|11 November, 2019

Sharjah FDI forum 2019 looks into the future of AI, sustainability and fintech

Growth of these key sectors was one of the highlights of the forum's first day

During the second panel session at the Sharjah FDI Forum

During the second panel session at the Sharjah FDI Forum

Sharjah: Artificial Intelligence (AI), sustainability and Fintech were three of the key sectors under the spotlight at the Sharjah FDI Forum 2019, which opened today (Monday) at the Al Jawaher Reception and Convention Centre in Sharjah.

Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, the first day of the two-day forum saw the hosting of presentations and panel discussions that examined how the sectors that are in focus today, such as AI and Fintech, would affect traditional industries and ways of doing business, and how sustainability would be the key element to drive all sectors across the board.

Impact of AI and innovative technology

The first to take the stage during the morning session was Azeem Azhar, an entrepreneur, investor, and the creator of Exponential View, with a presentation on AI and other exponential technologies that are transforming business and society. “The 20th century was built on three technologies – car (transport), telephone (communication) and electricity (power). However, these technologies developed at snail’s pace then. It took 60 years for the seatbelt to come of age after the car was invented. Today, the drivers are data and computation – they are disrupting all industries faster than ever.”

According to Azhar, AI, robotics, space technology, synthetic biology technology, renewable energy and blockchain technology are the innovative platforms of the 21st century. “AI is the binding glue of all these platforms. However, AI as it exists today is quite narrow in scope. It’s uses are very specific, such as face recognition. Only when it develops to artificial general intelligence will it become critical.”

However, he said it had begun to impact every sector. “AI start-ups have attracted $7.4 billion in funding in the second quarter of 2019. Healthcare and insurance are the sectors that will be impacted the most, with costs being driven down. Even sectors that have low AI penetration such as construction will see traction in future.”

Future of sustainability

The second panel discussion of the day, ‘Future of Sustainability (Environmental and Renewable Energy)’, saw the participation of Alia Ali Busamra, Manager, Group Sustainability, ENOC; Suzanne Eveleigh, Head of Sharjah - Savills; Dr Muawieh Radaideh, CEO, See Nexus; and Mhairi Main Garcia, Partner, Dentons. It was moderated by Timothee Neron Bancel, Regional Manager, Middle East and Africa, The Economist Group.

The panel discussed the role of the government, the public sector and the public in combatting climate change by adopting sustainable technology as well as habits. They agreed that affordable technology was the need of the hour.

Future of Fintech

The third panel of the day, ‘The Future of Fintech (Banking and Finance)’, was moderated by Ali Bachrouch, Partner, Head of Corporate Structuring - Northern Emirates, Al Tamimi and Company. Daniel Lam, Regional Director, Hong Kong Trade Development Council; Afzal Ibrahim, Vice President and Head of R&D future Lab, Emirates NBD; Padmini Gupta, co-founder and CEO, Rise; Alaeddin Elmajed, Payment Services Director, Hyper Pay; and Mohamed Roushdy, Founder of Fintech Bazar and Head of Technology, Dubai Asset Management, participated. The panel examined how the disruption of Fintech and digital currencies could be steered by investors in both government and private sectors. “We are seeing the transition to a cashless society everywhere, and it is already here in the UAE,” said Elmajed. “The e-Dirham deployed by the UAE Government or the one in Jordan is just the beginning. With digital currencies like Bitcoin, the problem is the fluctuation. We need a stable digital currency pegged to a stable traditional currency.” The panel agreed that UAE’s thrust to enable the nation’s comprehensive and dynamic Fintech ecosystem continued on a sustainable growth path, transforming and reshaping the financial innovation sector in the region. 

Sharjah FDI Forum 2019 concludes tomorrow (Tuesday) with its programme of panel discussions, presentations and side discussions focusing on foreign direct investment in the UAE in general and Sharjah specifically. The fifth edition of the annual event has attracted more than 54 corporate business leaders, public sector representatives and government officials from across the region and the world, and 1,500 participants.

The Forum is organised by the Sharjah FDI Office (Invest in Sharjah), an affiliate of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) under the theme ‘Future Trends in Foreign Direct Investment’.

-Ends-

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