For the past 10 years, an annual summit in Dubai has brought together leaders, thinkers, policymakers and experts in diverse fields from the country and around the globe. The World Government Summit, being held this week, is one the world’s major platforms for high-level delegates to exchange ideas on a broad and urgent range of topics.
This time, from the region and beyond, 20 presidents and hundreds of ministers will participate at the summit, including Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi. There will also be in attendance Nobel Prize winners, policymakers and corporate figures. Elon Musk of Twitter and Tesla, Ray Dalio of Bridgewater, and Christian Bruch of Siemens Energy are just some of the headliners.
High-level summits with illustrious participants who have extensive domain knowledge and experience go a long way to set the global agenda for the coming year. It is fair to say that given the scope of participation and breadth of topics and in-depth nature of dialogues – and even bilateral agreements – conferences such as the World Government Summit and last month's annual World Economic Forum at Davos shape the course of the year's relevant and pressing discussions. For its part, the UAE is an especially conducive and neutral ground in facilitating these discussions and is uniquely equipped to bring together different personalities across sectors and nationalities.
Talking over three days and addressing a large multinational audience will be professor Klaus Schwab of the World Economic Forum; Kristalina Georgieva of the International Monetary Fund; Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of the World Trade Organisation and Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of the World Health Organisation. The International Atomic Energy Agency and the International Labour Organisation will also participate and share their knowledge and perspectives.
When such important cross-sector dialogues are facilitated, summits such as these become especially important in one respect: they foster co-operation between public and private sectors. This is crucial as it helps draw two necessary strands together – the necessary investment that private players bring to the table and the vision of governments, with their ability and power to implement ideas for the benefit of society at large.
Such critical partnerships are often and rightly hailed as being essential to tackle vast problems facing the world, be it ending global hunger, drought, disease, pandemics or natural disasters such as the Turkey-Syria earthquake, to name just a few of the crises with which the world is, sadly, all too familiar.
As the summit in the UAE once again enables dialogue between representatives of vital sectors, there will be a widening of knowledge thanks to discussions on next generation ideas – be it climate change, food systems, AI, technology, education, health care, or new fields still in the early stages of discovery or conceptualisation.
When leaders from different countries, backgrounds and expertise discuss pressing challenges and talk about long-term crises, there is an eye on feasible solutions. What this means is simple: by thinking about larger problems, talking about them at such forums, answers begin to take shape. This, in many ways, is the whole point of international summits and it is why we need to pay attention to them.