Hussain Sajwani, founder and Chairman of DAMAC Properties
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change” – Darwin.
As our world beholds seismic shifts at a phenomenal rate, this saying has never been more relevant than it is today. With change comes a multitude of challenges and opportunities and it is up to us, policy makers to business leaders, to collectively steer our world into a future that is bright for everyone.
Fortunately, we have all the tools at our disposal to do just that. Extraordinary innovation in science and technological have made our world more efficient and inter-connected than it has ever been. Sections of societies that were once excluded, now have access to information and tools that allows them entry to the global systems and enables them to be a contributing member in the creation of a new world order.
Yes, there are new risks such as economic and social disparity, food and natural resource security, geostrategic friction, sustainability and climate change that stand as challenges for our greater vision of peace and prosperity for all. However, ongoing social and economic transformations, led primarily by wider development and access to emerging technology, can help us overcome these challenges together, as one community.
And where else would it be better to lead this change than from here? The Middle East has for centuries been at the core of global geopolitics – and that is not by chance. Its natural and human resources coupled with its geographical location at the centre of the universe have turned the region into a focal point for the world. Looking at our region now, with a population of more than 400 million, 40% of whom are under 25, with more than 65% of OPEC oil reserves, more than 40% of the world’s gas reserves and the world’s number one airport for international passenger traffic, the word ‘opportunity’ has never been bolder.
The importance of this region is rising way beyond what was traditionally expected, and it is how we empower the 100 million Middle Easterners aged between 15 and 29 that will shape the future of the region and its contribution to global prosperity. Dubai has acknowledged the opportunity years ago and is leading the region’s evolution through rapid adoption of technology, unlimited support to innovation and widespread preparatory programmes such as the One Million Arab Coders, of which we are proud supporters.
While we witness the progress of the fourth industrial revolution, we stand at a crossroads between dominance and inclusion. It is time for citizens, businesses, governments and NGOs to leverage a better connected world, to collaborate for the greater good and to collectively seek solutions for pressing world issues. Now is the time to drive a human-centric approach for development, one that goes beyond human-made boundaries. Now is the time to recognize that we are hardworking and opportunistic, ready to embrace impactful change.
Last week, the world conjugated in Dubai to set the agenda for 2019’s World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, and as a region our message was clear – the Middle East has all it needs to adopt measures necessary for global unity, equality and prosperity and there is no better time than now for impactful, positive change.