Big thinkers gather to set the world to rights at Davos



"Events, dear boy, events," the former British prime minister Harold Macmillan is believed to have replied when asked by a journalist what was most likely to blow his government off course.

It's a response delegates of the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual bash in Davos, starting on Wednesday, will probably relate to as they pack their suitcases to head to this year's gathering.

Each year, the brightest thinkers dream up a worthy-sounding theme aimed at inspiring participants in their goal to solving the world's problems. This year's theme - "resilient dynamism" - is no different.

But often, the urgency of unforeseen events outside the snow-capped Swiss mountain retreat threaten to blow delegates off course.

Two years ago it was the political upheaval erupting in parts of the Middle East that hijacked the agenda. While the official programme continued to plod along with its sessions ranging from sustainable development to climate change, press conferences and corridor chatter was dominated by the escalating political instability unfolding in Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen.

By the end of the five-day gathering delegates were grappling with the thorny issue of wealth inequality: a topic emerging as one of the likely causes of the unrest. Both China and India outlined how they hoped to reduce the income gap in their countries.

Two years on, and with several political leaders overthrown since the onset of regional unrest, the Arab Spring will again loom large at this year's gathering. The prime ministers of Libya, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco will attend to spell out reform plans and shed light on the transitions in their countries.

Most pressingly, a focus is likely to fall on Syria as the civil war that has so far claimed more than 60,000 lives enters its second year. With international intervention so far limited to a support role, participants will discuss what more they can do to help bring the violence to a close.

At an economic level, eyes will also be trained on Egypt's government to see whether it can finally strike a deal with the IMF to secure a US$4.8 billion (Dh17.63bn) loan. It needs the cash to shore up dwindling public finances and avoid an unorderly depreciation of the Egyptian pound.

In recent days, events playing out in another part of Africa may yet also muscle their way on to the agenda. The Islamist insurgency in Mali and the hostage crisis in neighbouring Algeria will require careful handling by the international community.

Still, delegates will be heartened by recent readings about the health of the global economy. The United States economy's successful avoidance of the fiscal cliff, signs of a waning in the intensity of the euro zone crisis and a pick-up in China's growth all provide a rosier backdrop to the gathering this time than in recent years.

But despite signs of a clearing of economic clouds, attendees still have plenty to worry about this year. Wealth inequality will again occupy the minds of many participants.

Along with unsustainable government finances, the issue was placed as the biggest economic threat facing the world by more than 1,000 experts and industry bosses surveyed in the Global Risks 2013 report, the annual WEF study to gauge the mood of bigwigs attending Davos.

After a year of extreme weather in many parts of the world, some of which has been linked to climate change, greenhouse gases were ranked as the third biggest worry in the survey.

WEF will offer dozens of sessions where 2,500 participants from business, government and academia will debate such issues.

Time will tell whether more immediate events in the coming days will emerge to distract Davos man from his task of improving the state of the world.

AIDA RETURNS

Director: Carol Mansour

Starring: Aida Abboud, Carol Mansour

Rating: 3.5./5

FFP EXPLAINED

What is Financial Fair Play?
Introduced in 2011 by Uefa, European football’s governing body, it demands that clubs live within their means. Chiefly, spend within their income and not make substantial losses.

What the rules dictate? 
The second phase of its implementation limits losses to €30 million (Dh136m) over three seasons. Extra expenditure is permitted for investment in sustainable areas (youth academies, stadium development, etc). Money provided by owners is not viewed as income. Revenue from “related parties” to those owners is assessed by Uefa's “financial control body” to be sure it is a fair value, or in line with market prices.

What are the penalties? 
There are a number of punishments, including fines, a loss of prize money or having to reduce squad size for European competition – as happened to PSG in 2014. There is even the threat of a competition ban, which could in theory lead to PSG’s suspension from the Uefa Champions League.

Company Profile

Company name: Hoopla
Date started: March 2023
Founder: Jacqueline Perrottet
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 10
Investment stage: Pre-seed
Investment required: $500,000

Herc's Adventures

Developer: Big Ape Productions
Publisher: LucasArts
Console: PlayStation 1 & 5, Sega Saturn
Rating: 4/5

10 tips for entry-level job seekers
  • Have an up-to-date, professional LinkedIn profile. If you don’t have a LinkedIn account, set one up today. Avoid poor-quality profile pictures with distracting backgrounds. Include a professional summary and begin to grow your network.
  • Keep track of the job trends in your sector through the news. Apply for job alerts at your dream organisations and the types of jobs you want – LinkedIn uses AI to share similar relevant jobs based on your selections.
  • Double check that you’ve highlighted relevant skills on your resume and LinkedIn profile.
  • For most entry-level jobs, your resume will first be filtered by an applicant tracking system for keywords. Look closely at the description of the job you are applying for and mirror the language as much as possible (while being honest and accurate about your skills and experience).
  • Keep your CV professional and in a simple format – make sure you tailor your cover letter and application to the company and role.
  • Go online and look for details on job specifications for your target position. Make a list of skills required and set yourself some learning goals to tick off all the necessary skills one by one.
  • Don’t be afraid to reach outside your immediate friends and family to other acquaintances and let them know you are looking for new opportunities.
  • Make sure you’ve set your LinkedIn profile to signal that you are “open to opportunities”. Also be sure to use LinkedIn to search for people who are still actively hiring by searching for those that have the headline “I’m hiring” or “We’re hiring” in their profile.
  • Prepare for online interviews using mock interview tools. Even before landing interviews, it can be useful to start practising.
  • Be professional and patient. Always be professional with whoever you are interacting with throughout your search process, this will be remembered. You need to be patient, dedicated and not give up on your search. Candidates need to make sure they are following up appropriately for roles they have applied.

Arda Atalay, head of Mena private sector at LinkedIn Talent Solutions, Rudy Bier, managing partner of Kinetic Business Solutions and Ben Kinerman Daltrey, co-founder of KinFitz

Company Profile

Name: Direct Debit System
Started: Sept 2017
Based: UAE with a subsidiary in the UK
Industry: FinTech
Funding: Undisclosed
Investors: Elaine Jones
Number of employees: 8

KINGDOM OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

Director: Wes Ball

Starring: Owen Teague, Freya Allen, Kevin Durand

Rating: 3.5/5

The Super Mario Bros Movie

Directors: Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic
Stars: Chris Pratt, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Day, Jack Black, Seth Rogen and Keegan-Michael Key
Rating: 1/5

The specs

Engine: 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbo (BMW B58)
Power: 340hp at 6,500rpm
Torque: 500Nm from 1,600-4,500rpm
Transmission: ZF 8-speed auto
0-100kph: 4.2sec
Top speed: 267kph

On sale: Now
Price: From Dh462,189
Warranty: 30-month/48,000k

Sinopharm vaccine explained

The Sinopharm vaccine was created using techniques that have been around for decades. 

“This is an inactivated vaccine. Simply what it means is that the virus is taken, cultured and inactivated," said Dr Nawal Al Kaabi, chair of the UAE's National Covid-19 Clinical Management Committee.

"What is left is a skeleton of the virus so it looks like a virus, but it is not live."

This is then injected into the body.

"The body will recognise it and form antibodies but because it is inactive, we will need more than one dose. The body will not develop immunity with one dose," she said.

"You have to be exposed more than one time to what we call the antigen."

The vaccine should offer protection for at least months, but no one knows how long beyond that.

Dr Al Kaabi said early vaccine volunteers in China were given shots last spring and still have antibodies today.

“Since it is inactivated, it will not last forever," she said.

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)

The specs: 2017 Dodge Viper SRT

Price, base / as tested Dh460,000

Engine 8.4L V10

Transmission Six-speed manual

Power 645hp @ 6,200rpm

Torque 813Nm @ 5,000rpm

Fuel economy, combined 16.8L / 100km

The biog

Favourite food: Fish and seafood

Favourite hobby: Socialising with friends

Favourite quote: You only get out what you put in!

Favourite country to visit: Italy

Favourite film: Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

Family: We all have one!