At the inaugural Fast Company Middle East’s World Changing Ideas Summit on Wednesday, His Excellency Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, Minister in Charge of Talent Attraction and Retention, set the tone for the day, which saw dozens of innovators and expert speakers discussing the world’s most pressing challenges and opportunities.
“I am delighted to be able to talk at the World Changing Ideas Summit. I wish I could join you today. I know this forum will generate important discussions on the trends and technologies that are shaping the world,” he said in a recorded speech at the summit, which was held at the Address Sky View, Dubai and attended by over 200 business leaders, ministry officials, entrepreneurs, and technology experts.
To navigate the global economy, which is facing a series of interlocking challenges – energy shortages, geopolitical tensions, inflation, and continued supply-chain pressures, Dr. Thani said it requires “innovative thinking and international collaboration”.
“How we can use this moment to fast-track a new generation of trade tools and processes to improve global supply chains. There’s no mistaking the strength of the rebound in global trade from the depths of the pandemic,” he added.
“But there should be no sense of complacency,” he warned. “Challenges remain.”
As businesses and governments worldwide are forging to embrace the digital future, bilateral pacts are taking precedence over global deals in the recent past, opening up a new world of possibilities.
Since September 2021, he said the UAE has been reaching out to key partners to secure new, multi-level trade and investment deals – Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreements.
“We have completed deals with India, Indonesia, and Israel and are set to conclude several more in the coming months. They accelerate trade flows, catalyze inclusive, sustainable growth, and add trust and transparency into the global trading system.”
Stressing Trade 2.0 facilitates trade and investments in a digital economy and how embracing the digital future can infuse the next growth phase in economies; he said, “We also believe technology can vastly improve supply-chain efficiencies. This is the time to unleash Trade 2.0 – where we deploy the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to improve every link on the chain.”
From remote monitoring and autonomous operation improving navigation in maritime trade, data analysis, and AI improving scheduling and inventory management in port operations to electronic bills of lading and blockchain-based know-your-customer procedures improving dockside processes in customs, Dr. Thani said many of these tools are already being deployed in the UAE.
Jebel Ali Port uses a fully automated, solar-powered container stacking system, and Khalifa Port in Abu Dhabi deploys autonomous electric trucks to load and unload operations, while AI is used to track containers.
“In terms of world-changing ideas, a newly efficient, more deeply integrated, sustainable, and truly inclusive international trade ecosystem is not only conceivable but within our grasp. I look forward to seeing its implementation before the next summit,” he said.
The event’s presenting partner is Tonomus, a subsidiary of NEOM, which is building a future fueled by the power of cognitive technology. And Aspire, the technology programme management pillar of the Advanced Technology Research Council is the associate partner.
The summit was attended by over 200 global and regional leaders, including Aamer Sheikh, CEO at PepsiCo Middle East Business Unit, Brandon Rowberry, CEO – Digital Health, Aster DM Healthcare, Justin Peyton, Chief Transformation Officer, Wunderman Thompson, K D Adamson, Futurist and Ecocentrist, Nicholas McQuire, Director of Product Management, Strategic Missions and Technologies, Microsoft, Dr. Patrick Noack, Executive Director – Future Foresight & Imagination, Dubai Future Foundation, Christine Gould, Founder and CEO, Thought for Food, and Professor Mark Tester, Co-Founder & Chief Scientist, Red Sea Farms, among many others.
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