DUBAI- The Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Tuesday attended the 10th edition of the Arab Strategy Forum (ASF).

"Through the Arab Strategy Forum, we are trying to politically and economically anticipate the future," said His Highness Sheikh Mohammad. "The Arab world is going through rapid political and economic changes, and countries that cannot keep up with the changes risk falling behind for many years." "Changes in 2018 will be positive for the UAE, because it is amply prepared economically, politically and scientifically. We have a diverse economic base and strong international trade flow, as well as immense experience that qualifies us to deal with and benefit from economic changes in 2018," H.H. Sheikh Mohammad added.

"Major Arab nations will witness huge economic reforms in the coming year. From an economic perspective, I am optimistic about 2018. We hope that 2018 will be a breakthrough year for some critical Arab crises," he added.

The event was attended by H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council, H.H. Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, H.H. Lt. General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance, Mohammad bin Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs and The Future and Chairman of ASF, along with a number of ministers and senior officials.

Speaking to delegates at the 10th annual Arab Strategy Forum in Dubai, former French president Francois Hollande said that given a looming Brexit and the UKs departure from the European Union, France is an opportune position as the only EU nuclear power to lead a new defensive posture for Europe.

The forum draws global thinkers, visionaries, academics and business leaders to Dubai every year.

World experts at the forum echoed Hollandes concerns that economic, political and religious challenges lie ahead in an uncertain 2018 regionally and globally.

Forum panelist Dr. Robert Gates, former United States secretary of defence who served under eight American presidents, said, while speaking about the North Korean threat, that the isolated country will continue to tempt world powers, including the United States, in its weapons testing.

"I think 2018 will see North Korea have a proven Intercontinental Ballistic Missile capability to deliver a nuclear weapon anywhere in the world," Gates said.

That said, Gates added that there will be "a settling down" of the sabre rattling between North Korea and the US.

Copyright Emirates News Agency (WAM) 2017.