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|13 December, 2018

We create our reality, future: Sheikh Mohammed

The forum leverages expert opinions, reliable data and in-depth analysis to explore future challenges and opportunities in the region.

FILE IMAGE: Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, walks at Al Boursa street facing the DIFC building as he arrives to the official opening of the world's first functional 3D printed offices in Dubai May 23, 2016.

FILE IMAGE: Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, walks at Al Boursa street facing the DIFC building as he arrives to the official opening of the world's first functional 3D printed offices in Dubai May 23, 2016.

REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah

UAE - His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has said the UAE is optimistic about next year in political, economic and humanitarian levels.

Speaking at the 11th Arab Strategy Forum on Wednesday, Sheikh Mohammed said: "The year 2019 will witness many opportunities and challenges, but we are optimistic."

"The world's economy is in constant movement. However, we do not rely on reactions, but we try to create our reality and future. The region has many plans, projects and opportunities, and we hope that 2019 will witness the launch of these projects," Sheikh Mohammed said.

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"Economic and political opportunities are pushing us to think about all options, and we have chosen development, dialogue and advancement. The ability to anticipate the future is an ability to adapt to its variables and benefit from its opportunities," he added.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council, also attended the forum among other dignitaries and politicians to discuss forecasts of major events in 2019.

UAE should lead

Speaking at the forum, Parag Khanna, a leading geopolitical expert, urged the UAE government to transfer its resources and wealth to the region to help reignite its development at a time when the modern world made connected regions critical to a country's success.

"If we think of a productive, connected and regional future, it has to be done through investing in connectivity. This leadership has to come from the UAE, it is the thought leader, exporter of ideas, the role model. It has to be the market maker," said Khanna, noting an example of a unified Arab energy rail that would reconnect the entire region.

Khanna argued that today's war across the world is no longer over territories, but over connectivity. Now that the world is no longer controlled by one single power at the centre, Khanna said "what gives a country a state of power isn't only its ability to project influence around the world, but the stability of its own region".

"Power lies in what services one country is offering the other, and the utilities everyone needs. Security, energy, finance, capital, liquidity and technology are utilities ... No power is dominating other countries or forcing them to make - or avoid making - trade with others. The answer is the one that will force others to use its technologies," said Khanna.

Dubai making its way to become among the top-ranked cities is an "enormous achievement", but it adds the responsibility of exporting infrastructure,services and knowledge to the rest of the region, he said. He said to become one of the most stable global cities in the last 40 years takes so much investment, ability, vision and foresight. "What makes a global city important is that it doesn't view other cities as rivals but partners. The mentality of global cities is fundamentally different and Dubai embodies that progressive, sensible global mentality," he said.

Next steps

Khanna said the next step lies in finding ways to integrate technology to ensure transparency over services that citizens receive. "Optimising transportation, utility grids and smart homes need to be done."

As Dubai is considered to embrace the largest diversified population on earth, Khanna argued that providing a clear assurance for residents and stakeholders continue to build it as a global city.
"Building the ecosystem that Dubai started to do will require constant attention, more nurturing and inviting talents from all over the world," said Khanna.

He addressed the "Asianisation of Asia", arguing that the world begun gravitating towards deepening trade and financial relations with countries like India and China since Asia now represents 40 per cent of the global gross domestic product.

This "Asianisation" and what Khanna referred to as the "great story of the 21st century" must encourage Dubai to embrace its role as the anchor of the Middle East. "To be in Dubai, in the UAE, located in this region in the 21st century is to be equally connected to all parts of the world. With our mentality, we have to focus not only to the West but East," he said.

Khanna called for working "together with Asian neighbours to stabilise the most unstable parts of this region to build a future Arab path".

"This financial, diplomatic, infrastructure, institutional leadership has to come from (the UAE). The more time we spend focusing on how to embrace the inevitable Asian future, the healthier it will be for the Gulf region," he added.

He emphasised on having a "regional aggregation" through making peace with neighbors in the GCC.

The forum leverages expert opinions, reliable data and in-depth analysis to explore future challenges and opportunities in the region.

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