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Dubai is emerging as a key hub in a new world being shaped by disruptive trends, says geo-economic expert
Afshin Molavi discusses the top five ‘disruption-proof’ trends driving the world’s future at a session organised by the Dubai Press Club
Gathering forms part of a series of knowledge sessions hosted by DPC throughout the year
Dubai is emerging as a key hub in a new world being shaped by disruptive global trends, a distinguished expert on geo-political and geo-economic issues said at a knowledge session organised by the Dubai Press Club (DPC) for media professionals on Wednesday.
Rapid urbanisation, the growing middle class and unprecedented connectivity are some of the biggest trends that are redefining the future, Afshin Molavi, Senior Fellow at the Johns Hopkins University Foreign Policy Institute and former Dubai-based journalist, said.
During the event held at DPC, attended by several media leaders and professionals, Molavi provided a comprehensive examination of these trends, underscoring their significance for journalists seeking to grasp the evolving dynamics of our world.
The gathering forms part of a series of knowledge sessions hosted by DPC throughout the year in line with its commitment to promoting knowledge exchange and sharing ideas and insights on vital issues impacting the industry.
The discussion centered on the often overshadowed yet pivotal trends that are quietly shaping the global landscape. These trends encompass a wide range of factors, such as demographics, urbanisation rates, the burgeoning middle class, and more, he said, collectively wielding a profound influence on our future. He emphasised that these trends bear both immediate and long-term consequences that can significantly impact news and world events.
Molavi discussed how the Middle East will continue to retain its profound significance in today’s world, anchored by its strategic location and its rising status as a hub of global trade and investment. The Middle East is an important area, he said, and it “will continue to be for decades to come, and part of it is because it is at the centre of everything - trade flows, investment flows, people flows. It’s in the middle of the world, a major logistics and trade hub, and it will matter for those reasons. We are seeing the younger generation showing resilience, dynamism, and entrepreneurial spirit,” he said.
The session also delved into the relationship between West Asia, which includes the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and East Asia. Molavi emphasised the dynamic interdependence that has been steadily evolving between these two regions.
Highlighting vital global demographic shifts, he said that a staggering 85% of the global population resides outside the Western world. While global poverty rates have plummeted from 37% in 1990 to a mere 9% today, Molavi cautioned that the COVID-19 pandemic has, in some instances, reversed these gains. He also underscored the astonishing pace of urbanisation, with 1.5 million people migrating to cities each week. Currently, more than half of the world's population resides in urban areas, and projections indicate that by 2050, this figure will surge to 68%, underscoring the vital role of cities as economic powerhouses.
He also delved into the far-reaching ramifications of the rise of the global middle class, set to reach 5.3 billion by 2030. Molavi also spoke about the rapid adoption of smartphones. From zero smartphones in 2007, the world is expected to reach 6 billion smartphone users by 2025, marking an unprecedented pace of technological adoption.
“Change is inevitable, and disruption is around the corner. If anyone knows that change is inevitable, it is the people who live in Dubai,” Molavi remarked.
Discussing the state of globalisation, he said that despite some notions suggesting its decline, the world is more interconnected than ever before.
Molavi also brought attention to India's remarkable demographic and economic trajectory. India is poised to surpass China as the world's most populous nation in 2023, a demographic shift with profound global implications. He also highlighted India's robust economic growth, with an average forecasted real GDP growth rate of around 6% over the next five years. This rapid economic expansion underscores India's growing significance, not only on the global stage but also as a key player in the economic dynamics of the UAE and Dubai, he noted.
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