Former UK and Italian leaders to speak at Abu Dhabi festival

Gordon Brown and Matteo Renzi are both due to address the high-profile event

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 02: Former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown attends the 'Jewish Labour Movement Conference' on September 2, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
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The rising tide of populism will be among the numerous topics under discussion as former world leaders arrive at an event in the UAE this week.

Gordon Brown and Matteo Renzi, former Prime Ministers of the UK and Italy, are both set to speak at the Ideas Abu Dhabi festival.

During Wednesday and Thursday daytime, an invite-only forum will debate subjects from artificial intelligence to the development of the hyperloop high-speed transport system.

In the evening, a public festival, open to all, will stage presentations on many of the same topics. Emirati singer Balqees will also be performing.

“Ideas Abu Dhabi has rapidly become a premier opportunity for some of the most engaging thinkers and doers from across the world to meet, connect, and elevate compelling ideas,” said Dan Porterfield, chief executive of the Aspen Institute, the US-based think tank which runs the event along with Tamkeen, a Government of Abu Dhabi company.

“Tamkeen have been wonderful partners to the Aspen Institute in this venture, and we are thrilled to be returning to the UAE’s capital – a vibrant international hub that is always looking ahead to the future – to continue engaging with the vital issues of our time.”

Ideas Abu Dhabi festival will take place at the New York University campus on Saadiyat Island and this year is the third occasion it has been held in the capital.

Last year, David Cameron, the former UK Prime Minister, spoke at the event in one of his few appearances since he lost a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU in 2016.

Mr Brown, UK Prime Minister between 2007 and 2010, will discuss globalisation during his address at the forum while Mr Renzi will speak about populism.

Mr Renzi resigned as leader of the centre left Democratic Party in Italy last year after a crushing defeat in parliamentary elections, which saw the anti-establishment Five Star Movement emerge with the most votes.

In public talks, Josh Giegel, the co-founder of Virgin Hyperloop One, will set out how the transport system has the potential to transform cities and the wider MENA region. It is hoped that the first commercial hyperloop transport system will be built in Abu Dhabi.

Other speakers at the public events include Daniel Tammet, an ‘autistic savant’ whose condition allows him to perform incredibly complex calculations and other intellectual feats in his head.