Creativity is the spark that lights a fire of innovation in every field – from scientific discoveries to energy transition Image Credit: Shutterstock

This year the UN’s Creativity and Innovation Day falls on the eve of Eid.

Creativity and innovation are the central pillars of any business or economy. This has always been the case: When man realised that a wheel could be used to transport objects, or when our ancestors in the Emirates mastered the art of irrigation in the Oasis of Al Ain, individuals and teams needed to apply critical thinking, but most importantly they needed to be creative.

It is creativity and innovation that drives progress.

For energy companies dealing with some of the most complex and intractable challenges of our times such as energy transition, the role of creativity has never been more critical.

Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage

Take an area like Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage (CCUS). The International Energy Agency’s (IEA) Sustainable Development Scenario, states that carbon capture technologies will play an important role in supporting modern and flexible power systems. But we are not there yet. We are relying on technological advances to be deployed at scale, and to get there we need creativity and innovation.

Every day, people in the energy sector are tackling the most complex engineering, technical and logistical challenges. While it is a sector rightly known for a focus on safety and scientific exploration, it is equally one where problem solving and innovation are vital to success.

If we recognise that creativity is the secret sauce, then how do we foster it in business and in our everyday lives?

After the personal and spiritual reflection provided by the holy month of Ramadan, Eid is a time of great celebration. From decorating homes and streets to preparing delicious feasts, it is a time to harness the peace and tranquillity of Ramadan to create new pathways; to take the strength we build through Ramadan to develop and grow.

Time for starting afresh

It is a time for reflection and starting afresh; a momentous, happy and joyous occasion shared with family and friends, Muslim and non-Muslim. Following a month of fasting, it is a reminder and expression of trying to be a better person in all aspects of life.

This is one of the key lessons of creativity. To land on new ideas, collaborate and innovate, we also need time to reflect, to think quietly and order our thoughts. But we also need a bigger mission to spur us on and to give us purpose as we pursue new possibilities.

Adnan Bu Fateem

If we recognise that creativity is the secret sauce, then how do we foster it in business and in our everyday lives?

In the energy sector. We are collectively facing significant challenges, which coalesce around the need to transition to a sustainable energy future. At Mubadala Energy, this is the defining pillar of our strategy and provides the ‘purpose’ to frame the creativity and innovation needed to achieve these strategic goals.

Enhancing creativity

This has never been more important. Just take the development of tools like ChatGPT and other AI systems. The exponential growth of these technologies will accelerate problem solving. And while it is too early to be certain about the impact of such advances, it seems logical that we could see an explosion of creativity and innovation powered by these new tools.

These new systems have the potential to enhance creativity by providing access to vast amounts of information and data, while freeing up time for creative thinking. But there also profound limitations.

For instance, there is the question of purpose. Other than completing an arbitrary task, what is an AI tool being creative for?

For humans, if we are seeking to find ways of decarbonising operations or accelerating our contribution to the energy transition, for example, our creativity and innovation has value precisely because we place more meaning to the purpose of our efforts.

So this Eid I will be rejoicing with friends and family. But I will also be following Allah’s guidance for the human race to seek and increase its knowledge, including through creativity and innovation, as a means to finding solutions to the challenges we face today and in the future.

Adnan Bu Fateem is Vice President, Global Technical Operations at Mubadala Energy, the Abu Dhabi Head Quartered international energy company, where he is responsible for wide ranging technical projects as well as steering the company’s digital transformation strategy