Dubai: How can policymakers effectively meet the needs of future generations? This was the question addressed by Ohood Al Roumi, Minister of State for Development and the Future of the UAE Government, in a keynote speech on the second day of the Dubai Future Forum.
The Dubai Future Forum is an annual event organized by the Dubai Future Foundation at the Museum of the Future. It is the largest meeting of futurists in the world, attended by foresight professionals, opinion leaders and experts from academia and various industries, as well as government.
Speaking about how governance, at its core, has a dual responsibility, which is to address the needs of today and at the same time share the path of tomorrow, he said: “Having future-oriented thinking is not new, it is rooted in global heritage. ”.
He spoke about different traditions around the world that had a history of prioritizing the needs of future generations in their everyday practices and highlighted how this was also a practice in the Arab world.
“I would like to share an example from our region: centuries ago, Arab tribes not only survived in the desert, but planned decades in advance. Before we had environmentally protected areas, where the use of water or the felling of trees was prohibited. We did it to protect resources and ensure sustainability, leaving a legacy for future generations,” he said.
Regarding the UAE specifically, Ohood Al Roumi said that a future-oriented approach was always part of governance.
“Our founding fathers always had the interest of future generations in their minds and hearts. Back then, we were the future generation and now we enjoy prosperity thanks to what they planted back then,” he said.
Lessons from history
He also shared stories of the founding fathers of the UAE, who he said were close to his heart. The first was about how the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founding father of the UAE, focused on the environment and turned the desert into a green oasis.
“Our founding father, Sheikh Zayed, had a visionary approach to the environment. Shortly after the formation of the United Arab Emirates, he embarked on an ambitious journey to “green the desert.” His objective was not only to preserve the resources we have but to expand them. Many international experts thought this journey was impossible, but he embarked on it because he understood the importance of green spaces for the environment and for the future generation. Thanks to him, we now have more than 150 million trees in the UAE. This is in line with our approach to addressing climate change,” Al Roumi said.
He also shared a story of the visionary approach of the late Shaikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, former ruler of Dubai, who built the Rashid Port in 1972.
“In 1976, just four years later, he decided he wanted to build another port in Dubai, the Jebel Ali port. Many businessmen opposed it because they saw no reason to build another port 40 kilometers from the city center, but he was determined. He said he was not building it for today but for the future. Half a century later, Jebel Ali Port stands as the 11th busiest port in the world and DP World manages more than 90 ports around the world, creating economic prosperity for the future generation,” he stated.
Forging the future
This visionary thinking remains part of the UAE’s leadership, Al Roumi said.
“We still have exemplary leadership that always looks forward. We enjoy a very good level of prosperity right now, we are leading in 180 global indicators, but let me borrow the words of the President, His Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who said that we want the next generations to be even more prosperous than the current ones. one. And let me share with you the words of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, which are engraved in this museum: “We do not wait for the future, we create it” . ‘,” she said.
He talked about all the ways in which future foresight is part of the UAE’s current governance. From the UAE Centenary Plan 2071, which envisions the UAE becoming the best country in the world by 2071, to the focus on the UAE’s human capital (its population is very young, with more than 40 percent under 30 years). according to the Minister.
“They represent our present and our future. It is very important that we put this future on the table, which is why empowering young people is fundamental to our agenda. We have a dedicated youth minister, we have a national youth strategy, numerous youth councils and strong youth representation in governance. “It is very important to not only listen to them, but give them the opportunity to shape and influence the decisions that will shape their future,” he stated.
Al Roumi also highlighted how the UAE was focusing on education, preparing today’s youth for jobs of the future, which do not yet exist. The United Arab Emirates has an ambitious space program, a newly created National Space Academy, a minister dedicated to Artificial Intelligence (Omar Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for the Digital Economy, Artificial Intelligence and Remote Work Applications) and even a university focused on AI: Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence.
He emphasized the importance of all these governance tools in shaping today’s youth for the future.