Abu Dhabi: Sharing a clear vision for the future by bringing different ideas together and learning from different countries is the recipe for economic and social prosperity and peace across the world, said an entrepreneurship expert.

Raphael "Raffi" Amit, professor of entrepreneurship at the University of Pennsylvania and lead faculty member at the recently opened Wharton Entrepreneurship and Family Business Research Centre at CERT in Abu Dhabi told Gulf News during the Festival of Thinkers about how much of the development especially the real estate sector in Dubai relied on cheap credit.

"Much of the development across the UAE, particularly in Dubai, has been centred around the real estate sector which has drastically suffered due to highly leveraged projects that had to be postponed or cancelled, resulting in many people losing their jobs," said Amit, adding that the leverage ratio in Dubai by Western standards is exceptionally high; when markets shut down the impact was severe.

‘Worst is behind us'

"Hopefully the worst is behind us, we saw that the last quarter economic growth in the USA reached a ratio of three per cent. The capital market seems to be recovering fairly fast, especially the stock market in the West, so my hope is that the worst is behind us. I am optimistic about how things would soon look like across the UAE, particularly in Abu Dhabi," said the professor, who admires how the capital city invests in education and learning to help add to further economic growth.

The Festival of Thinkers has marked the participation of 110 intellectuals from across the world in addition to 15 scientists of novel laureates in various fields, which the entrepreneur considers one of the keys elements to the future growth, development and prosperity of the UAE.

"I think the effort and resources in bringing us together with students and businessmen is a vehicle that allows us to share ideas, knowledge and move forward together," said Amit.

Overview: Business plan contest


For the first time in the Middle East, CERT, in collaboration with the Wharton School, has launched the CERT-Wharton Business Plan Competition (BPC) which is open to all students across the UAE. The Cert-Wharton BPC is structured in three phases:

Phase I students submit a business overview hoping to advance as one of the top 25 semi-finalists

Phase II is the semi-final stage of the competition where the top 25 teams submit a full business plan and the "Great Eight" finalists are chosen

Phase III is the venture finals stage where the "Great Eight" finalists present live for a chance at cash prizes.