Former United Kingdom Prime Minister Tony Blair at New York University Abu Dhabi on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Courtesy: NYUAD

Abu Dhabi: Former British prime minister Tony Blair has urged students in the UAE to emerge as global leaders and work together to address the world’s challenges.

Addressing more than 200 students at New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) as part of a special course called ‘Language of Business’, Blair emphasised how an open-minded approach can create a better future for people.

“We desperately need the next generation of leaders to understand how interconnected the world is set to become. They have to have the ability to sit together, work together, understand one another and come to common solutions,” Blair said.

He added that the political distinction between an open-minded approach and a close-minded approach is the single most significant factor set to define geopolitics in the 21st century. “It is open-mindedness that will turn threats into opportunities, and crises into a future that works for people. Here at NYU Abu Dhabi, you have a remarkable opportunity to be part of that future,” he added.

Following a far-ranging conversation with Frank Luntz, a prominent American political consultant and pollster who is teaching the course to students, Blair fielded questions from many students.

The Language of Business course focuses on how to identify and apply the most effective business language and communication techniques in real-world settings.

“There is no educational institution as international as NYU Abu Dhabi, and no leader more international than Tony Blair,” said Luntz. “If we are to solve the world’s challenges, it will start with Tony Blair and it will happen at NYU Abu Dhabi.”

Luntz told students that their commitment to the Middle East is unprecedented. “You give me hope that there are solutions, that there are people who will make a difference and who have the courage to stand up for their convictions even when it seems impossible. This commitment has created an environment like no other place.”

Luntz’s course materials focused on fundamentals of public communication in the real world by analysing videos, articles in current newspapers, magazines and online sources. Students also read Luntz’s book, ‘Win: The Key Principles to Take Your Business from Ordinary to Extraordinary’.

The university’s Vice-Chancellor Al Bloom said: “It was an immense privilege for our students, faculty, and institution to hear from former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. His own commitment to look beyond our own shores, seek to understand others, and to interact with them with sensitivity and complexity so deeply reinforces our own.”