191201 Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Image Credit: WAM

ABU DHABI: Preparations are underway for the UAE to host a major international Summit on migration, starting Monday.

The Summit — which is being held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai — will, for the first time, take place entirely online, using state-of-the art technology.

This year’s 13th Summit of the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) will be addressed by a number of senior international leaders, including Antonio Vitorino, Director General of the International Organisation for Migration, Angel Gurria, Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Ylva Johansson, European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Amira El Fadil, African Union Social Affairs Commissioner, and Luis Almagro, the Secretary-General of the Organization of American States.

Nasser bin Thani Al Hamli, Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation, the current chair of the GFMD, will deliver the keynote speech, followed by Luis Gallegos, Foreign Minister of Ecuador, the previous chair.

With over 1,700 senior officials from around the world already registered to participate in the seven-day event, the UAE has built its own unique online platform for the occasion. The GFMD’s Summit platform integrates multiple technologies to allow delegates to attend meetings, listen to interpreters across the four official Summit languages, organise their agendas and chat with one another. Delegates represent over 100 governments, as well as a number of global institutions, including the United Nations, the World Bank, the OECD, and the European Union.

Rapid adoption

Reflecting the rapid adoption of video conferencing technology over the last twelve months, the team organising the Summit has already road-tested the approach over the course of the UAE Chairmanship. Plans early last year for five major Regional Consultations had to be rapidly rearranged after the COVID-19 pandemic halted international travel. Instead, the UAE organisers ran over thirty individual online events for the Asia Pacific, the Middle East and South Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas between May and July 2020.

Abdulla Al Nuaimi, Assistant Undersecretary for International Relations and Communications commented on preparations, saying, “The UAE’s agenda for migration and development will be at the centre of global discussions over the next seven days. This Summit is a catalyst for our priorities, including increased global collaboration and innovative partnerships that improve the lives of people around the world.”

The UAE announced its candidacy to host the GFMD in May 2019 and took over as the chair from Ecuador in Quito in January 2020. The GFMD is an inter-governmental meeting of senior officials that gathers annually to discuss how migration is governed around the world. Now in its fourteenth year, the GFMD has led to a number of major global initiatives, bringing together governments with delegations from business, civil society, local administrations. The 13th GFMD Summit will last until the January 26 and feature thirty-four individual events.