From left: Razan Al Mubarak, Alisha Moopen and Tamer Makary. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Three UAE residents chosen as Young Global Leaders (YGLs) by the World Economic Forum (WEF) will be joining a five-year programme to solve and mitigate a range of challenges in the Middle East and beyond.

The YGLs from the UAE were selected earlier this month, joining the 100-strong cohort of international peers, nominated every year.

At this early stage, the details and specifics of the five-year programme have not been discussed. The WEF says online that the YGLs were nominated “because of their ground-breaking work, creative approaches to problems and ability to build bridges across cultures and between business, government, and civil society”.

The three YGLs from the UAE for 2018 are Razan Al Mubarak (Emirati), secretary-general of the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi; Alisha Moopen (Indian), executive director of Aster DM Healthcare; and Tamer Makary (American), founder of Ethica Partners.

Speaking to Gulf News following her selection, Moopen cautioned there are new threats on the horizon that must be dealt with swiftly before they become a big problem.

“Over the decades, significant progress has been made in combating infectious diseases globally. However, we have now arrived at a stage where lifestyle diseases and the misuse of technology have spawned an entirely new range of issues, including emotional and mental well-being, which need to be tackled proactively before they become a huge burden,” Moopen said.

She also drew attention to a more empathetic approach in community outreach.

“I firmly believe that we have to do justice to that word ‘mankind’. There has to be kindness towards each person, towards society, and towards mankind at large. The general purpose of mankind is to serve others and be a better person. In fact, Islam establishes the moral framework within which social conscience is thoroughly encouraged.

“Hence, I am quite involved in social welfare through our Aster Volunteers programme and greatly appreciate being among those who commit their time, effort and capabilities for the benefit of mankind such as the inspirational individuals selected to be part of the Young Global Leaders programme this year,” she said.

Also speaking to Gulf News, Makary highlighted the plight of people with sight problems in Sub-Saharan Africa.

“The rate of blindness and vision impairment is twice that of the global average in Sub-Saharan Africa. Of the existing number of visually impaired, approximately 80 per cent of cases are preventable or treatable. This is a startling reality that we all need to face up to and tackle,” Makary, 39, said.

Makary, who is of Egyptian origin, helped establish Sub-Saharan Africa’s first not-for-profit subspeciality eye hospital.

“There is a lot I am very proud of, but one thing stands out: my role in helping to establish the Magrabi ICO Cameroon Eye Institute in Yaoundé, Cameroon,” said Makary, who is also the vice-president of fund-raising at the Africa Eye Foundation.

Makary said the hospital in Cameroon provides high-quality and affordable eye care procedures and helps strengthen health care systems by nurturing and growing the next generation of African eye care experts.

At the Africa Eye Foundation, Makary championed the launch of “the world’s first-ever” Development Impact Bond in eye care, which is a results-based contract in which investors provide financing for social programmes upfront, and donor organisations repay investors their principal plus a return based on realised performance in delivering social outcomes, he said.

Makary currently splits his time between the UAE and the US, where he lives with his wife and four young children.