries.

Moroccan-French Mr Lévy is seen as one of the most powerful men in advertising. The 75-year-old presides over several organisations and institutions.

He remains involved in the development of the French Institute for Brain and Spinal Cord disorders (ICM), which he cofounded.

He has also served on the French government commission to combat drug addiction, as well as the advisory committee of Banque de France, on the foundation board of the World Economic Forum and has been the president of the French Association of Private Companies.

Francis Fukuyama. Samuel Corum / Anadolu Agency / Getty
Francis Fukuyama. Samuel Corum / Anadolu Agency / Getty

Francis Fukuyama, political scientist

On day two of the summit, Francis Fukuyama, the American writer and political theorist, will discuss the topic “overwriting history: the future of global governance and net states”.

He is known for his belief that the triumph of liberal democracy at the end of the Cold War marked the last ideological stage in the progression of human history.

Dr Fukuyama is an Olivier Nomellini senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI), and the Mosbacher director of FSI’s Centre on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law.

The 65-year-old professor of political science was born in Chicago and attended the universities of Cornell, Yale and Harvard, where he studied classics and political science.

He has written widely on issues in development and international politics.

His book The End of History and the Last Man was published by Free Press in 1992 and has appeared in more than 20 foreign editions.

His most recent book, Political Order and Political Decay: From the Industrial Revolution to the Globalisation of Democracy, was published in September 2014.

Dr Fukuyama taught at the Paul H Nitze School of ­Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of Johns Hopkins University and at George Mason University’s School of Public Policy. He served as a member of the President’s Council on Bioethics from 2001 to 2004.

Forest Whitaker at the World Government Summit 2018 in Dubai. Valerie Macon / AFP
Forest Whitaker at the World Government Summit 2018 in Dubai. Valerie Macon / AFP

Forest Whitaker, actor and activist

Academy Award winning actor Forest Whitaker has built on almost four decades of work on stage and screen to become an accomplished activist via his NGO the Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative.

Founded in 2012, the organisation develops programmes, initiatives and campaigns to foster peace and reconciliation in disadvantaged and fragile communities in the different regions of the world, including Africa, Latin America and the United States and in particular mobilising youth.

At the summit in Dubai he will be discussing the theme of “women and youth: the catalyst to solve global challenges” together with Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Co-operation.

Whitaker is also a Unesco special envoy for peace and reconciliation, and a member of the United Nations sustainable development goals advocacy group. In 2007, he won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland. He is also an experienced film director and producer.

Jim Yong Kim. Zach Gibson / AFP
Jim Yong Kim. Zach Gibson / AFP

Jim Yong Kim, president, World Bank

During a main address at the 2017 summit, Jim Yong Kim focused on efforts to tackle the Syrian refugee crisis and the importance of advancing education across the Middle East.

He has been the 12th president of the World Bank Group since July 2012 and has co-ordinated $400 million in assistance from nine countries toward those hosting refugees.

Dr Kim’s career has revolved around health, education and improving the lives of the poor. On day two of this year’s summit, Dr Kim will examine why it is important for governments to invest in human capital.

Soon after joining the World Bank, two goals were established to guide its work, including ending extreme poverty by 2030 and boosting shared prosperity, focusing on the bottom 40 per cent of the population in low and middle-income countries.

Before joining the World Bank, Dr Kim was a physician and anthropologist and served as the president of Dartmouth College. He also held professorships at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health.

From 2003 to 2005, as director of the World Health Organisation’s HIV/Aids department, he led the “3 by 5” initiative – the first global goal for Aids treatment, which expanded access to antiretroviral medication in developing countries.

In 1987, the now 58-year-old cofounded Partners In Health, a non-profit medical organisation that works in poor communities on four continents.

Malcolm Gladwell doesn't accept anything at face value. Bryan Bedder / Getty
Malcolm Gladwell doesn't accept anything at face value. Bryan Bedder / Getty

Malcolm Gladwell, world renowned author

Malcolm Gladwell is a journalist and the author of five New York Times bestsellers – The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers, What the Dog Saw and David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants.

His work topples the popular understanding of bias, crime, food, marketing, race, consumers and intelligence. He will be in Dubai on the third day of the summit to talk about how he sees humanity’s future.

The 54-year-old Canadian national was born in the UK and grew up in rural Ontario.

Resident in New York, he has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1996. Before that, he was a reporter at The Washington Post.

In 2001, he was awarded the National Magazine Award for profiles, for his New Yorker piece The Pitchman, about Ron Popeil, the inventor and marketer.

Gladwell says his great claim to fame is that he is from the town where the BlackBerry was invented. He also says his family believe that they are distantly related to Colin Powell.

Some of his quotes include: “There can be as much value in the blink of an eye as in months of rational analysis.”

He has been named one of the 100 most influential people by Time magazine and one of Foreign Policy’s top global thinkers.


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Updated: February 10, 2018 04:07 PM