Clockwise from top left: Omar Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy, and Remote Work Applications; Ohood Al Roumi, Minister of State for Government Development and the Future; Amy Webb, CEO of Future Today Institute; and Carlo Ratti, Director of MIT SENSEable City Lab Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Dubai Future Forum has revealed its speaker list, comprising more than 70 of the world’s leading futurists from 45 organisations who will lead discussions around “the most pressing questions of our time”.

Held under the patronage of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Dubai Future Foundation (DFF), the forum will take place on October 11 and 12.

The event is organised by DFF. It will represent the world’s largest gathering of futurists and will convene 400 of the world’s leading experts, scientists, innovators, and luminaries at the Museum of the Future in 30 sessions including panel discussions and live debates.

Among the line-up are several UAE ministers and officials, including:

• Mohammed Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs and Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees and Managing Director of Dubai Future Foundation

• Ohood Al Roumi, Minister of State for Government Development and the Future

• Omar Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy, and Remote Work Applications and Deputy Managing Director of Dubai Future Foundation

• Abdulla Nasser Lootah, Director-General, Prime Minister’s Office, UAE

• Omar Ghobash, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for Culture and Public Diplomacy

• Ahmad Al Bedwawi, Assistant Secretary General of Government Policies in the General Secretariat of the Cabinet, Deputy Head of UAE Government Regulations Lab Committee

• Khalfan Belhoul, CEO, Dubai Future Foundation

Opening keynote

Amy Webb, CEO of Future Today Institute, said: “CEOs, government leaders, policymakers and central banks are grappling with immense volatility and critical uncertainties. Their decisions today will determine the long-term fate of human civilisation. Strategic foresight has never been more urgent and more necessary. The world’s most eminent forecasters are gathering at the Dubai Future Forum to challenge leaders – and each other – to be more ambitious in meeting our emerging global challenges.”

She added: “Dubai has established itself as a global hub for foresight and future-thinking. I’m excited to open the first Dubai Future Forum with a keynote about the value of strategic foresight within business, government and society – and how the field itself must evolve.

“We must not allow our futures to be constrained by the present. Business and government leaders need to confront their cherished beliefs, to seek out signals of change, understand their implications, as well as to plan for the best possible outcomes.”

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Angeliki Kapoglou, Strategy and Innovation Researcher, European Space Agency, said: “At COP26 it became clear that there is a clash between our climate ambitions and the energy reality. Annual clean energy investment worldwide will need to more than triple by 2030, to around $4 trillion.”

She added that “the challenge of decarbonising Europe’s energy sector over the coming few decades is a massive one”.

Joshua Polchar, Strategic Foresight Lead at OECD, said: “We come from different places but we’re all citizens of the future. Where we’re headed depends on dialogue. Shaping the future is a collaborative effort, which is why connecting across borders is so valuable.”

Ohood Al Roumi said: “The Dubai Future Forum, which will convene more than 400 global experts and 45 international organisations, reflects the UAE’s efforts to strengthen global partnerships aimed at foreseeing the future. It will also identify the most pressing challenges and important opportunities that will impact societies tomorrow.”

Focus on tech

She added: “We are witnessing rapid change, particularly around the Fourth Industrial Revolution and advanced technology. If harnessed, they can help us to build a brighter future. But they first require appropriate ecosystems and frameworks in which to flourish. These systems will help to enhance world’s resilience and readiness for the future and encourage the continuous building of capabilities and skills to meet our needs in the coming decades and beyond.”

Jose Cordeiro, Vice Chair at Humanity Plus, said: “We are in the middle of a technological revolution that will soon achieve radical life extension and indefinite lifespans for all those interested. I believe that we are going to see more technological advances in the next 20 years than in the last 2,000 years.”

He added: “Major technology companies - Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, IBM, Microsoft, etc. - are entering the biology, health and medicine sectors as the biggest business opportunity of the future. Aging is the common enemy of humanity; aging causes more deaths that all other causes combined. More and more people are beginning to study aging as a disease, but fortunately, a curable disease. Certainly, we know now that aging is a medical condition that is treatable, and apparently reversible.”

Catarina Tully, Managing Director at School of International Futures, said: “It is such a privilege to discuss inter-generational fairness solutions at Dubai Future Forum’s inaugural global futures event, where I look forward to meeting next generation change-makers using foresight to build a better world.”

Omar Sultan Al Olama said: “Under its leadership, the UAE has established a comprehensive and clear strategy to design the future of various government, economic and social sectors. We have developed a leading model for foresight and shaped ideas that will help build a brighter future.”

He added: “Dubai Future Forum is an annual platform for discussing future opportunities and challenges, identifying priorities, and enhancing collaboration between governments, the private sector and societies to keep pace with the rapidly evolving world around us.”

Vilas Dhar, President and Trustee of the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation, said: “Our future is a collective enterprise - one that requires shared positive intention, commitment to common action, and a belief that a better future is possible. The Dubai Future Forum is a stellar example of what becomes possible when we ground conversations about humanity’s future in the combination of technological optimism and human dignity. The conversations held this week inspire us - both in what is possible and what is essential to build a just, sustainable and thriving world for the 21st century and beyond.” 

Jamie Metzl, Founder and Chair of OneShared.World, said: “I am delighted to be participating in the Dubai Future Forum alongside fellow leading thinkers and doers from across the globe. Because the rate of technological change is accelerating, we must also accelerate efforts to ensure our most cherished values will guide the application of our most powerful and world-changing technologies.”

Stuart Candy, Director of Situation Lab at Carneige Mellon, said: “The Dubai Future Forum is shaping up to be a landmark event in the unfolding history of experiential futures: one of the planet’s first cultural institutions of foresight hosting its first major gathering of futurist practitioners.” He added: “My hope for the event is that people come away with a stronger than ever commitment to the promise of social foresight; the collective human capacity, which we are still only just beginning to develop, to think and feel ahead.”

Carlo Ratti, Director of MIT SENSEable City Lab, said: “We like to imagine that our cities are becoming ‘Senseable’ – with its double meaning, both ‘able to sense’ and ‘sensible’. We like the word ‘Senseable city’, as opposed to ‘Smart city’, as the former puts the emphasis on the human – as opposed to technological – side of things.”

Mark Beer, Minister of Justice of Asgardia, highlighted: “As the world looks forward, with hope for a brighter future, where better than Dubai, as the fulcrum between East and West, for experts to gather to discuss the realms of possibility. The United Arab Emirates recently celebrated 50 years of connecting minds and creating the future, and now looks forward to the world in 2071, it’s centenary. Bringing visionaries and futurists together at the Dubai Future Forum to discuss and debate the future, and how to prepare for it, is not only critical for Dubai and the UAE, but also for the future of humanity and science.”