World Government Summit - Day 1, as it happened

Thousands of high-level officials – including presidents, ministers and Nobel laureates – come together at seventh annual event

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  • LATEST: World Government Summit: Global leaders gather in Dubai - live updates on Day 2
  • IMF Director Christine Lagarde, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri and former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will speak today
  • Pope Francis will speak to the governments of the world, following his historic trip to Abu Dhabi last week
  • Post-conflict governance, the future of learning and learning from Estonia, Europe's digital leader are all on the agenda

Global leaders are gathering in Dubai for the World Government Summit, a forum dedicated to "shaping the future of governments".

More than 4,000 decision-makers from 140 countries – including heads of state, ministers and business leaders – will help to shape the future of the planet at the event at Madinat Jumeirah this week.

Here you will find all the latest news from The National's reporters at the event.

All times UTC+4




19:00 Join us again tomorrow

That's it for our live updates today, but you can read more on Sheikh Abdullah's speech soon at Join us again tomorrow for more live updates from the World Government Summit.


18:44 Sheikh Abdullah: Papal visit a new chapter in inter-faith relations

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the UAE's Minister for Foreign Affairs said that Pope Francis's visit to the UAE took inter-religious dialogue into a new era.

Religions never incite hatred and violence, but have been misused by extremists to distort public perceptions, Sheikh Abdullah said.

But the warm welcome the pontiff received, and the grand spectacle of Pope Francis's Mass delivered a strong message of intent.

"Around 180,000 people witnessed the Pope's Mass at the end of his visit, one that is seen as a message from the Emirates and the leaders of religious, national and civilised duty to the world," he said.

The UAE's Foreign Minister thanked Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al Azhar for choosing Abu Dhabi for their visit.

Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdullah also said, is a model for religion and growth going hand in hand.


18:30 Pope Francis: Think of moral not just economic interests

Pope Francis urged policymakers and government leaders at the World Government Summit in Dubai to think about not only economic but social and moral interests when tackling global challenges.

"It is my sincere hope that the question underlying your reflections will not only be 'what are the best opportunities to take advantage of?' but 'what kind of world do we want to build together?'," he said through a video link.

This, he said, would lead policymakers to think about moral and environmental interests, not just economic ones.

"This question leads us to think of people and of persons rather than capital and economic interests. It is a question that does not look to tomorrow, but further into the future, to the responsibility weighing upon us; handing on this world of ours to those who will come after us, preserving it from environmental degradation and, even before that, from moral degradation," he said.


18:15 Pope Francis saw a 'modern country' during UAE visit

Pope Francis praised the UAE's initiative to create a tolerant society and expressed joy at seeing what has been built in the desert during his address to the World Government Forum.

"I saw a country seeking to transform into concrete initiatives the words tolerance, fraternity, mutual respect and freedom," he told the summit by video link.

"I returned home with the hope that many deserts in the world can bloom like this. I believe it is possible, but only if we grow together."


17:55 Imran Khan: Pakistan is ready for take off

Pakistan's economy is ready for take-off, Imran Khan said on Sunday.

The country's fiscal deficit is reducing, Pakistan is ready for international investment and to once again foster an environment for people to make money.

Mr Khan finished his speech saying "now is the time to invest in Pakistan, don’t miss the boat," adding that the country's tourism industry is ripe for success.


17:47 Khan says he wants to follow the example of the Prophet in Madinah

Imran Khan said he wants to use the example of the Prophet Mohammed in Madinah, as an example of how to govern.

He pointed to the ancient city's welfare system, rule of law and principles of charity as examples for Pakistan to follow.


17:40 Imran Khan says UAE's rise inspired him to enter politics

Imran Khan delivered a personal speech on how he went from playing cricket to becoming a politician at the World Government Summit in Dubai.

Speaking about how while he was playing cricket, he saw the rise of nations like UAE and China, Mr Khan said governance is the key to the success of a nation.

"A government has to be accountable, the more lean a government the more successful it is. The better the system of getting the best talent to the top, the better the country," he said.

But Pakistan, he said, does not have a system of bringing that talent up. He compared this to the city of Dubai where he said every time he visited it was different.

The UAE's Minister of State for International Affairs Dr Anwar Gargash is watching Mr Khan's speech, posting a photograph from the event.


17:02 Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed meets Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan

The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE's Armed Forces, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed welcomed Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan to the UAE, where he will deliver a keynote address at the World Government Summit.

In a meeting before the event, they discussed "issues of mutual interest."


16:55 UN President delivers strong defence of United Nations

The President of the UN General Assembly, Maria Fernanda Espinosa delivered a strong defence of the UN and its role in the world at the World Government Summit.

"I deeply believe in the universal values and principles enshrined in the charter of the United Nations," she said.

“The gap between our knowledge and the ability to act often falls short, leading exacerbated populism and nationalism,” she added.

"I make the case for multilateralism as an unreplaceable form of government ... we need more not less co-operation," Ms Espinosa said, before quoting the UAE's founding father Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

"Past years have emphasised the importance of unity as a vital necessity for providing a better life of the people, for ensuring stability in the country and realising the hopes and aspirations of our people," the leader of the UN General Assembly quoted Sheikh Zayed as saying.


16:38 Huffington: Evict the phone from your bedroom for happiness

Turning off your phone and evicting it from your bedroom can help your happiness, Arianna Huffington said in Dubai.

She also said that taking just one minute to appreciate your life before you look at your phone in the morning can improve your happiness.

"We should applaud the fact that you have a Minister of Happiness as well as a Minister for Artificial intelligence because it shows that you're not putting all of your emphasis on technology," she added, applauding the UAE for acknowledging and responding to mental health issues.


16:30 'Greedy' companies profit from digital addiction despite health impact, summit hears

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - February 10, 2019: Jeffrey Sachs, Director, Sustainable Development Solutions Network speaks about Launching the Global Happiness and Wellbeing Policy Report during day 1 at the World Government Summit. Sunday the 10th of February 2019 at Madinat, Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Jeffrey Sachs, director of the sustainable development solutions network at the United Nations, speaks about the launch of the Global Happiness and Well-being Policy report during at the World Government Summit in Dubai on Sunday. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Companies like Facebook need to move away from "greed" and do more for society, the World Government Summit in Dubai heard on Sunday.

During the launch of the Global Happiness and Well-being Policy report, the panel said that digital well-being is the next big challenge when it comes to global happiness.

Minister of Happiness and Well-being, Ohood Al Roumi, said that the way in which people interact with technology is a key factor affecting their personal happiness, with the main causes for concern being cyber bullying and addiction.


16:20 Arianna Huffington: there is a delusion that you always have to 'be on' to succeed

People around the world are under the delusion that they need to always "be on" to succeed, entrepreneur and author Arianna Huffington said on Sunday.

"We’re so used to running empty that we’ve forgotten what it means to be fully recharged and present in life," she said.

Dr Mehmet Oz, a television personality and doctor, said he conducted a study comparing the sleep patterns in the UAE to those in the United States.

He said people in the UAE get approximately 20 minutes less sleep than elsewhere in the world.


15:50 Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed meets world leaders


14:25 Christine Lagarde on why women will be affected by AI


14:12 Afghanistan health official wins best minister award

Crown Prince of Dubai and Vice President of the UAE Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid presents Dr Ferozuddin Feroz, Public Health Minister of Afghanistan, with the best minister award at the World Government Summit in Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Crown Prince of Dubai and Vice President of the UAE Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid presents Dr Ferozuddin Feroz, Public Health Minister of Afghanistan, with the best minister award at the World Government Summit in Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Afghanistan's health minister has been named the world's best minister at an awards ceremony in Dubai.

Dr Ferozudin Feroz was given his award after 17 years' service in the ministry.

Dr Feroz joined the ministry in 2002, shortly after the formation of Afghanistan's government after the US invasion of the country.

The minister has faced unique public health challenges in the war-torn country, from victims of bomb blasts to health problems caused by shattered infrastructure.

But it was his work in reducing infant mortality rates, which earned him the award.


14:05 Unicef Executive Director: most pressing challenge is ending violence

The most pressing challenge for 2019 is ending violence in all of its forms, the Executive Director of Unicef Henrietta Fore told The National.

"The most pressing challenge for 2019 will be ending violence, in schools, online, at home and in communities, for children and young people.

"If we can do that as a world it will be brilliant," the leader of the UN's children's organisation said.


13:55 Is this the future of healthcare?

Elsewhere at the summit, the future of health care is on display, including a robotic diagnostic and treatment system.

Displayed at the Museum of the Future, the technology would scan a body and reconstruct damaged tissue:

Another development on show was a "Mind Transfer Gateway" which transfers human consciousness into a robot.


13:45 Hariri: I want to make Lebanon like Dubai

Lebanon's new prime minister says he wants to make his country like Dubai.

Discussing his ambition for Lebanon, including economic reforms, at the World Government Summit in Dubai, Mr Hariri said his host city inspired him.


13:40 Hariri: Modernisation and female empowerment are priorities in Lebanon

Modernising the country's laws and encouraging women to participate in the workforce will form help parts of Lebanon's reforms, Saad Hariri, the country's prime minister, said on Sunday.

"Women in Lebanon represent 54 per cent of the population. Ignoring employing women is not only a missed opportunity but also a loss in our GDP," Mr Hariri said.

He also stressed the importance of public-private partnerships to encourage investment.


13:26 Saad Hariri: Key objective is to fight corruption

Lebanon will focus on fighting corruption and attracting investments, Saad Hariri, the head of its newly formed government said on Sunday.

Speaking at the World Government Summit in Dubai, Mr Hariri said that after nine months of forming a government, the country now has stability and security.

"We have developed a clear programme of reforms aimed at opening the way for foreign investors and working through it to develop our economy and eliminate corruption," he said, adding they are working on tough reforms, which he says will help them overcome their economic crisis.

"Lebanon’s new reforms and laws will oblige the lawmakers to ensure their full compliance and implementation."


13:14 Lagarde: AI will harm women more than men

Artificial intelligence will affect women far more than men, Christine Lagarde, the IMF's Managing Director said on Sunday.

She also said the UAE is a model for promoting women, praising the number of science graduates who are women.

"In this county, in particular, women have space, they are promoted, they are encouraged. Did you know that there are a very large number of science technology graduates that are women," she said.

"But artificial intelligence and this fourth technology revolution is going to have a more severe impact on women than on men," Ms Lagarde said.

"It is because many of the tasks that are done by women are more routine tasks, are more easily automated," she explained.


13:00 Four clouds on global economy

There are four clouds on the global economy: trade tensions, financial tightening, Brexit uncertainty and China's unexpected slowdown, Christine Lagarde, the IMF's Managing Director said in Dubai.

"Political determination for the common good", could clear these clouds, she said in conversation with CNN's business anchor Richard Quest at the World Business Forum.


12:24 Arianna Huffington in conversation with The National

Arianna Huffington sat down for an interview with The National on Sunday for an coming podcast.

Ms Huffington is due to speak in the Plenary Hall at 4pm today in a session titled "Mitigating the Risk of the Next Global Epidemic."

Ms Huffington said at her session she will discuss mental health and how stress and burnout are fuelling anxiety and depression.


11:50 'Refugee map' shows how data can find homes for displaced people

A map showing the refugee population density in the German city of Hamburg shows how data can be used to solve housing problems.

The map, created by Finding Places, a Hamburg city project, uses optically tagged Lego bricks to map the density of refugee settlements.

A map showing the density of refugee settlements in the German city of Hamburg on display in Dubai. Victor Besa / The National
A map showing the density of refugee settlements in the German city of Hamburg on display in Dubai. Victor Besa / The National


The best pictures of the World Government Summit so far:


11:43 launches voice-assisted platform in Dubai

Rapper and futurist entrepreneur launched a voice assisted programmed call Omega.

The AI-powered conversational and contextual voice assistant technology will be launched first in the Middle East and will work in both English and Arabic.

A demonstration of the voice assistant, which says can take on the "big boys of the voice assistant world", was met with a round of applause from attendees., the creator of the programme warned that people's data are being used without their permission, promoting his app as a solution to that.


11:28 Meet ANYmal – the four-legged robot 

A four-legged robot is on display at the World Government Summit in Dubai.

It is made by the company ANYbotics, who list climbing over tough agricultural terrains, safe operation in industry and quick first response as its potential uses.

But at the World Government Summit, it is simply there to entertain.


10:58 Three goals for French G7

French finance minister Bruno Le Maire said France will have three key goals for their G7 Summit in March.

Introducing a fairer global taxation system, which will solve problems of some people paying a lot of taxes, while large multinational corporations pay very little relative to their size.

A part of this would be introducing a minimum corporate tax.

The second point is a level playing field for responsible investment, to tackle the "debt trap", in which developing countries become vassal states to larger states which give them loans.

The third priority is to address economic and gender inequality within countries.


10:50 French Finance Minister: Development of UAE is incredible

France's finance minister, Bruno Le Maire, praised the economic development of the UAE, saying he is sure it will play an increasing role in world affairs.

He also thanked Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE's Armed Forces Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed for his welcome yesterday.


10:45 UAE to host global robotics challenge in Dubai

The UAE will host the First Global Challenge in October 2019, Minister of Cabinet Affairs and the Future Mohammed Al Gergawi announced at the World Governance Summit on Sunday.

The challenge will bring together the youth of the world to develop robots and artificial intelligence.

"If you want to see the future of the world, come to Dubai in October," US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry said at the announcement.

"The future of the world, the brightness of the world will be on display here in October," he said.


10:20 Happiness Minister: Well-being at top of UAE's agenda

Happiness and well-being are at the top of the UAE's agenda, the country's Happiness Minister said on Sunday.

Ohood Al Roumi, the UAE's Minister of State for Happiness and Well-being made the comments at the launch of the Global Happiness and Well-being Policy Report.


09:45 Tony Robbins: UAE succeeded because of focus

The UAE's success as one of the most prosperous nations in the world has come from focus, Tony Robbins, an entrepreneur and leadership expert said in Dubai.

Focusing on one theme each year, such as tolerance this year, contributes to the UAE's success he said.

"We have so many nationalities working together in unity [in the UAE]," he said, saying how equal-pay legislation in the UAE is something that even the United States does not have.

Mr Robbins delivered a rousing speech about innovation, leadership and philanthropy. Drawing from his own experiences, he encouraged the room – packed with successful global leaders – to think about how they can have an impact on changing people's lives.


09:23 Minister Gergawi: who holds data holds the future

Data is key to the future, the UAE's Minister for Cabinet Affairs and the Future said at the opening of the World Government Summit.

Minister Mohammed Al Gergawi also stressed the power the private sector holds over people's personal data, encouraging governments to innovate.

But governments must also respond to new areas of innovation. Legislation is lagging in key areas of technological change like driverless cars and 3D printing.


09:14 Schwab: we must rebuild trust in global system

Prof Klaus Schwab speaks during the World Government Summit in Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Prof Klaus Schwab speaks during the World Government Summit in Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Prof Klaus Schwab, the founder of the World Economic Forum, says we must rebuild trust in our global system.

People around the world do not want to wake up with nightmares, but "they want to wake up with dreams", Prof Schwab said.

He also pushed for a multi-stakeholder society – not just governments but businesses, NGOs and intergovernmental organisations.

He also said we have to regain control of the global system, moving from managing crises to constructing effective government.

The UAE, the host country of the World Government Summit, offers a vision for the future, Prof Schwab also said on Sunday at the opening session attended by UAE ministers.

The opening session was also attended by Mohammed Al Gergawi, the UAE Minister of Cabinet Affairs and the Future.


09:00 WGS begins with Tony Robbins and Christine Lagarde due to speak

The World Government Summit began on Sunday with a slick video highlighting the potential of the governments to make a difference to the seven billion people living in the world.

The video brought climate change, population movements and technological problems at the forefront of the issues facing humanity.

The video ended with the phrase, "be the one for the seven billion."

Christine Lagarde, Tony Robbins and UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed are all due to speak on the first day of the summit.