The 54th session of the World Economic Forum (WEF/Davos 2024) witnessed the United Arab Emirates (UAE) emerging as a prominent participant. Taking place in Davos, Switzerland, from January 15 to 19, the conference concluded today with the UAE’s notable presence. Over 100 distinguished individuals, including business leaders, government officials, and representatives from the private sector, attended the event. The UAE’s participation in Davos marks one of the largest international delegations in the forum’s history and reaffirms the country’s leading role on the global stage in various domains of cooperation and global partnership.
The UAE’s engagement in this significant global economic gathering solidifies its position as a key player in international affairs, demonstrating the government’s commitment to enhancing its economic profile and global competitiveness across all sectors that support the national economy. By actively participating, the UAE aims to share its experiences and contribute to the development of a sustainable national and global economy.
According to His Excellency Mohammad bin Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs, the UAE, led by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, holds great importance in its participation at the World Economic Forum. This participation signifies the UAE’s commitment to engaging in international dialogues and knowledge sharing across various pivotal sectors and fields. The economic sector is a cornerstone in fostering development, prosperity, and the overall welfare of individuals and nations. Its significance extends not only within the UAE but also on a global scale, Al Gergawi added according to the Emirates News Agency (WAM).
“Impossible is Possible”
The UAE’s participation in the event stands out with its remarkable pavilion themed “Impossible is Possible.” For the second consecutive year, this pavilion served as a venue for numerous media conferences, bilateral meetings, and sessions dedicated to discussing a wide range of topics and subjects. The participation included CEOs from leading national companies, as well as officials from both the government and private sectors.
The forum, which spanned across five consecutive days, showcased the UAE’s active engagement in a multitude of activities. This included participation in press conferences, both public and closed sessions, committee meetings, as well as involvement in panel discussions encompassing a wide array of topics. These discussions covered various areas such as the economy, diplomacy, education, and technology, with a focus on subjects like Artificial Intelligence (AI), global trade, economic developments, and geopolitics.
In 2024, the forum revolved around the central theme of ‘Rebuilding Trust’ and provided a platform for over 3,000 influential figures, leaders, and decision-makers from both the public and private sectors worldwide. Their shared goal was to participate in discussions on global challenges, assess solutions and advancements, and foster partnerships across various economic and developmental sectors.
The outcomes and collaborations that emerged from the forum played a pivotal role in bolstering sustainable development and shaping solutions for prominent developmental challenges on the international stage.
The UAE actively participated in various key sessions, private meetings, and side events during this year’s Forum. Notably, the UAE’s participation was distinguished by its special pavilion, reflecting its unique identity and local character. The pavilion served as a venue for significant meetings, public gatherings, and media sessions, attracting prominent national and global attendees.
The UAE’s participation also involved engaging in high-level bilateral meetings, where esteemed dignitaries gathered to review the UAE’s successful experiences, exchange international insights, and hold constructive dialogues with international stakeholders.
The UAE’s agenda for the event encompassed sessions across diverse fields, with a particular focus on education. Discussions revolved around exploring the opportunities and challenges associated with the utilization of AI in the education sector. These discussions emphasized how organizations and governments can adapt to new AI technologies, maximize its benefits, and foster the development of learning skills. Additionally, the sessions explored prospects and opportunities for collaboration between the public and private sectors to develop innovative and productive educational models and experiences.
On the diplomatic front, the UAE actively participated in sessions addressing various topics, such as the impact and trajectory of conflicts in the Middle East and the importance of balancing fundamental geopolitical dynamics. These sessions aimed to overcome challenges to international stability and cooperation.
The UAE’s participation also extended to sessions focusing on economic sectors, foreign trade, investment, and the environment. Notably, there were dynamic discussions on topics such as the growth prospects and impact of BRICS on global economic realities and the geopolitical landscape. Additionally, there were insightful sessions highlighting the influence of technology on global trade and investment development and exploring the future of world trade and foreign direct investment in light of harnessing their vast potential.
Moreover, the sessions addressed prospects for the new global trading system, trade as a driver of economic growth, the application of new technologies in business, and ways to foster a more inclusive and environmentally responsible global business landscape.
The UAE actively participated in sessions aimed at developing platforms for enhancing cooperation across sectors, with a focus on bridging the global digital divide and fostering new partnerships. The discussions also centered on addressing significant barriers to global digitization efforts, global governance of AI, and financing strategies for digital inclusion.
Exceptional cooperation, noteworthy achievements
During this year’s edition, the UAE Government and the WEF have signed a partnership agreement to develop the “We the UAE for Strategic Intelligence 2031” platform, that represents a digital model powered by AI, incorporating the best global knowledge resources and international experts in various sectors.
The platform aims to support policymakers, strategists, and government leaders in the UAE with a specialized strategic knowledge base in priority sectors outlined in the ‘We the UAE 2031’ vision.
Furthermore, the UAE Ministry of Economy and the WEF collaborated at Davos 2024 to launch a new report titled “TradeTech: Catalysing Innovation”, which emphasised how the integration of technology into the global trading system will add $9 trillion to the value of trade among the G7 nations – with wider catalytic potential for developing and least developed countries across the world.
Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, minister of State for Foreign Trade, highlighted the potential of advanced technologies to revolutionize global trade and usher in a new era of growth. He emphasized that these technologies can enhance operational efficiencies, strengthen supply-chain resilience, and facilitate the entry of new players into the global trading system.
Al Zeyoudi mentioned that the UAE is spearheading a digital revolution aimed at modernizing global trade and has undertaken various initiatives to strengthen its position as a global trading center. One notable initiative is the introduction of the innovative digital trading platform called UAE Trade Connect, which facilitates seamless connections between banks and customers. This platform plays a crucial role in reducing fraud, minimizing human errors, and expediting access to corporate trade finance.
Al Zeyoudi delivered his speech during the session titled “TradeTech’s Trillion-Dollar Promise” at the Davos 2024 event. The panel witnessed the participation of Anwar Al-Haq Kakkar, prime minister of Pakistan, alongside other distinguished dignitaries.
Also, during the event, Dubai and Pakistan entered into two Inter-Governmental Framework Agreements aimed at enhancing their collaboration in the maritime and logistics sectors. These agreements include the possibility of establishing a Dedicated Freight Corridor and an Economic Zone near Karachi.
The Dedicated Freight Corridor is designed to connect Karachi Port, situated on the Arabian Sea, with Karachi, Pakistan’s most populous city, extending up to the Pipri Marshalling Yard, located approximately 45 km away. This strategic corridor is expected to bring about improvements in transportation efficiency, reduce transit times, and lower overall logistics costs.
UAE Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution
Also at this year’s edition, the UAE Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (UAE C4IR) launched a platform to bridge the gap between AI industry leaders, innovators, and experts across the globe.
The C4IR AI Fellowship Program was announced during the event. The knowledge exchange platform was activated under a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between UAE C4IR and Rwanda C4IR.
On the forum’s sidelines, H.E. Omar Sultan Al Olama, UAE’s minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, stressed that the rapid growth the global generative artificial intelligence market is witnessing reflects the future’s driving force that the AI sector represents. He indicated that UAE’s leadership has realized, for more than two decades, the importance of adopting and developing the capabilities and solutions of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Moreover, it focuses on enhancing investment in the technology and AI sector, which is reshaping various industries around the world. This came during a session entitled: “Generative AI: Steam Engine of the Fourth Industrial Revolution?” at Davos 2024.
Collaboration with UpLink
During this year’s annual meeting, Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives foundation announced the launch of a grant program worth AED11 million (about $3 million) in collaboration with UpLink, WEF’s innovation platform. The partnership aims to support international efforts to combat hunger, and enhance resilience, sustainability, and health of food and water systems.
Also, under the directives of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, the foundation pledged to provide about AED37 million ($10 million) to support the health sector in Gaza during Davos 2024.
Setting the course in a fragmented world
During a session entitled “Cooperation in a Fragmented World” the UAE reviewed its inspiring development and economic model, which is based on solid foundations. Notably, it focuses on strengthening its international partnerships and building bridges of cooperation with various countries around the world. The country also discussed the achievements of its soft diplomacy globally, its adoption of a policy that supports stability and development, and its proactiveness in keeping pace with leading technologies. The discussions also touched on creating opportunities for new economic sectors, which enhanced their attractiveness at the forefront of global investment destinations. The UAE government highlighted the impact of these combined factors on the qualitative transformations the country has achieved in its national economy and its ability to withstand and grow despite global fluctuations and crises.
Abu Dhabi’s economic delegation in Davos 2024, led by the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, reviewed the most prominent features of the ‘Falcon Economy’. It discussed the growth opportunities it provides and the emirate’s commitment to strategies for transitioning towards a sustainable green economy. Hence, Abu Dhabi aims to consolidate its pioneering position in climate neutrality by promoting innovation and advanced technology.
Dubai Future Foundation
As part of the UAE’s participation in Davos 2024, the Dubai Future Foundation reassured its commitment to support global efforts to design the future of the most important economic sectors. H.E. Khalfan Juma Belhoul, CEO of the Dubai Future Foundation, stressed that the UAE’s participation in the WEF provides a unique opportunity to share the most prominent successful Emirati experiences at the global level. Moreover, it allows the exchange of experiences with countries, governments, and parties participating in this event.
UAE and the soft power
The UAE pavilion at Davos 2024 hosted a discussion session entitled “Soft Power in Africa.” The session discussed the role soft power plays in influencing, persuading, and enhancing a country’s reputation in various fields. The discussion noted the importance of culture, education, innovation, technology, films, music, language, and other aspects on which soft power relies in building a positive image for countries, organizations, and institutions around the world. During 2023, the UAE topped the region’s countries and the Arab world in the Global Soft Power Index. This reflected the positive influence and good reputation of the UAE in various forums.
AI-based talent management
During another session held in the UAE Pavilion, professor Misiek Piskorski, professor of digital strategy, analytics and innovation and dean of IMD Asia and Oceania, focused on the importance of talent management. He detailed how to discover, attract, and develop talent to benefit businesses. The session discussed tech and AI-based talent management models. This session comes in light of the UAE’s increasing interest in attracting and retaining talent in various fields and specializations. Hence, it seeks to support the labor market and national economy. Moreover, the UAE aims to raise its competitiveness and leadership as one of the best countries in the region and the world on the Global Talent Competitiveness Index.
e&: the fastest growing company
According to Brand Finance’s Global 500 Report 2024, which was launched during Davos 2024, e& topped the list of the fastest-growing companies in the technology sector. Moreover, it has the most valuable brand portfolio in the Middle East and Africa region. The annual report, which monitors the most valuable and powerful brands in the world, highlighted e&’s development into a leading global force in technology and investment. It praised its exceptional performance in increasing the value of its brand portfolio to $17 billion in 2024, a 15 percent increase compared to 2023. Therefore, e& reflects the confidence of its investors and partners and consolidates its position as the most valuable brand portfolio in the region this year.
Optimistic trade movement
Also during the forum, a new study by Economist Impact, the trade arm of The Economist Group, and DP World, indicated that business leaders around the world are optimistic about the path of trade movement in 2024, despite the challenges facing them. Although 2023 witnessed escalating geopolitical tensions, the study revealed that the main driver behind this optimism is the growing belief that technology will bring about a huge shift in the efficiency and flexibility of supply chains.
Jahiz, a world-leading initiative
Jahiz is a smart national digital platform to empower federal government talents with the skills of the future. WEF chose Jahiz among the best 9 global projects in its global report, Building a Resilient Tomorrow. It was chosen among more than 1,000 public and private sector projects from around the world.
UAE tops Global Labor Index 2024
The UAE ranked first in the Arab world on Whiteshield’s Global Labor Resilience Index (GLRI) 2024, issued at Davos 2024, Switzerland.
The report indicated that the UAE recorded the highest rate of labor resilience in the Arab region, followed by Saudi Arabia. This comes following its efforts to diversify its economy and improve the skills of its workforce.
Readiness for future possibilities
During an event held in the country’s pavilion, the global Newsweek Vantage Foundation and Switzerlan’s Horizon Research Group, launched the first edition of the Future Opportunities Index 2024 report. The report is part of a partnership between the UAE government and the two international institutions. On the index, the UAE ranked first in the world on 20 indicators of readiness capabilities for future opportunities.
Strategic partnership with WEF
During 2023’s annual WEF meeting, the UAE signed an agreement with the forum to host the Global Future Councils’ meetings, which the country hosted back in October 2023. This came within the framework of the government’s keenness to support the efforts made to study and anticipate the future in several vital and developmental sectors. It also came as part of its endeavor to exchange expertise and experiences and find appropriate solutions for global issues. This includes environmental concerns, sustainability, and enhancing readiness for the future.
In addition, the UAE signed a MoU with Davos to support the UAE’s TradeTech Global initiative. The initiative aims to accelerate the digitization of international supply chains and improve customs procedures. It also aimed to enhance developing countries’ access to the global trading system and pave the way for a new era of trade growth. The agreement also stipulated cooperation to hold a global forum that brings together leaders in the trade, industry, and technology sectors to exchange best practices. In addition, the UAE drafted an annual research report that addresses the general landscape of commerce technology and its real-world applications and emerging trends. The agreement also stipulates the creation of an incubator for promising emerging companies in commerce technology and establishing a regulatory lab that enables major and emerging companies to experiment with commerce technology innovations.
The forum’s 2023 session also witnessed an agreement between the UAE and WEF to establish the Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in the UAE. In addition, they signed an agreement to activate the Fourth Industrial Revolution Strategy developed by the government to activate joint efforts and establish regulatory frameworks.
Those agreements aim to achieve a better future for humanity and work to find integrated solutions by strengthening international dialogue and unifying efforts for a better future. This comes in light of the changes facing the world in several areas, most notably development, economy, climate, and the fourth industrial revolution, among others.
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