The power of great Arab minds

By tapping into a pool of Arab talent, a new initiative will make a difference to the region and future generations

Mohammad Al Gergawi, minister of cabinet affairs. Press conference to announce the Greatest Arab Minds. Museum of the Future, Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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In the past decade or two, broadly speaking, the UAE has gained remarkable proficiency in setting high benchmarks in various fields and steadily following through to meet them. Whether it is its space ambitions or the Dubai Expo 2020 bid that was won and a spectacular event pulled off despite a pandemic; there are several examples to substantiate the country's diverse ambitions, its consistent record of meeting targets and its emphasis on meritocracy.

Last week, another ambitious quest was set in motion. The UAE is backing Arab talent and supporting Arabs across a wide range of fields to make names for themselves as well as propel advancements, through their contributions in the categories of natural sciences, medicine, literature and arts, economics, technology and engineering, and architecture and design. The Great Arab Minds initiative, driven by the vision of Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, has great significance, as it can have an impact on the future of not just the UAE but the entire region.

Educators perhaps understand this best: identifying minds that have the potential to make a difference is a responsibility and nourishing those individuals, championing their attempts and successes is how the Arab world can foster a drive for excellence that is not limited to the Middle East. We know from civilisational history that ambitious, driven and talented Arabs can make a difference to people around the world and for periods long after their lifetimes.

The inspiration derived from an initiative such as Great Arab Minds has the power to lift people out of their monetary circumstances and set them on a path of progress. A study conducted by the auditing firm KPMG found that ignorance costs the Arab world more than $2 trillion. And the situation is not helped by the "brain drain", as Mohammed Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs, pointed out at the launch of the event last week, saying that over the years, there has been a brain drain in the Arab world, with talent moving to the West, often unrecognised in their own region.

The Great Arab Minds initiative aims to change the course of this reality and take the reins in shaping a brighter future for Arab generations. Earlier this year, Sheikh Mohammed set up a Dh100 million fund ($27.2m) to mentor and develop the brightest people in their fields. The opportunity that this presents to young people with big ideas cannot be underestimated.

An award of this nature, calling for the brightest of Arab minds, will have many benefits. But perhaps two that are bound to be the most far-reaching will be the dispelling of ignorance, and the power of role models that this initiative is likely to create.

Over the next five years, selected Arab minds will inspire people in their respective spheres as well as younger generations. But even the contenders who may not win the award will by virtue of their effort, ideas and hard work, influence their peers and inspire other young Arab minds to strive for greatness. It is how human beings meet challenges – by focusing on a goal and striving to attain it, and in that effort, often reaching their potential. Those result are likely to improve Arab lives, and possibly the lives of millions of others.

Published: October 03, 2022, 2:00 AM
EDITORIAL