Seeing the future and taking risks is in the country’s DNA, says CEO of Dubai Future Foundation
“Can you imagine Dubai today without the Metro? It started out as an innovative vision that people were skeptical about.”
Speaking at the opening of the innovation talks, Abdullah Mohammad Al Basti, secretary-general of the Dubai Executive Council, said “innovation” should not be talked about as a value. He said the city’s transformation from the 50s was an innovative initiative pioneered by the late Sheikh Rashid.
“The work of widening the creek, building Dubai Airport in the 60s and building Jebal Ali were all part of this innovation. He wanted the city to be the center, and what he built was considered innovative at the time, even by people in the area. considered illogical,” he said, adding that His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has continued this vision and adopted this value.
“We see a lot of projects that a lot of people don’t understand at the beginning. For example, the metro, people talk about whether we need it. Today, it transports more than 600,000 passengers a day. Can you imagine Dubai today without the metro?” he asked .
Innovation, he said, is a value that everyone in all organizations should adopt, and it can be motivated by either: finding a solution to a problem or a desire to stand out and improve. In either case, thinking without boundaries is key, Abdullah said. “If you set boundaries, you’ll find it difficult to achieve what you want,” he added.
Khalfan Belhoul, chief executive of the Dubai Future Foundation, said seeing the future and taking risks is in the DNA of the country. “Taking risks means being ambitious and hopeful. We may make mistakes, but those mistakes should be a learning point,” he said.
The goal of the foundation, he said, is to understand the near and far future and to bring imagined futures to life, both physically and legislatively. Khalfan identifies 10 megatrends for the future: material revolution, devaluation of raw data, technological vulnerabilities, energy boundaries, conservation ecosystems, a fluid economy for a world without borders, digital reality, life with autonomous robots, future humans, and advanced health and nutrition .
He told Khaleej Times at the event that UAE Innovates plays a key role in bringing together all discussions to create a better future for all. “The biggest challenge today is that the world is extremely fragmented. We learned this during the Covid pandemic. We saw big countries face challenges with quarantine regulations or vaccinations. In the UAE, we set an example,” he said.
He said an important lesson had been learned from the pandemic – the importance of solidarity in the coming years. “I’m not only talking about it from a health perspective, but also from the perspective of the digital economy, data protection laws and cross-border transactions,” he said.
Speaking about how the Dubai Future Foundation operates, Khalfan said they always try to stay one step ahead by working in previously known “uncharted” territory. “We’re always researching and learning about what’s going on in the world,” he said.
Agility is also key, he explained. “As a country, the more agile you are, the more important role you will play. The government needs to be nimble about the regulations, change them, and always keep safety as the key factor,” he said, saying that one of the biggest risks facing humanity right now is psychological Deterioration of mental and social skills and the physical effects of digital dependence such as rising obesity rates.
Innovation Talks is a three-day event that is part of the nationwide UAE Innovates 2023 held throughout February.