Dubai: Dubai is a city that builds its future with advanced technology and resilience, but it cares about and protects its people above all else, a UAE minister said on Thursday at the 15th Emirates LitFest in 2023.
Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation, made the remarks during a ‘Cities of the Future’ session with Hala Badri, Director of Dubai Arts and Culture Authority, moderated by Emirati author Eman Al Yousuf.
The session attracted a large audience, including Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Culture and member of Dubai Council.
Al Hashimy, who was instrumental in Dubai’s winning bid to host Expo 2020 and was the driving force behind the global exhibition’s huge success during the pandemic, recalled Vice President and Vice President Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid A call from His Highness Al Maktoum, Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Dubai, changed her life.
Shortly after she returned home from the 2010 Shanghai World Expo in China, Sheikh Mohammed called her to ask what she knew about the expo, she said. “Then he told me to look into the possibility of hosting an expo in Dubai. That call changed my life,” said Al Hashimy, who later became director general of Expo 2020 Dubai and CEO of the Dubai Expo Authority.
She attributes her success in hosting Expo 2020 Dubai to the trust placed in her by Sheikh Mohammed, and the support of his outstanding team.
Talking about building cities for the future, Al Hashimy said that she does not believe cities can thrive if they are not put at the center of people and follow policies that put people at the center.
“The most important thing is to focus on the people… This is what the UAE has seen under wise leadership. This is what we have seen firsthand at the federal government and official level. It is important for our planning, strategy and work.”
It is people who build cities, and people must abide by the requirements of the city. “That’s what we saw in Dubai.
Dubai is a dynamic city where people adapt to the demands and needs of the city. They live their dreams, take on challenges, gain confidence and keep going. “
Al Hashimy said supporting talent was considered a state responsibility.
“We need to build people, keep them, let them grow. A city doesn’t build itself. It’s the people who build it. We, the people, contribute to building it and preserving it. We can’t build without focusing on people.” A city… if we rely only on technology, we become soulless.”
Expo City – City of the Future
After Expo 2020 Dubai, Al Hashimy noted that the focus shifted from the event to building the city.
She said that Dubai Expo City is a city of the future that embraces everything.
Unlike central business districts, where people go to work during the day and leave at night, Al Hashimy said Dubai Expo City opens its doors to residents to own their homes and live in a sustainable ecosystem that respects all that is created. “That’s why when you go to Expo City, you see birds, plants and cats.”
She said Emiratis have always maintained the values of humility and are keen to engage in dialogue and promote diversity for growth.
The quest for sustainable development and clean energy began several years ago, and the establishment of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) headquarters in the UAE is a landmark achievement. “Towards the end of the year, we will host another landmark event, COP 28. All of this is seeded in our hearts. We planted it when we started our development journey.”
“We can build cities that listen to people’s views, and people who listen to what the city asks. For example, during COVID, we had a phenomenal experience in the UAE. Despite being from different countries, we are all committed to health standards and requirements to Protect Dubai. If you see trash, you go here to clean it up because you feel like you belong, you are at home. You don’t accept trash at your place. This relationship between the city and its people is made by us Created by leaders. Many countries are now looking at how Dubai got to this level in such a short period of time,” she added.
Dubai’s cultural pursuits
Meanwhile, Hala Al Badri, Dubai’s Director-General of Culture, explained how Dubai is embracing its cultural civilization and how it is moving forward as a major center for the cultural and creative economy.
She quoted Sheikh Mohammed as saying that culture is evidence of civilization and that our lives are incomplete without economic sufficiency, cultural depth and social cohesion, as he congratulated the opening of LitFest in the UAE on Wednesday.
Al Badri gives an example of how Sheikh Mohammed embraced and supported the idea of a small creative complex in the desert in 1998, which would later serve as an incubator and become Dubai’s first step towards international art exposure . “Today, it’s known as Al Quoz’s Courtyard. It’s now the home of creativity.”
She further highlighted how the leaders sowed the seeds to create Dubai’s cultural platform, saying that in 1963, Dubai established a library at a prominent location in its heritage area. “Decades later, we have Dubai Media City, Dubai Internet City and Dubai Production City.”
Since being named the MENA region’s first UNESCO Creative Capital of Design in 2017, Dubai has launched a number of ambitious initiatives in the creative sector. In 2021, a committee was formed under the leadership of Sheikha Latifa to make Dubai the global capital of the creative economy by 2025.
The Dubai Creative Economy Strategy aims to increase the number of creative and cultural companies and businesses to 15,000, providing 140,000 jobs in various sectors of the creative economy. It also seeks to increase the economic contribution of the creative economy to 5 percent of the emirate’s GDP by 2026.
activate all enablers
During COVID, when everything came to a standstill, Al Badri said the creative industries are bouncing back after Dubai struggled to rise to the challenge and capitalize on the opportunities for creative talent here. All possible infrastructures are enablers, used as platforms to help creative industries flourish.
Al Badri said that all virtual media platforms have also been fully utilized to support the creative industries. “For example, we had 11,000 students visit the Etihad Museum virtually. It was important to have diversity and communicate effectively with the various departments and utilize the infrastructure we had.”
She noted that attracting talent is one of the most important and difficult aspects for many countries, and that the UAE is at the forefront among countries that issue long-stay visas to domestic and foreign talent.
“We’re also supporting creatives to become entrepreneurs. We’ve reduced the number of steps they take to start a company from nine to two.”