(centre) His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (R), Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai, and Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (L), First Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of the UAE, at a session at World Governments Summit in Dubai on Sunday Image Credit: X/@DXBMediaOffice

Dubai: With a formal pact to launch Dubai air taxi service in 2026 and a series of high level sessions and meetings, the Day Zero of the World Governments Summit (WGS) 2024 got underway on Sunday, a day ahead of this year’s main WGS sessions kicking off on Monday under the theme ‘Shaping Future Governments.’

Get exclusive content with Gulf News WhatsApp channel

Leaders welcome delegates 

In their messages, President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, welcomed guests who arrived in the UAE to attend the WGS.

The three-day event will be attended by over 25 heads of state and governments, 120 government delegations and over 85 international organisations, along with distinguished participation of thought leaders, experts and more than 4,000 attendees.

The President said the UAE continues its efforts to promote cooperation between world governments, stemming from the belief that current challenges can only be navigated through joint efforts and a collective commitment to unified visions that will see the world to a safer, more prosperous future.

“The World Governments Summit is the UAE’s responsible invitation to the whole world, to join the dialogue, share knowledge and invest in new ideas and creative energies that are capable of creating innovative solutions to development challenges, and meet peoples’ expectations of a good life and a better future,” said Sheikh Mohamed.

Meanwhile, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid said: “The UAE believes that real governments are capable of translating people’s ambitions into a sustainable reality. When government work is afflicted with stalling and procrastination, when it is dependent on happenstance, these are signs of the end of development, and the end of human civilization itself. When governments fail to deliver their mission of leading and enacting change, they waive their entitlement to the present and the future; they retire from life."

Air Taxi agreement

Sheikh Mohammed attended the agreement signing of the launch of the air taxi service in Dubai by 2026.

Under the agreement, Dubai will be the first city in the world with a fully-developed network of vertiports for permanent air taxi services by 2026 via electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft.

The agreement was signed by the Dubi Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA)and Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA), and the British Skyports Infrastructure and the US Joby Aviation, on the sidelines of the World Government Summit.

The inaugural phase of the air taxi service encompasses four vertiport stations situated near key locations such as Dubai International Airport, Dubai Downtown, Dubai Marina, and Palm Jumeirah. Notably, the journey from Dubai International Airport to Palm Jumeirah is anticipated to be a mere 10-minute flight, a significant reduction from the 45-minute commute by car.

High level meetings

Sheikh Mohammed met with Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Chairman of the World Economic Forum (WEF), Davos. The meeting discussed the importance of coordination between governments to adopt common approaches to address current and future challenges. Professor Klaus Schwab emphasised the vital role played by the World Governments Summit in shaping new visions for governance and fostering international cooperation.

Sheikh Mohammed also met with Arab Ministers of Finance taking part in the Arab Fiscal Forum on Day Zero of the WGS 2024.

Sheikh Mohammed welcomed the Arab delegations participating in the WGS, as he opened the forum attended by several economic and fiscal decision makers in the Arab world. He stressed the need to harmonise perspectives and exchange expertise in the region, especially among Arab governments, to achieve sustainable development, a common goal for world governments.

During the forum, Arab ministers of finance expressed their keenness to enhance their countries’ cooperation with the UAE, and benefit from the UAE’s pioneering experience.

The Arab ministers of finance said their participation in the WGS is aimed at keeping pace with the latest global trends and drawing insights from the success stories of economies that have effectively addressed economic challenges.

The forum was attended by Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, First Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of the UAE.

Graduation ceremony

Meanwhile, Sheikh Mohammed together with Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai, also attended the graduation of the first cohorts of both the ‘Global Government Leaders Programme’, launched in July 2023, and the ‘Future Government Leaders Programme in the Arab World’, launched in partnership between the UAE government and the Arab Administrative Development Organization (ARADO) at the League of Arab States.

Abu Dhabi Dialogue

The Day Zero of WGS witnessed the Seventh Abu Dhabi Dialogue (ADD) Ministerial Consultation meeting where ministers of labour and human resources from 16 Asian countries, sending and receiving workers, discussed leveraging advanced technology for innovative initiatives aimed at resolving labor disputes and expediting verdicts. They also aimed to strengthen wage protection systems and facilitate skill mobility among participating countries. The focus was on improving labor market regulations and initiatives.

7 million workers insured

Dr Abdulrahman Al Awar, UAE Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation, highlighted the significant transformations in labour markets and emphasised the importance of aligning labour market policies with global changes. He also underscored the UAE’s commitment to developing partnerships through initiatives like the Abu Dhabi Dialogue to promote protection and social justice for workers.

He noted that the Unemployment Insurance Scheme in the UAE covers 7 million workers, while the Workers Protection Programme covers 98.8 per cent of the workforce in the UAE labour market.

The meeting included four working sessions on electronic dispute settlement, wage protection systems, skills mobility and gender equality.

Young Arab Leaders

On Day Zero, the third edition of the Arab Meeting for Young Leaders was attended by youth ministers, leaders of youth empowerment institutions, and distinguished young Arab leaders in the development sector. The meeting underscored the role of Arab youth in strengthening connections to identity and language, and embodying the spectrum of shared human values.

Marking the launch of the Meeting Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Arab Youth Centre, stated: “The World Governments Summit has succeeded in strengthening the UAE’s position as a global capital for anticipating the future of government work and comprehensive development efforts.”

Building capabilities

He also directed The Arab Youth Cenre to fortify efforts specifically geared towards nurturing and building the capacities of Arab youth cadres in the public utility sector and within institutions concerned with humanitarian and development work.

The Arab Meeting for Young Leaders, held under the title ‘What does it mean to be an Arab?’, hosted a group of sessions, workshops, and presentations which discussed the importance of empowering young Arab leaders, investing in their capacities, and building their capabilities. The meeting also hosted a ministerial session that reviewed proposals and recommendations from both decision-makers and youth leaders with the aim of building on the takeaways of previous editions. It also addressed specialised programmes and initiatives intended to discover talents, embracing the energies of the youth, and supporting their ambitions.

Communicate, empower

Addressing a session, the UAE Minister of Youth Affairs and astronaut Dr Sultan Al Neyadi highlighted that empowering the youth is a priority for the leadership of the UAE. “All successful people have two things in their lives: character building and readiness for opportunities,” he said and stressed on the importance of communicating with the youth.

Fiscal Forum

The UAE Ministry of Finance concluded the Eighth Arab Fiscal Forum, organised in partnership with the Arab Monetary Fund and the International Monetary Fund, on the sidelines of the Day Zero of the WGS.

The participants adopted a set of recommendations on the necessity of continuing efforts to expand the fiscal space, achieving a balance between enhancing public revenues and sustaining public debt. They confirmed the necessity of maintaining efforts to combat climate change to preserve resources while strengthening international cooperation efforts to mobilise more financial resources directed to Arab countries to reduce the climate financing gap.

Moreover, the participants agreed on the need to strengthen social safety nets and minimise the direct support mechanisms that are most expensive and least effective. They stressed on the importance of having a medium-term framework for public finances and mitigating their risks in a way that enhances investor and market confidence. This will help in benefiting from artificial intelligence opportunities to support digital economy activities, enhance digital financial services, as well as boost the efficiency of the digital infrastructure and governance in public institutions.

Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, First Deputy Ruler of Dubai, and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, said: “Rapid global changes require designing fiscal policies that meet the needs of national economies. This is at the core of our priorities and aligns with the discussions taking place at the Forum.”

He highlighted that the Forum’s sessions addressed various topics that are at the forefront of UAE’s strategic priorities, including the future of fiscality, the application of sustainable fiscal policies to foster financial empowerment, trust and transparency, shaping the future, sustainable development, innovation, boosting economic growth, and fostering competitive business environments.

He praised collaborative efforts that work towards strengthening Arab cooperation to overcome regional financial and economic challenges, ensuring sustainable growth and continued social well-being across the Arab world.

Earlier, Mohamed Hadi Al Hussaini, Minister of State for Financial Affairs, inaugurated the eighth Arab Fiscal Forum, attended by Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund; Dr. Fahad M. Alturki, Director General and Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of the Arab Monetary Fund; Dr. Abdulhamid Alkhalifa, Director-General of the OPEC Fund for International Development; along with Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors in Arab countries, presidents and managers of regional and international financial institutions, and 100 participants from senior officials and specialists in regional and international institutions.

It was pointed out that several promising methodologies are emerging, most notably the approach of utilising the public sector balance sheet to generate value from public assets. This strategy capitalises on state-owned assets to maximise their economic return and transform them from dormant entities into active contributors to national wealth.

Four dialogue sessions

The Eighth Arab Fiscal Forum included four dialogue sessions – Macroeconomic Developments and Prospects, Successful Energy Subsidy Reforms and Targeted Social Safety Nets, A Balance Sheet Approach for Generating Value from Public Assets, and Generating Revenue through Tax Administration Reforms.

Ministerial roundtable

Upon the conclusion of the Eighth Arab Fiscal Forum, a ministerial roundtable was organised, with the participation of Arab Finance Ministers, Vitor Gaspar, Director of the Fiscal Affairs Department at the International Monetary Fund, and Dr Fahad M Alturki, Director General and Chairman of the Board of the Arab Monetary Fund.