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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

The National Future Forum live: Global trends shaping tomorrow

Thought leaders from around the world descend on Abu Dhabi to map today’s trends that will shape our future. Follow us live here

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3.30pm: Closing remarks

Announcement 1: we will be hiring a 'future editor' at The National, a regional first.

2: We will be having "future deep dives", subject areas we will be looking into deeper, working with industry leaders.

3. The Future of Journalism Competition: 16-21 year-olds across the world who want to come and tell us where the future of journalism is heading.

4. The National Fellows: The Emirati Youth Council has identified six fellows to work with us in informing editorial drive but also to open our doors wider and ensure we are always learning.

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3pm: The Future of News - Raju Narisetti, the former CEO of Gizmodo Media Group, Tom Thomson, former Asia editor for Reuters, Christian Broughton, editor of The Independent, and Editor-In-Chief of The National, Mina Al-Oraibi

Tom F: Where are the people who haven't kept up with technology, or the Kodaks, and where are the Airbnbs, who have kept up, for the news business?

Christian: "We're fully online and the business is flying and the journalism is as influential as it's ever been." However, it's not "always about being the latest platform", he said, as news organisations needed to withstand the test of time.

Mina: Outlets need to personalise and engage directly with a consumer, she said. People will still want "reliable, smart news".

Tom F: But to do that do you need to pay for it?

Raju: TV might not keep up with technology, he said, as it will need to diversify its revenue stream to stay relevant.

Tom T: "We gave it [news] away like toothpaste, thinking the money would come." However, what has become clearer is that people are willing to pay for trusted news, and subscriptions would soon play a key role, he said.

Organisations need to sustain print in the short term, and transition news online, which is where subscriptions would continue to play a big role.

Tom F: How do we survive the fake news era?

Christian: "It's been growing and amplified because the people using it have something to be gained by using the phrase." The way to defeat it is "great journalism and trust", he said, but also to reconnect with audiences and "form the kind of relationships we had in the print era". People once bought print subscriptions because their parents once did, and it was important to bring that back in to mainstream thinking.

Mina: "The only way we're going to be able to combat fake media is to show that trusted brand and trusted outlets are accurate and do their fact checking and put their hands up when they get something wrong." However, these days people also trust their friends and what their friends are sharing - which leads to people resharing posts they have no idea where it's come from, she said.

"We have to redefine what is news and what we own and what we're responsible for."

Raju: "Our industry is also to blame." Media literacy is important to regain trust, and he believes we have "walked away from that" in schools.

Newsrooms were also often "white and male", and the industry relies too much on "tummy compass, or the gut feeling", whereas outlets like Facebook rely on data, he said.

Tom F: What about AI?

Tom T: Reuters uses artificial intelligence a lot, and I think AI will become very important, but won't remove the human element.

Christian: "Fundamentally, [journalism] is a human task." There is plenty of data, he said, but it will not succeed without the human element. But there are tools that can help journalists, such as technology that informs journalists about posting times or headlines, but it needs a journalist to oversee it, he said.

Mina: There are different stories. Scores of the latest football match don't need a person to write, but if you want someone to give you a blow-by-blow account of what happened needs someone "with a creative mind", she said.

Tom F: Are there moments you will prioritise things on social media that you know where the money will be, over another story?

Mina: You have to consider what's important for your audience, but your audience is now segmented. We're still investing a lot of money and a lot of resources in the stories we think need to be told.

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - May 8th, 2018: L-R Tom Thomson, Christian Broughton and Tom Fletcher speak about the future of news at The National's Future Forum. Tuesday, May 8th, 2018 at Manarat Al Saadiyat, Abu Dhabi. Chris Whiteoak / The National
L-R Tom Thomson, Christian Broughton and Tom Fletcher speak about the future of news at The National's Future Forum. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Raju: The culture of a newsroom is set by the people who run the newsroom. Today's front pages were all on the election results in Lebanon, but chances are many people won't be interested. But you can't not have that on your homepage.

Tom T: Data is useful as a tool, but it should only be used as an aid.

Christian: During the transition most of our high value writers wouldn't necessarily get to the top of Chartbeat.

"[It's about] not ignoring the tough questions but rethinking them."

Tom F: What's your advice to young journalists?

Tom T: You need basic multimedia skills but above all you need curiosity.

Mina: Curiosity, and journalistic skills. Honing skills like researching and how to do an interview. But also to be aware that these days you're competing against the rest of the world. She added that you need to constantly be ahead of the curve.

Raju: Ability to engage on multiple platforms and the skills it requires is important - such as things like podcasting or video. Changing the idea from communicating to engaging. Also, learn another language.

Christian: Have fun, it's an amazing industry to be in. But also to keep learning. Remember why you entered the industry - those values that you bring with you won't change.

Audience question: how do media keep up in a world of influencers?

Raju: Journalism has always had people that are larger than life, the difference is they always used to work for a publication - now they can access people directly. But outlets like The National has some incredible columnists, and I think we're doing a pretty good job in keeping up.

Tom T: Columnists from trusted brands have more credibility. It comes back to building the brand and having integrity.

Audience question: What about the blurring of fact and opinion? And the speed of news?

Christian: The Independent champions opinion, he said, as "everyone is telling a story these days". He said it was important to get past the initial facts and quotations, but in the pursuit of truth.

Raju: Fact-checking now needs to be instantaneous. We tend to associate a lot of negativity of speed, but the ability to correct mistakes is a lot faster and a lot more real time.

Mina: There's the issue now that everything is about perspective, we find that people love opinionated pieces. She spoke of emotional responses to a story, but balancing that with not taking away from fact checking and the integrity of the facts.

Audience: how has the speed and social media changed how you will not communicate about a topic?

Raju: A lesson that needs to be learned is strategic silence and we need to not jump on everything. Objectivity has caused problems, too.

Christian: There are some stories that you don't want to give the oxygen and publicity to... but sometimes there's an obligation to cover those stories.

Mina: "Newspapers and newspaper editors get a lot of bad rap that you're always focusing on negative news... but sometimes the events are too big to not put it on the front page." Readers demand the most important or impactful story of the day, she said, and it drives political decisions and all the fallout that comes with it.

Tom F: What about the UAE?

Mina: "The people who come through here are global, so we can talk about global trends. This is the country of the future and we have an edge on covering that."

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Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - May 8th, 2018: L-R Loubna Hadid and Katherine Garrett-Cox speak about The future of money and investment at The National's Future Forum. Tuesday, May 8th, 2018 at Manarat Al Saadiyat, Abu Dhabi. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Left to right, Loubna Hadid and Katherine Garrett-Cox speak about the future of money and investment at The National's Future Forum. Chris Whiteoak / The National

2.30pm: The Future of Money and Investment - Katherine Garrett-Cox, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Gulf International Bank (UK) Ltd, Loubna Hadid, Founder and CEO at Decenture, a socially conscious Blockchain enterprise - moderated by Gavin Esler

Gavin: Will money cease to exist?

Loubna: The short answer is it will, but she asks, "to what extent?".

"We are foreseeing that in the next couple of years, that Sweden will be the next cashless society." But it doesn't come without its disadvantages, she said.

Gavin: but what about taxes?

Katherine: "In 2016, the notes in circulation grew by up to 10 per cent, which is the fastest growth in a decade." She said most people couldn't imagine a cashless society.

It is coming, she said, but things like contactless has "incredibly low level of penetration", and people still prefer using cash day-to-day.

Gavin: where does blockchain figure in all this then?

Katherine: "One of the things people tend to forget about cryptocurrencies is that it's very slow. Visa can process thousands of transactions a second, but cryptocurrency can only process seven."

Loubna: Cryptocurrency is the first iteration of new currency, she said, and agreed there was a lot to be done.

Gavin: What do you mean by being socially-conscious?

Loubna: "We all like doing something good for the environment to help us evolve." There is a stigma that it is a PR stunt or friendly capitalism, she said, but believes corporate social responsibility should not be a business function. It should remain in its own realm and aligned with values and mission of the company. We are held accountable, she said, to make sure our purpose is aligned with that of the higher education sector.

"It's something I am incredibly passionate about."

Katherine: "If you speak to a lot of CFOs they will say they spend a lot of money trying to get it right - do people actually care? I think they do."

But she said the longest conversations she's had in hiring people recently has been about values, and it's something millennials hold in high regards.

Gavin: There are more CEOs on the fortune 500 companies list called James than there are women. That's really quite shocking isn't it?

Katherine: "What I understand about inclusive capitalism isn't necessarily gender focused[...] we've come a long way."

She said from experience of leading such high profile companies, is "it's a pretty lonely role".

"I worry a lot because good people won't choose positions of leadership because it's not all it's cracked up to be."

She said it was important to create the right environment at the top levels, as sometimes people felt like they were "slim pickings" when they put themselves out there.

Gavin: Will demand for regulation continue?

Loubna: Probably. It's a good thing for consumers, but the corporate world will think of it differently.

Katherine: The point of regulation is to protect consumers. However, she "does sometimes wonder if the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction".

The future will bring about "blurring of the lines", and believes it will be tough to be a regulator - figuring out how exactly to protect consumers.

Gavin: How far are you broadly optimistic that these changes are actually going to end up making our world better than it is now?

Loubna: I'm an optimistic person, always see the glass half full. I have high hopes for blockchain technology, not only in high level education but in healthcare and beyond. She said technology will benefit consumers and the taxpayer eventually.

Katherine: "The future of money and investment is really bright for those who want to embrace it." People will either change and adapt, or be like the dinosaurs and become extinct, she said. There are plenty of opportunities available to us, she said, and those who stick their heads in the sand will be the dinosaurs.

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1.45pm: The Future of Education - Saleh Al Hashemi, Managing Director at Krypto Labs

Fifty per cent of people do not have access to education, and many of them do not have access to good quality education, Mr Al Hashemi says.

His five core ideas in the future of education are: utilising physical space efficiently, making education more holistic, leveraging a mixed mode delivery, adopt distributed learning space and embedding technology into education.

Another huge issue educators were currently facing was obesity. Holistic systems were imperative to tackling this, he said.

Artificial intelligence would soon also be intrinsic to education.

It would help to predict academic performance, speed up administrative processes, evaluate and optimise teacher performance and create personalised learning experiences.

Mr Al Hasemi went through an example in which students were found to be lagging behind, and showed how mapping could be used to see exactly where the students were struggling and what areas they were finding the most difficult.

He said collecting data would be vital in advancing education systems.

"For education to be scaled up [...] you need a holistic system."

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1.30pm: The Future of Big Data - Steffen Damborg, Expert Advisor, WAN-IFRA Global Advisory

When Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post, they looked at Amazon's recommended and personalised experience for consumers, and noticed a huge improvement in click-through rates and positive engagement, Mr Damborg says.

They are now looking at technology that can predict how a piece of content will be perform, and employing artificial intelligence in helping to write headlines for a story. While the technology was not quite complete yet, it was likely to be soon, and could revolutionise the way a story was crafted, Mr Damborg said.

"We should be learning and teaching the young generations, things that can be done with computers."

Subjects like math may soon only be only done on computers. The same applies for journalism, Mr Damborg said.

"We have to focus on high quality content, but let the machines focus on the curation."

However, we must also take into consideration all the issues journalists face, he said, such as social media, data sharing and regulation.

The amount of data is growing exponentially, and predictive technology is winning across all sectors, but we now need to focus on the legal and societal issues on the use of data.

"It is our data and we have to take this back."

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1.20pm: The Future of Skies - Harrison Wolf, Project Lead at World Economic Forum - UAS Governance & Policy Expert

Consumer-level drones are currently being used to take pictures and such, but the "future of flying machines is autonomous", Mr Wolf says.

"[We must] address these technologies while mitigating the risks for society."

If we consider the possibilities of what was once considered impossible (flying, for instance, only eight years before the first flight), imagine what the future could hold, Mr Wolf said.

After all, 80 per cent of accidents are down to human error, so could removing humans improve this?

Technology would soon disrupt air traffic control, Mr Wolf said, as the sector is currently labour intensive, expensive and requires a high level of skill.

Many technologies are currently being tested, such as getting ambulances through the sky to relieve congestion. Using drones as a tool may now have a much greater impact on society than we initially thought, Mr Wolf said.

They could also be used in food cultivation and delivery. They were even having an impact on mosquitos - helping to eradicate diseases they carry like malaria. Drones could also help to deliver medical equipment and vaccines, not to replace roads, but to supplement them.

"Logistic systems are ripe for disruption," he said.

Alibaba, Google, Amazon and more are testing out drones to see if they would work to deliver products.

But it was important that the technology could be utilised by "the many, rather than the few".

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1.05pm: The Future of India's Infrastructure - Reuben Abraham, CEO of IDFC, a think/do tank of India's largest infrastructure finance company

This year, India will overtake the United Kingdom and France in GDP terms, putting it in fifth place in terms of global GDP. In the next 15 years, it is expected to be the third largest economy on the planet.

So what's driving this, Mr Abraham asks?

There is a notion that India is primarily a rural country, but in reality the definition of the word urbanisation makes it difficult to determine.

In reality, it seems India is 45 to 50 per cent urban, not the 30 per cent that official figures tell us, Mr Abraham said.

India is currently sitting at the same inflection point China was 15 years ago, he said.

According to government estimates, India needs $1 trillion of investment every five years.

At one of the top schools in Delhi, the cut off point for admission is 100 per cent.

"A lot of Indian students find it easier to crack the Ivy League than gain admission into Indian university," Mr Abraham said.

Indian parents spend 6 to 7 billion dollars to send their children abroad to school every year.

The technology coming out of the country however, was now "second to none".

Housing was another issue.

He said there was no reason why the UAE and India could not enter into a more integrated trade agreement.

"When China grew, Hong Kong played a very big role... so the question I want to leave you with is can the UAE play the same role for India, as Hong Kong played for China?"

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1pm: The Future of Architecture - James Law, Architect, Chairman and Chief Executive of James Law Cybertecture

"The very fabric of our architecture and how we build it is going to need to change, because it's not sustainable," Mr Law says, as will the way we power the industry.

So how will we address this?

Mr Law believes one solution relies in "mega architecture" where thousands of people are compressed to live and work effectively using less resources in a more compressed city.

Another could be in "smart architecture", like the iPad Tower in Dubai, incorporating new technology to make life more efficient.

Mr Law then said "one of the biggest forces coming into architecture" is transportation architecture, namely concepts like the Hyperloop.

Mr Law, who has been working on the Hyperloop project, said that entire nations will be considered completely differently once these technologies are created.

But in each of these solutions, affordable architecture would also need to be considered.

OPOds can be built for less than US$12,000, he said, and just last week the government of Hong Kong granted him a piece of land for $1 so he could build a conglomeration of the tiny buildings to house people.

This leads to the idea of modular architecture, too.

Autonomous architecture, like flying taxis, would also be a large part of the future.

"This is all going to be possible, and it's coming faster than we can ever imagine."

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12.45pm: The Future of Cities - Gregory Curtin, CEO of Civic Resource Group International, pioneered the use of technology and data to transform the public sector

What is the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

"It's a revolution unlike anything we have seen in the past," Mr Curtin says, and it refers to the blurring of the lines between digital and physical human worlds.

Most of it is due to the rapid advancements in new technologies.

But what does this do to our cities?

Mr Curtin believes cities will now need to be smart, connected, intelligent, sensing, sustainable and dynamic. They would be fully functional platforms connecting everything, especially people as they move across the city.

Citizen engagement would soon be entirely new, with engagement happening in real time.

The experience would further be altered by augmented reality, artificial intelligence and blockchain.

"People will be experiencing cities, and cities will be experiencing people," Mr Curtin says.

Soon, everything will be connected all the time, and humans will be able to transact and negotiate the interaction with a city, he said. There would be new business, governance and funding models to operate within a city, too.

For the UAE, new value and revenue generation would be crucial in advancing its cities, Mr Curtin said. This means new energy markets and exchanges, offering urban infrastructure as a service, and thinking about the role of the individual as a producer and a consumer at the same time.

"Think of our future cities as smart, dynamic - and really alive."

"And if her excellency is still here [...] maybe we can make that future so big, and build it on Mars."

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12.30pm: The Future of Brain Gain - Ronit Avni, CEO of Localized, a technology company that helps schools prepare their students for the future of work

The term "brain drain" was coined in 1950s Britain, when their trained professionals were increasingly moving abroad to the United States, Ms Avni says.

However, this trend was just as pertinent today, and will only grow.

While there are ways to give back to your homeland, it all costs

In today's economy, countries need every skilled professional they can find, Ms Avni says, which is why countries like China keep in touch with their diaspora.

However, with modern connectivity, there must be a better way to harness the knowledge and skills of diaspora, Ms Avni says.

And there is a willingness of diaspora to give back and teach those in their homeland. Insitutions across the world, like Stanford University, are no longer offering career counselling, but are championing the idea of "career communities" where peers in similar fields can offer help.

Efforts are being made to connect diaspora to their country of origin, but they face considerable challenges, Ms Avni says, as they're expensive and hard to sustain. However, these days there were other reasons for people to continue to stay in tune with their home countries, as it opens up access to other markets and channels to them. Ms Avni spoke of the rapid expansion of her company, Localized, aiming to help connect mentors to young people, and to ease brain drain across the world.

"Our dream is to turn brain drain, into brain gain - at scale."

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12pm: HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan at the forum

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11.30am: Jassim Alseddiqi, Chief Executive Officer, ADFG

"Technology is not something new, it's really a system, a procedure or a paradigm that increases efficiency, scale and speed. And we've seen this in the past - over the past 150 years," Mr Alseddiqi says.

He said "technology" was an overused term, but it was also a term crucial to the future.

The financial services sector is one of a few not to be disrupted by technology, he said.

Focuses for the future would be SME funding, "banking the unbanked", and payments and remittances.

It took 600 years for 51 per cent of the entire adult population to have a bank account, he said, and one third of the entire population are currently "unbanked". However, of that number, two-thirds have a mobile phone.

As for SME funding, in 2017 there was a $1.5 trillion trade finance gap. If that gap was closed, there would be a 10 per cent increase in global trade.

Lastly, the global migrant population is currently 258 million, and the average remittance cost is 7 per cent in 2018.

He said there was a lot of potential for things like blockchain and cryptocurrency to disrupt this "inefficient" sector.

He said the obvious solution was introducing mobile banking to the unbanked people.

Blockchain will be the number one thing to disrupt the banking industry in terms of decentralisation, he said.

In five years, we could see central banks disappearing with the introduction of blockchain, he said, "which is a scary thought".

Biometric passwords, better customer understanding and artificial intelligence would further close gaps in the banking industry.

"So, ladies and gentleman, if you're looking at where to invest next - I think the answer is clear: FinTech."

He said technology, and FinTech specifically, would change the financial sector significantly in the next five years.

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11:15am: Digital Paradox: How technologies are reshaping behaviour and institutions - David Thorpe, Vice President, Strategy Global Lead for Service Design

Mr Thorpe explored how digital technology "hits the trifecta" between space, time and relationships.

He said people intrinsically have a complicated relationship with change, although people seemed to commonly ask technology to make things cheaper or faster.

In the 20th Century the world was interested in adoption over time in the changes and technology we introduced, he said.

However, the next generation of creators were no longer talking about how to reach customers over a specific time, they are now talking about "thousands of changes to the services we provide every single day".

This meant a systemic change in the entire operating model, he said.

"The product is now the service," he said, saying the rate of change was much higher, as were expectations.

"When you knock on that door of digital change, you're actually asking for a front to back change of your organisation in order to be fit for purpose in a digital environment."

He said trust of services could also be eroded if one company is able to provide a high level of service, but another can't.

Trust was also an issue in dealing with bureaucracy and institutions like Governments, he said.

"Nobody trusts the institutions to move us into the future."

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10:55am: Q&A with Mustafa Alrawi, Cori Lathan and Olivier Oullier

Mr Oullier spoke about controversy around using technology to enhance human performance.

However, wearing glasses and drinking coffee were already pieces of technology we are using to enhance ourselves, he said.

"How interesting is it that society is willing to accept some forms of performance enhancements, and not others."

"When do we decide that disability, mental or physical, is a problem that we need to fix? Is ageing a problem?"

Ms Lathan said the world was moving away from "targeted disease states and targeted treatment" and more about quantifying health.

We all have wearables and are interacting with technology and the environment around us, Ms Lathan said.

"I generate more data in a day than my doctor sees in a year."

Mustafa: When we will be able to use the force, and move things with our minds?

"Being able to move things with your mind is quite mainstream in neurotechnology," Mr Oullier said.

He said the technology was already in place, for example a quadriplegic was recently able to drive a Formula 1 car with his mind.

Ms Lathan said she was a “techno optimist”.

"I think technology can help us as humans do great things."

She said she was interested in matching technology to solve real world problems.

Mustafa: Should it be left to you to decide what is correct and what the guidelines are for this?

"As a scientist, I would never say what is correct and what is not," Mr Oullier said.

He said there needed to be regulation on how data is collected and how it is anonymised.

He said "something that worries me a lot more than the giants of tech using my data is people dictating regulation without scientific involvement or consultation.

"This is way more dangerous than the misuse of data."

"The way policy is created, especially in the EU, is so last century," he said.

Ms Lathan said technology moves faster than regulation, underlining the need for entrepreneurs and technology creators to work together with policy makers.

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10.35: Brain Matters: The Future of Human Enhancements - Olivier Oullier, President of EMOTIV, and Cori Lathan, CEO of AnthroTronix

Ms Lathan spearheaded the development of biomedical assistive devices such as CosmoBot, an interactive robot serving children with autism and with disorders that affect the nervous system. Most recently, she led the development of Defense Automated Neurobehavioral Assessment (DANA), an FDA-cleared digital health platform which helps healthcare providers better assess cognitive function.

She spoke of the not so distant future, in which we will be able to "enhance our brains with technology".

"As I age, I fully expect that I will have knee implants that will not only cure arthritis but will give me superhuman ability to run that marathon I've always wanted to do."

Not only that, but she said there will soon be brain implants that will not only retain and restore memories, but would also do things like curing Alzheimers.

Olivier Oullier:

Mr Oullier said the world was currently obsessed with recording data, but one of the main issues we faced was making sense of that information.

"How can we enhance people if we don't understand them?"

Mr Oullier's company, Emotiv, is the world leader in producing neurotechnologies, manufacturing brain scanning devices.

"We can record the brain activity of anyone, everywhere," he said.

However, one crucial aspect of studying the brain was also thinking about "brain health".

By 2030, both human and financial, the mental and human cost will be higher than some of the worst diseases of the modern age, including cancer and respiratory disease.

But globally, less than 3 per cent of budgets were allocated to brain health. Many people in a number of countries do not have access to it either.

We need to understand interactions between the brain and the environment.

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10.30am: Mina Al-Oraibi talks with Sarah Al Amiri

Mina: How could the Mars Mission inform subjects like water scarcity and issues we are facing in the region?

As we get closer snapshots of Mars, Ms Al Amiri says, there are plenty of similar features to what we have here on earth. Valleys, vast expanses of desert, dust storms, and things like the Grand Canyon. The issue of climate change was important in understanding Mars too.

"Are we going to solve the issue of what happened to the water on Mars? No."

However, we could piece together bits of information to try and better understand what could happen to Earth.

Mina: What is worrisome about the future?

"That we don't have enough time to do what we want to," Ms Al Amiri said.

She also noted "collaboration in a global perspective", saying it was fundamental to every field.

"Intellect is the highest commodity of the future... we can't rely on what we used to."

Mina: What excites you?

"The future, it's as simple as that. The future excites me."

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10.15am: Keynote address - UAE Minister of Advanced Sciences Sarah Al Amiri

It is with this wide lens that we are looking at the future, not only of the UAE but of the world.

Ms Al Amiri took the opportunity to speak about a "passion project" of hers, where she worked alongside "50 young scientists and engineers [...] in one of the harshest environments of mankind" - the Emirates' Mars Mission.

It was important to engage the youth in the project, she said, as they would be the ones to benefit from it.

"This is a planet that is depleting its own resources, and losing what protected them: the atmosphere.

"The future is about capitalising on the knowledge of humanity. It's about doing things better in a shorter amount of time."

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10.05am: Future of Connectivity - Parag Khanna, leading global strategist, world traveller, and best-selling author.

The Arab world is one of the most urbanised parts of the world, Mr Khanna says, saying 90 per cent of the population lives in cities.

However, Mr Khanna said he does not label this region "the Middle East", as it evoked the idea of a "convenient waystation or stopover". He invited others to follow his lead.

"Geographically, this is west Asia."

Connectivity across Asia was once again booming, he said, and the UAE played a large role in that.

"It is cities that grow global connectivity," he said.

However, it was important that the UAE took the lead in promoting peace in the Middle East.

"There's a lot more that needs to be done for the region than what the UAE has already done for itself.

"You must build this peaceful map or risk falling behind the rest of Asia."

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10am: Future of Connectivity - Parag Khanna, leading global strategist, world traveler, and best-selling author.

"Economics is about the optimisation of land, labour and capital."

So says Mr Khanna, talking on transcending political divides in the pursuit of connectivity.

"I praise the UAE for becoming this city state, and there is a lot of progress that has been made to get on the map," he said.

Mr Khanna spoke of top-ranked cities in terms of connectivity, saying Dubai belongs alongside the likes of London, Tokyo and Paris as a hub of information.

There is a set of 50-60 "mega city regions that drive the world economy", he says, and each of the cities simply want to be connected to each other, instead of imposing boundaries.

"And you can see what this country has done as part of this vision."

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9.30am: Welcome to the Future Forum

The National's Editor-In-Chief Mina Al-Oraibi welcomes attendees to the Future Forum.

"What can matter more than the future. But in a region like ours, unfortunately the future is not what we usually think about," Ms Al-Oraibi said.

"We're lucky to be in a country that pushes us to change, that pushes us to be our better selves."

Ms Al-Oraibi spoke about the Future Forum as a year-long initiative and The National fellows, working with the Emirati Youth Council, where we've found six young people to help inform our editorial content during the year-long initiative.

"Welcome, and help us to create the future."

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9am: UAE Minister of State for Advanced Sciences Sarah Al Amiri has arrived, ready for her keynote address at 10am.

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8.30am: Our attendees are making their way down to Manarat Al Saadiyat as the Future Forum gets under way.

We're looking forward to a full day ahead of cultivating ideas and discussing the big issues of the modern age. See the agenda pictured lower down the page.

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The National is celebrating its 10th anniversary by looking forward.

We've brought in change makers from across the world to launch a year-long initiative, inviting ideas and discussions around what the future might look like.

Today's Future Forum will showcase the UAE’s role in shaping the future – and how various fields and industries are impacted by it.

Keynote speakers will tackle subjects from the future of human enhancement, to the future of cities, to the future of money and investment, and much more.

Abu Dhabi, The National's home, is the prime location from which to look to the future.

You can find out more information about the initiative here.

Here's the agenda:

The National
The National

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For now, here's some further reading:

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The Future

The National celebrates ten years of achievement by looking to the future

Meet Casper Klynge, the world's first tech ambassador

Comment: In a digital age, can mainstream media match Silicon Valley's lure?

Mind control? Thanks to neurotech, it's not unfeasible

Special report: The future of transport in the UAE