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Mohammad bin Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs and Chairman of the World Governments Summit (WGS) Organisation, affirmed that the mandate of the World Governments Summit, which stems from the vision of President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, is to focus on opportunities and on the vast space for progress and development.
He noted that governments always need an annual pause to arrange priorities and look more logically at the world around them, stressing that our focus and awareness determine the direction of our efforts and, ultimately, how we create our future. “We are not overly optimistic or delusional. Rather, we have our feet on solid ground. We are well aware of our surroundings and keen to address all challenges,” he said.
Al Gergawi’s speech came at the opening of the 11th World Governments Summit, running in Dubai between 12th and 14th February under the theme ‘Shaping Future Governments’.
Call for Optimistic Outlook
Al Gergawi called on attendants of the World Governments Summit to extend their outlook beyond the difficult reality the world is living today and to keep their eyes on the best and most prosperous future that we can secure for future generations, because our choices are what create our destiny.
He said, “Today, the World Governments Summit brings together 85 international organisations, 140 governments, more than 25 heads of state, 700 heads of major international companies, and more than 4,000 experts and officials. Despite all the events that surround us, we can play an important role in changing the world’s view of many issues and challenges. We can focus on what unites us rather than what divides us apart."
“We can play a role in creating hope and developing optimistic societies. We can encourage commercial and cultural communication between countries to replace economic division and polarisation. We can work together to reduce the risks of technology and maximise its benefits. We can encourage peace against war, tolerance against hatred and sectarianism. There is much that we can achieve through this major annual gathering,” he added.
The Future of the World in 4 Figures
Al Gergawi shared with the audience 4 figures that represent global trends in economics, politics, media, and society among other sectors. “These figures are global development indicators. They might pose challenges to the future of the world, but their impact on our future depends on the decisions we make today as governments, organisations, businesses, thought leaders and even individuals,” he said, posing the question of how to turn these challenges into opportunities.
The first figure mentioned by Al Gergawi is US$17 trillion; the cost of disputes, conflicts and violence around the world in just one year, an average of US$6 per person per day – an amount that was not invested in construction, education and health, but in wars, sabotage and destruction.
“What unites us as humanity is much more than what divides us. What we can achieve together as gains is much more than what wars achieve. The resources the planet contains are enough for us and for future generations if we invest them well and use them for the good of humanity,” he said.
On the other hand, Al Gergawi pointed out that 50 percent of global growth comes from China and India alone, as these two countries emerge to shape the future of global economic growth. With the rest of the Asia-Pacific region contributing up to 25 percent of global growth, this means that more than 70 percent of global economic growth will come from the East. Al Gergawi called for cooperation to benefit from this emerging new global economic engine instead of confronting it and trying to obstruct it.
AI Power on the Rise
The third figure featuring prominently in the future of the world relates to AI's ability to learn, which Al Gergawi said has increased 1,000 times in just one year. As studies predict that artificial intelligence will take over 70 percent of tasks in various sectors, and our productivity as humans will exceed everything we imagined using this technology, Al Gergawi alerts that this technology is a double-edged sword, as “media misinformation” and the spread of misleading and false information will be one of the biggest challenges facing humanity.
The Decline of Globalisation
Al Gergawi touched upon the clear transformations in international trade heralding the decline of globalisation and its long list of costs and risks. The International Monetary Fund estimates these costs to reach 7 percent of the world's gross domestic product, including high inflation rates, labour shortages, and the return of protectionist restrictions, as well as the disruption of global supply chains and the fracture of the global financial system.
“Today, we are witnessing an opposite wave seeking protectionism and self-sufficiency, thus exacerbating the severity of economic fragmentation. During the year 2022 alone, about 3,000 measures were imposed to restrict trade around the world. That is nearly three times the number that was imposed in the year 2019. We are witnessing more intense competition in the areas of technology and innovation and currencies, and an increasing internal focus in light of the rise of populism,” he said.
He stressed the need for us to view globalisation not as a threat to national interests and local economies, but as a major driver of development, a creator of economic value and a source of commercial opportunities and human and cultural communication.
In conclusion, Al Gergawi expressed his hopes that the World Governments Summit will succeed in creating new priorities and choices and refocusing the world’s attention on great opportunities for the benefit of all.
The World Governments Summit hosted sessions, roundtable meetings and forums addressing a host of informative topics and vital sectors, including climate action, aviation, banking, remote work applications, data and AI among others, highlighting challenges and opportunities and sparking rich conversations between speakers and participants, who included presidents and top executives of renowned companies.
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