Abu Dhabi:The sectors with the most promising opportunities in the next 50 years and the new prospects that will be available in the future for our rapidly evolving world were the main topics on the agenda for the second chapter of the Mohamed Bin Zayed Majlis for Future Generations titled ‘New Opportunities’.

The virtual third edition of the Majlis took place on March 14, 2021, under the theme Thriving in the Next Normal, where discussions shed light on future opportunities, outlining the role the youth can play in the UAE’s plans to drive sustainable development, which, in turn, would require working to expand young people’s skills and empowering them to be the architects and leaders of the future.

Opportunities and Values in the Next 50 Years 

Delivering a keynote speech titled ‘Opportunities and Values in the Next 50 Years’ as part of the Majlis’ second chapter on ‘New Opportunities’, His Excellency Mohammad bin Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs, said: “The UAE began 50 years ago as a nation of dreamers who trusted the vision of our leadership and our Founding Fathers. We believed that our country deserves the best, and we worked day and night to get the UAE to where it is today on the international stage.”

“We live in a time when we must all work to create our own opportunities. We must master the ability to forecast the future and its transformations, and then imagine and create opportunities that we can benefit from in the present,” H.E. Al Gergawi explained. “The progress we will see in the next 50 years will…dwarf the progress humanity has made over hundreds of thousands of years. The knowledge we accumulated in the past two years alone is equivalent to knowledge produced by all of humankind since the dawn of human civilisation.”

“The reality we live in today is different and offers tremendous opportunities, but the most important factor remains the youth’s ability to imagine these opportunities, anticipate their effectiveness, and implement them on the ground,” H.E. asserted. “There will be new sectors with jobs that don’t exist yet, therefore it is imperative that young people develop a flexible mindset and knowledge-based skills such as programming or entrepreneurship.”

“In the future, everyone will be an entrepreneur – be they doctors, accountants, or anything else – because entrepreneurship is a key component of the future,” H.E. Al Gergawi continued. “Our role as governments is to provide a suitable work environment in which laws and legislations are in place, guaranteeing equal opportunities. The most important role for the youth is to seize these opportunities.”

“The UAE youth’s dedication, their loyalty and love for our country, and their devotion to be the best motivation to strive for a bright future,” H.E. reaffirmed.

Greener, Smarter, Stronger

A session titled ‘Greener, Smarter, Stronger’ explored the great opportunity that the UAE’s Golden Jubilee brings to encourage UAE youth to imagine a future that is more sustainable, smarter, and more inclusive, with Ali Alshimmari, National Expert Program participant and Offshore Construction Manager at the National Petroleum Construction Company, moderating the discussion.

Speaking at the session, Her Excellency Hessa bint Essa Buhumaid, Minister of Community Development, emphasised that inclusivity is the driving force behind her approach to working with her team, where comprehensive development and the creation of happy families are the essential goals driving efforts to ensure a society where no one is left behind.

H.E. Buhumaid went on to outline some of the Ministry’s priorities, citing “the creation of happy families” as an important one. “The government spends more than AED177 million every year on marriage funds and grants given directly to newlyweds or couples about to get married,” she noted. “It’s  not only about money; we also want to ensure that they are equipped with knowledge about married life. This is to ensure the sustainability of our future generations and to ensure that we are not just creating families, but creating happy, sustainable generations for the future.”

“Another huge area where we work is People of Determination,” H.E. continued. “People of Determination is not a segment of the community that is left alone or dealt with separately. It is a segment that is already embedded in all government initiatives.”

An Engine Driving Youth Efforts

Speaking at the same session, H.E. Mariam Almheiri, Minister of State for Food and Water Security, asserted: “We need to be ready to build more resilient food systems. And this is what the youth should know, that just because we are secure now doesn’t mean we have to stop here. We need to continue our work, and the work we have ahead of us in the next 50 years will be more tech-based and more exciting. We are no longer looking for farmers, but rather for agri-technologists. We are looking for a new generation of youth who think of sustainability and…resources to ensure that we have enough food for all in the future.”

“I always encourage the youth to do what they’re passionate about, because that will make it much easier for them to overcome the hurdles that come their way,” H.E. added. “We need to commit to what we believe in. It is important for youth to listen and grasp what they hear to unleash their creativity and stimulate analytical thinking…We are blessed here in the UAE that our leadership inspires us to dream, so I encourage everyone to dream, and dream big.”

Opportunities in The Next 50 Years

In another session, titled ‘Opportunities in The Next 50 Years’, H.E. Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, Managing Director and Group Chief Executive Officer at Mubadala Investment Company, asserted that the UAE leadership has great faith in the country’s youth and is counting on their energy and hard work to accomplish the objectives of the next 50 years.

The possibilities available for young generations today did not exist three decades ago, when opportunities were limited and concentrated in just a few sectors, H.E. explained. “But today, our country ventures into completely new sectors we could dream about in the past; the UAE has become a global competitor in such industries as technology and space. And with that comes greater opportunities for our youth to be creative, to innovate, and to contribute to our country’s progress and prosperity over the next 50 years.”

“My advice to the youth – whom I consider to be the group most capable of adapting to technological advancements – is to work on developing their skills in this vital sector that is poised to be central to all of our plans and aspirations in the future,” H.E. Al Mubarak said. “In light of the rapid developments that our world has witnessed in the past four years, our strategy has shifted to focus on emerging and promising future sectors. We boosted our investment in technology and strengthened our presence in the markets that export them, from China and Japan in the East to the United States and Europe in the West.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the pace of digital transformation around the world, proving that this transformation was necessary,” H.E. concluded. “What we had expected to unfold in five years was accomplished in just one year.”

A Sustainable Future for Everyone

For his part in the ‘Greener, Smarter, Stronger’ session, Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, Chief Executive Officer of Masdar, highlighted the UAE’s ability to create a truly sustainable future for all, with young people firmly at the centre to the country’s ambitions. “[The UAE] was the first Gulf nation to sign the Paris Agreement,” he asserted, noting that seven out of 10 young people in the UAE say they would make changes to their daily life to protect the planet.

“Many of our youth are going to find rewarding careers at Masdar City,” Al Ramahi said. “Today, the city is home for innovative businesses that will need skilled employees to work on addressing key challenges surrounding sustainability. Many of these ideas and ventures are made possible by ‘The Catalyst,’ our start-up technology accelerator based in Masdar City.”

The Masdar CEO went on to cite another important initiative Masdar has been working on for the past three years: the ‘Youth 4 Sustainability’ strategic platform that is equipping young people with the skills they need to pursue careers in the sustainability industry. “Our learning app aims to offer skilled knowledge for the jobs of the future to up to one million youths by 2030,” he revealed, stressing that, “If we are to address the world’s climate action plan, we will need the power of our youth.”

Bringing Culture Change to the Agriculture Sector

Rounding up the speakers in the ‘Greener, Smarter, Stronger’ session, Hamed Al Hamed, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Gracia Group, said: “The thing that makes me the happiest is productivity, the impact of which was evident in the UAE’s appeal to many European students who came here to learn from our progress in the agriculture sector. I think one of the key challenges would be changing the perceptions of those working in the sector and encouraging them to think creatively. We also need to identify the challenges that face us to deploy all the right resources and create new ways to work. The role of innovators and entrepreneurs in the agricultural sector is a significant one.”

“One of my happiest and proudest moments on this project was meeting H.H. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces,” Al Hamed added. “I faced a lot of hurdles and doubted that I am dreaming too big, however, with what we have achieved so far, I proved that I could do it, and that this place is full of possibilities. You just need passion and hard work to achieve your dreams.”

Learning to Rethink

Interviewed by Becky Anderson, Managing Editor at CNN Abu Dhabi, in a session titled ‘Learning to Rethink’, Organisational Psychologist at the Wharton School of Business and Bestselling Author of ‘Think Again’ Dr. Adam Grant reaffirmed his belief that there was cause for optimism looking forward. “There are three things that make me hopeful about the future right now,” he said. “The first is that we have so many brilliant young people who have new ideas and bold visions for how we can make the world around us better. That is what inspires me in my job every day – getting to teach students who are 20, 21, 25 years old, and soaking up their energy and enthusiasm.”

The second thing Dr. Grant mentioned on his list was supported by Emily Bianchi’s research, which explored what happens when people go through economic recessions at the start of their careers. “The findings reveal that if you enter your career when the economy is struggling or in a difficult situation – like a global pandemic – you end up more satisfied with your job 10-15 years later,” he noted.

“My third source of hope also comes from Emily’s research,” he continued. “It turns out that leaders who begin their careers during a recession pay their employees more generously, behave more ethically, feel less entitled, and experience a greater sense of responsibility for the people below them. And I think that means the next generation of leaders might be more caring and more ethical.”

The New Aid Paradigm

The second Chapter of the Mohamed bin Rashid Majlis for Future Generations explored the unprecedented developments brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, which disrupted global supply chains.

Speaking at the session, Ashish Koshy, Chief Executive Officer of G42 Healthcare, asserted that advanced technology, including Artificial Intelligence (AI), is the future of healthcare, and was playing an important role in the fight against COVID-19. “We recently conducted COVID-19 viral genome sequencing, and with the help of our AI and bioinformatics capabilities, the resulting mutant detection could be reported within 24 hours,” he said.

“Strategic collaboration is the only way to tackle the pandemic, especially on vaccine development and making it accessible for nations globally,” Koshy stressed, revealing that the required quantities for mass vaccination in the UAE have been secured, and that G42 Healthcare was working with the Hope Consortium to ensure vaccines are distributed globally.

“Our collective goal is to move towards ‘COVID Zero’. The UAE  government’s efforts in managing the pandemic have been unmatched. I’m extremely proud of the Emirati Genome Programme, which could pave the way towards personalised medicine,” he explained. “I believe the next decade in healthcare will be all about patients and personalised precision medicine, which would in turn mean greater technology adoption and greater innovation. At this rate, the future workforce needs to be prepared to work alongside technology, AI, robotics, virtual reality, and of course, big data.”


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