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Dubai Future Forum sets course for a promising future

The forum discussed space travel, climate change, digital inclusion and ethical AI

Dubai Future Forum sets course for a promising future
[Source photo: Anvita Gupta/Fast Company Middle East]

The UAE has built an innovation-driven economy by embracing smart technologies to drive transformation across sectors. The country is now designing the future through the Dubai Future Forum (DFF), cementing its position as a rising global hub for future leadership and action by cultivating ideas, visions, and policies.

Held at the Museum of the Future earlier this week, the two-day forum brought together over 400 specialists, scientists, and inventors who discussed tomorrow’s most pressing issues, including space travel, climate change, digital inclusion, ethical artificial intelligence, and preparing for the future. 

Here’s a round-up of the event. 


Foresight has never been more critical than it is now. “Governments, businesses, and societies are too preoccupied with the present to implement actionable foresight that leads to strategies in mitigating risks and enabling growth,” said Professor Amy Webb, founder and CEO of Future Today Institute, at the inauguration of the Dubai Future Forum.

“If foresight worked, we wouldn’t be facing a climate catastrophe. There would be climate action, not just climate scenarios,” she said.

“Dubai is a rare exception where foresight is a key part of government decision-making. If there was more foresight at a government level globally, governments would be more comfortable with uncertainty, they would think the unthinkable, and they would create a strategy for mitigation and growth,” Webb added. 


Defining pathways for future collaboration, joint research, and knowledge-sharing opportunities, Dubai Future Foundation (DFF) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with World Futures Studies Federation (WFSF) and Public Sector Foresight Network (PSFN). 

The signing came after the announcement that the DFF, Association of Professional Futurists, and The Millennium Project would co-found the Global Future Society, which would have its headquarters at the Museum of the Future. 

Discussions were held on topics such as paper transactions, plastic bags, digital services, gender equality, inflation, economic slowdowns, climate action, mental health, social unrest, and digital education in the age of virtual reality, in addition to issues that are likely to have an immediate impact.


As the world changes at breakneck speed, staying ahead of the competition in the future has become more complex than ever. A session titled Will the Space Industry Shape the Coming Century zeroed in on the potential for humankind to become an interplanetary species.

Mark Bear, Minister of Justice, Asgardia, said the world could be ready to test life on the moon in 15 years and for life on Mars in another decade. But, to achieve this, there must be a perfect union between the public and private sectors.

“Governments, corporates, and citizens face an uphill battle to stay ahead in a fast-changing world that will see space and digital technology converge. Dubai has demonstrated its ability to foresee the future, embrace rapid change, and strengthen its knowledge-driven economy,” said Toshi Hoo, director of the Emerging Media Lab at the Institute for the Future. 


It is more important to focus on the quality of life and not on how long we live amid rapid scientific advances that have improved human longevity and could one day create Earth’s first generation of immortals.

People will continue to choose to live in the UAE due to the world-class healthcare system and the quality of life it offers. The country is committed to extending the best of research and the latest scientific knowledge in the healthcare sector to preserve the community’s health, said Dr Hanan Al Suwaidi, the chief business officer of Dubai Academic Health Corporation.

“In the UAE, we are privileged to work with other industries such as our space program to support aging on Earth. We have conducted research with the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center on bone density loss and insulin resistance in space to understand mobility on analog missions and in the International Space Stations,” said Dr Al Suwaidi, who was the flight surgeon tasked with monitoring the health of Hazza Al Mansouri, UAE’s first astronaut to the ISS in 2019.

The experts also pointed out the critical need for quick and effective solutions to bridge the digital divide. The cost of maintaining human information is likely to decline significantly, the focus of wealth in the future will be knowledge, while the future of digital money and mediums of exchange will be disrupted heavily.

Experts also heard of a world where hydrogen will be extracted from seawater to create a new era of renewable energy, how progress in artificial intelligence will be measured in seconds, and that the total value of investments in the space industry could reach $20 trillion by 2040.

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