Last week, the great and the good gathered in Dubai for the World Government Summit.
The high profile speakers included Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi and the IMF's Chrstine Largarde.
The high profile event in Dubai contrasted completely with the World Economic Forum in Davos, held weeks earlier.
In Dubai, we heard how Dubai’s government-owned power utility, Dewa, will spend AED81bn to generate 25 percent of the city’s energy through renewables within 12 years, rising threefold to 75 percent by 2050.
In doing so, it will help the UAE, the world’s seventh biggest energy producer, reduce fossil fuel dependence, state expenditure and per capita electricity usage (Abu Dhabi’s ADWEA is already building the world’s largest solar power plant).
At the other end of the summit, a 27-year-old UAE Minister of State for AI (artificial intelligence), the only such role in existence, pitched to the world’s biggest tech firms how they can bring efficiency and automation to the country’s manufacturing ambitions, while also helping a new generation develop employable skills.
That latter goal is being helped by the One Million Arab Coders programme in collaboration with Facebook, Udacity and the Dubai Future Foundation. Meanwhile, a $500m endowment to educate Arab youth at institutions around the world was also announced at the summit.
If the world was an IT company, WEF would be the watercooler where time is spent talking about “stuff”. WGS would be the room where the developers got working.
This contrast is perhaps no more evident than in how both events tackled cryptocurrencies. At Davos, global leaders continued to debate – and were unable to conclude – whether Bitcoin is a bubble.
In Dubai, UAE Exchange’s 41-year-old CEO, Promoth Manghat, told us he’s betting on the blockchain behind Ripple to trial instant financial messaging services with 100 international banks, because “10 years from now payment systems aren’t going to look anything like they do today.”
In his opening address to the summit, India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, called Dubai, and by extension the UAE, “a miracle” and he’s right: the country is only 46 years old.
The plot of land shaped like a palm tree upon which luxury apartments now stand that we can see from our offices? 15 years ago, that district was under water.
The only reason it isn’t now is because there wasn’t much time spent between imagining an artificial island and contracting a developer to draw up the blueprints.
Davos and Dubai are certainly two vastly different cities, as are the events they hold each year.
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(Source: Arabianbusiness.com YouTube channel)