Delegates during the Arab Strategy Forum 2018 at The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai International Financial Centre Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: The Arab Strategy Forum 2018 started today (Wednesday) with regional leaders and political analysts breaking down what the world and the region can expect in the future.

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council, and Lieutenant General Shaikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior attended the forum.

Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Image Credit: Falah Gulzar, Trainee Social Media Journalist

The focus of the event was on what trends might be shaping the future, especially in the region. Several high profile attendees and speakers were at the event, including the former Prime Minister of Iraq Dr Ayad Allawi, ministers from Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan as well as political analysts and economists.

The first session at the forum had American political analysts and author Ian Bremmer speak about the mega trends that will shape 2019.

"What worries me is that when we look at all the geo-political trends, almost all the geo-political relations in the world are trending negatively," Bremmer said, addressing the attendees.

According to him, while 2019 would not be horrible, as many feared, what did worry him is the strain on international relations that had been witnessed in the past decade.

"During the economic downturn in 2008 all the major economies across the world agreed that there is a problem and we need a solution and they worked at the G20 level to tell the global consumer that they were going to fix it. We have spent the last decade losing political resilience. So, when the next big economic downturn hits I worry that our reaction will be different. We will blame each other, the Americans will blame the Chinese, the Chinese will blame the Americans and the Europeans will blame each other."

The sessions that followed covered the state of the world and regional economy and politics. The last session of the day was on the GCC's role in connecting the East and West by Indian-American author Parag Khanna, who said that he was brought up in the UAE. The focus of his talk was on how the world was becoming increasingly multi-polar.

"Fundamentally, there is a deep miscalculation in the Trump administration's belief that the US is the centre of trade. However, North America doesn’t need trade, unlike Europe and Asia. The most significant trading relationship is Europe and Asia. It’s not transatlantic."