Knowledge Summit: Experiences of the World Shine in Dubai

In an age when knowledge has become the compass of the world that directs its energies towards plans for progress and prosperity, the Knowledge Summit was a differential milestone between conferences that set their agenda on the advancement of societies for the better.

Perhaps the constructive results and recommendations that the Knowledge Summit came out with in each of its sessions held over a period of six years confirm the universality that Dubai sought under the leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

From this standpoint, the strategic partnership was established between the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation (MBRF) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), confirming the centrality of the Foundation’s role in achieving Dubai’s strategy towards reaching first positions in the world.

The Knowledge Summit is an annual event, the first of its kind in the region, and one of the most important and prominent international gatherings concerned with exchanging experiences and transferring knowledge. The summit has become a reference point for specialists and decision-makers when drawing future policies. In a short time, the Summit became an ideal global platform to discuss ways to instill a culture of building sustainable societies and economies.

The Summit aims to shed light on the importance of the role of knowledge and to promote programs and ideas that help spread awareness of knowledge in all parts of the world, as it brings together influential global and regional knowledge bodies and thought leaders on a single platform to launch initiatives and projects related to transforming our Arab societies into a knowledge society.

Empowering future generations

The first edition of Knowledge Summit was launched in 2014, under the theme; Empowering Future Generations, and for three days, participants discussed the knowledge, educational and rehabilitative issues that the countries of the Arab region were facing, and identified the reasons that motivate young people to embrace science and produce localized knowledge. This gathering was the first of its kind in the region concerned with matters of disseminating and transferring knowledge, and methods of building a society and economy that take knowledge as an approach towards sustainable development and the prosperity of peoples.

Ban Ki-moon: The United
Nations appreciates Sheikh
Mohammed bin Rashid’s efforts
in supporting sustainable
development, knowledge and

Given the Summit’s significance, it has, since its inception, attracted some of the acclaimed speakers, thinkers and other accomplished people in the world. Among the most prominent speakers in its first edition was Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, who highlighted his global experience in establishing the largest encyclopedia known to mankind, focusing on the Arab Wikipedia. Wales indicated that one of the most exciting things was that Wikipedia had around 341,000 articles in Arabic, making it the largest encyclopedia in the history of the Arabic language. He also said that it is the twelfth in the ranking of the largest number of active editors, and fifth in the best ranking between languages and branching in terms of depth and content.

The internet was a major focus of the Knowledge Summit in its first edition. While people are dominated by the belief that the internet is a means of communication and knowledge, important parts of which may be overlooked by many are absent from the knowledge giant who invaded every home. Since no one is able to talk about this kind of knowledge more than its creator, the Summit hosted in its first edition Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, who talked about his invention and its impact on preserving cultures.

He e xplained t hat one o f t he most important achievements of the internet is the preservation of languages that were threatened with extinction due to their isolation among their people, and the internet contributed to spreading them among nations, as well as the Greek language that the Internet woke it up from its long slumber. This is true for many other languages in which the Internet has given a new life.

The way to innovation

Within the framework of the UAE’s celebration of innovation in 2015, the Knowledge Summit held its second edition under the slogan: “The Way to Innovation”, focusing on innovation in education and information technology, and employing innovation in the field of media and filmmaking. During its sessions, the summit discussed its most important developments, challenges and ways of rehabilitating Arab societies to be able to spread creativity and innovation.

Since we are talking about education, Gordon Brown, the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education and former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, was the most prominent speaker about this basic element of sustainable development, being one of the most leading advocates of education for all in the world. He is the author of the book “All the Talents of All the People: Education: Global Priority No. 1” which was published under patronage of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation.

Brown explained in his session that the success of any economy in the world has become dependent on innovation, and innovation is in turn linked to the success of the education system and investment in it. Without education, societies will not be able to explore the capabilities, energies and talents of children and work to employ them in the right way in the future.

As for His Excellency Eng. Hussain Al Hammadi, UAE Minister of Education, his presentation was titled: “Innovation in Education: A Future Vision” in which he explained that innovation in education is embodied in developing new solutions and presenting them to respond to existing problems, or to new educational needs that suit the demands of the labor market. He said that the UAE is distinguished by the presence of leaders who have an insight into tomorrow. UAE has a clear vision to improve education and its outputs.

Innovation and information technology were the focus of a panel discussion in which Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, participated. He explained that the innovator is always thinking and has a tendency to constantly think that he is able to do things better than they seemed to be. This kind of person is in a state of continuous creativity. This is what develops the skills and mental abilities.

Knowledge.. present and future

The slogan of the third edition of the Knowledge Summit which was held on December 5 to 7, 2016, was, “Knowledge… Present and Future.” It was focused on reading reality and opportunities for enabling the youths to possess knowledge tools and at the same time make predictions for the future and prepare for it by fortifying the Arab thought and mind.

The Summit witnessed the launch of the Arab Reading Index and the updated 2016 version of the Arab Knowledge Index both of which are issued by the Arab Knowledge Project in partnership between MBRF and the UNDP. The Arab Reading Index studies reading practices across the region and their role in empowering individuals, improving skills and abilities, and supporting innovation and creativity.

Tony Abbott: Dubai is one of
the miracles of the modern

Ban Ki-moon, the former Secretary-General of the United Nations, gave a televised speech in which he appreciated the efforts of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in support of sustainable development, knowledge and education. He also indicated that knowledge is an essential step to prepare for the future, especially for young people who want to obtain better future opportunities and find suitable job opportunities to employ their capabilities in supporting knowledge.

ony A bbott, t he f ormer A ustralian P rime Minister, admired the developments in Dubai,describing it as one of the miracles of the modern world. He also indicated that the UAE is considered a successful country by all standards given that its government plays a pioneering role in empowering and supporting community members. The development in UAE became an example to be emulated in the region for coexistence and harmony between all races and nationalities.

On knowledge and future cities, His Excellency Saeed Al Tayer, Managing Director and CEO of the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, spoke about the key elements of the development of smart cities which is cooperation between the government and the private sector to achieve the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to make Dubai a smart and sustainable city which provides all its services in a connected and technical manner, and relies on technological innovation to enhance a happy life experience for community members.

Knowledge and the Fourth Industrial Revolution

The fourth edition of the summit was under the theme; “The Fourth Industrial Revolution,” offering a detailed discussion of the concept and importance of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the history of industrial revolutions and their role in changing humanity for the better. The summit also discussed prospects for supporting the development of knowledge societies, by shedding light on all industrial revolutions and reviewing the details of the fourth industrial revolution also known as the “digital revolution” that began at the beginning of the current century.

Youth and the Future of the Knowledge Economy

Under the slogan “Youth and the Future of the Knowledge Economy”, the 2018 Summit sought to keep pace with the UAE vision 2021, to build a competitive economy based on investment in knowledge, and supportive of concepts of innovation and creativity, and to employ advanced technology in promoting human well-being and prosperity, to establish a distinguished generation of entrepreneurs within a motivating environment. It also focused on the role of youth in creating the future for the Arab region and the world.

In his televised address to the audience, Achim Steiner, Administrator of the UNDP, explained that rapid progress in key technologies is what is driving the fourth industrial revolution today, transforming our economies and societies, and seizing the opportunities presented by this transformation is crucial.

Her Highness Princess Sumaya bint El Hassan, President of the Royal Scientific Society, spoke about the role of governments in empowering youth and the knowledge economy, through investment in people and science. This knowledge-based investment achieves very high returns. She explained that knowledge is a matter that transcends state borders, and that we in the Arab world have become professionals in achieving cooperation between the various parties.

Sir Magdi Yaqoub, a recipient of the British Order of Merit and a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in London, also co-founder of the Magdi Yacoub Global Heart Foundation, which was a winner of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Award 2018, spoke in a panel discussion where he said that the foundation is making unremitting efforts in order to facilitate the training of researchers and scientists from Egypt, the region and the world at large. One of the most important tasks of the Foundation is also treating heart diseases and providing assistance to the poor and destitute patients.

Knowledge: the Path to Sustainable Development

The sixth edition of the Summit highlighted the role of knowledge in achieving sustainable development goals and facing global challenges, such as poverty, hunger and inequality, as well as climate change and the promotion of innovation and sustainable consumption, by providing appropriate solutions to protect the planet and ensuring that all people enjoy prosperity, peace and justice by 2030.

His Excellency Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, former President of Iceland, and president of the Arctic Circle Network, spoke at the Summit and warned that the heating and cooling of cities in the 21st century - where two-thirds of the world’s population is estimated to be living, presents a major challenge for the coming decade especially in the fields of energy, economy and the environment. He said: “If we do not succeed in presenting a solution that does not cause pollution or emission of carbon dioxide, then there is no significance for what we do in any other field in the pursuit of preventing climate change because it will not bear fruit, we are already facing a great challenge.”

Achim Steiner: Rapid
advancement in major
technologies is what drives
the Fourth Industrial
Revolution and controls our
economies and societies.

Murad Wahba, Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Arab States, in his opening speech stated that, “The world is changing today in front of our eyes very quickly, as we are currently in the middle of the fourth industrial revolution in which new technologies have emerged that have destabilized our lives. In an unprecedented way, we live in a global era that is measured by rapid progress, new technologies, and global communications. However, this revolution offers us an unprecedented opportunity to direct innovation towards sustainability, while at the same time leading us towards challenges for business and societies.”

The slogans of the Knowledge Summit since its launch

2014 Empowering future generations

2015 The way To innovation

2016 Knowledge.. present and future

2017 The Fourth Industrial Revolution

2018 Youth and the future of the knowledge economy

2019 Knowledge: the path to sustainable development