The 13th edition of the Asian Business Leadership Forum, Asia’s most influential leadership platform that has historically brought the finest global leaders to the UAE, has successfully concluded its inaugural virtual conclave of the ABLF TALKS LIVE at their new cutting-edge permanent virtual venue, the ABLF City hosted on SMART IEDEA.
The ABLF City has been created to showcase the UAE, where the ABLF has been based since inception, as a progressive economic hub and to celebrate the nation’s unique narrative as a powerful agent of peace and tolerance in the region.
Future editions of the ABLF TALKS LIVE, after the dangers of the pandemic are behind us, will be designed to be seamlessly augmented with in-person events to create a hybrid experience. With the world facing challenges of costs, travel embargoes as well as strict health and safety protocols, the ABLF City offers uninterrupted connectivity for sustained business contact.
The virtual conclaves comprise interactive knowledge-sharing models, roundtables, high-level networking, workshops and unique masterclasses, featuring world-renowned policymakers, thinkers and industry leaders in engaging conversations of consequence.
“SMART IEDEA conceptualised, designed and built a permanent Virtual venue for the ABLF so that its stakeholders, audience and their ever-expanding network can continue experiencing the best of networking, knowledge exchange and meaningful interactions without an in-person interface. Over the coming months, we are going to be introducing newer features on the platform that will enhance the user experience and raise value for the ABLF Partners and Investors” - Meghna Menon, CEO, SMART IEDEA.
Under the theme ‘Innovative Strategies for a Decade of Challenges: Asia 2020-2030’, the ABLF TALKS LIVE is being held under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, Cabinet Member and Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence, UAE, who delivered the Keynote address at the inaugural ABLF TALKS LIVE.
“Fantastic advances in technology guarantee that we will stay connected, for better or worse, in the future. Our world will be increasingly digital. Our leaders will continue to face unexpected challenges. We confront a decade that could be chaotic...The 6 ABLF TALKS LIVE Virtual Conclaves will seek to identify and assess innovative economic strategies that should help Asia move forward in the face of challenges expected over the next ten years.” - H.H. Sheikh Nahayan
The ABLF in partnership with the UAE Ministry of Economy also featured an engaging session with H.E. Abdulla bin Touq Al Marri, Cabinet Member and Minister of Economy, UAE, who said, “The most important part of the UAE Leadership is that we are very open. We really listen. In the 90 days I have been in this position, I was on a fact-finding mission, spending a lot of time listening and meeting people. There should be more public-private partnerships for the revival of the economy. PPPs are the future.”
Malini N. Menon, Co-Founder and President of the ABLF, said: “Though this has been a challenging year thus far, it gives us great pride to have successfully concluded our first conclave of this six-month event. The pivot to the virtual medium has also cemented our progressive and intuitive nature of bringing together policymakers and industry leaders under a futuristic banner to reach the biggest possible audience. Today’s ABLF TALKS LIVE event witnessed the participation of multiple luminaries in their respective industries who shared with the world their experiences and insight, further consolidating ABLF’s continuous drive towards innovation and transformation amidst the current socio-economic, cultural and technological zeitgeist.”
A total of six sessions were held covering fireside chats and panel discussions, starting with ‘The Long Road to Economic Stability,’ a Fireside Conversation with H.E. Abdulla bin Touq Al Marri. The discussion dealt with the profound impact that COVID-19 has had on the livelihood of billions around the world, compromising the global economy, and the swift responses of governments, banks and international organisations to address the economic ramifications of the pandemic, seeking sustainable solutions to stimulate recovery and return to financial stability.
The second session, ‘A Time for Resilient Leadership,’ constituted another Fireside Conversation with H.E. Eng Suhail Faraj Al Mazrouei, Cabinet Member and Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, UAE, exploring governmental and business tools necessary to stay afloat and highlighted the role of our chosen leaders in guiding us during these uncertain times to ensure that people are safe, motivated to work, and equipped with essentials to weather this storm.
“Our aim is to maintain a very strong position in terms of infrastructure because it was an enabler for our economic growth and we know that in the future it will enable us to go and expand on the leading role in the region that we have.” - H.E. Eng Suhail Faraj Al Mazrouei
Following was the third power-packed session, ‘The UN SDGs: A Greater Urgency with Higher Stakes,’ which was a Panel Discussion whose speakers included H.E. Dr. Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer at Dubai Cares and Member of its Board of Directors, UAE, who is a vocal advocate for children’s and youth’s right to quality education, and a global champion of Education in Emergencies; Saadia Zahidi, Managing Director, World Economic Forum, and Stefania Giannini, Assistant Director-General for Education, UNESCO. The discussion connected with activists, corporate humanitarians and global-aid organisations to learn more about the impact of this pandemic on the 17 identified UN SDGs and the new goals and timelines for efforts to support the world’s underserved and vulnerable.
“One of the main challenges over the past 6 months globally has been around having access to remote learning and the right to connectivity and technology within the education arena. As the world has shifted to remote learning, vulnerable children and youth who do not have access to either connectivity or tablets and computers risk being left behind. For this reason, Dubai Cares is working closely with UNESCO’s Global Education Coalition for Covid-19 Response as well as UNICEF’s Generation Unlimited to ensure that all children and young people globally have access to connectivity for learning and livelihoods. Over the long term, Dubai Cares aims to play a leading role in re-shaping the global narrative on education through RewirEd, a global education summit that Dubai Cares is hosting during Expo 2020 Dubai in December 2021. At RewirEd, we aim to push the boundaries of current thinking to explore new approaches and partnerships to global challenges facing education. We hope that the ABLF will serve as a catalyst for Asian organizations to join our efforts and take RewirEd to a higher level,” said H.E. Dr Tariq Al Gurg.
“There is a broad concern with what the changes in education mean for girls when they return to school. If they are given more responsibilities at home, will they have less time for education?” - Saadia Zahidi
“There are three ways to help the education sector through the pandemic: prioritise inclusion, support teachers and make technology a driver for innovation.” - Stefania Giannini
‘The Crisis: A Catalyst for a Tech-led Future,’ comprising the fourth session, was another panel discussion whose speakers were H.E. Khalfan Belhoul, CEO, Dubai Future Foundation, UAE, under whose supervision the DFF works towards achieving its vision of placing Dubai as a leading city of the future and a hub for innovation and technology; and Dr Preetha Reddy, Vice Chairperson, Apollo Hospitals, India, widely recognised for her contributions in making advanced medical care accessible to millions across the world.
“Government agility is the best recipe for success…For technology to work as efficiently, there should be a giant leap in inclusivity and collaboration to scale up at a global level.” - H.E. Khalfan Belhoul.
The fifth session, ‘The Future of Mobility,’ was also a Panel Discussion that hosted Hon. Joy Kabatsi, Minister of State for Transport and Cabinet Member, Uganda, who has been at the forefront of tackling the COVID-19 challenge, leading the procurement of equipment essential for the reopening of the airport; and Jay Walder, CEO and Board Member, Virgin Hyperloop, USA, who has led the development of Virgin Hyperloop’s revolutionary energy-efficient technology. The discussion addressed smarter mobility options for the new economy by highlighting how public authorities are seeking to find sustainable measures to address current challenges to mobility and transport with environment-friendly, integrated, safe, sanitised, automated, and personalised travel as the ultimate goal.
“We want to be part of new technology, be it for economy or cargo or transport. In Africa, we wait to see what is good for people and then jump on it. We adapt the best practices of the developed world for the good of our people.” - Hon. Joy Kabatsi
“In a post-COVID-19 world, we want mass transportation that is convenient, fast and to open up new doors for the life we really want to live. The world has been ready for disruptive technology in mobility for a very long time. Hyperloop technology is the first mass transformation in this sector we have had in a 100 years.” - Jay Walder
The sixth session, ‘Fast-tracking Financial Inclusion for the Digital Economy,’ talked about how spending habits are changing across the world, and how banks and financial services are coping with the evolving needs of the market with financial stability as a priority. The speech was given by H.E. Younis Haji Al Khouri, Undersecretary, Ministry of Finance, UAE, who has served the government for over two decades, coordinating the financial policies of the government in several aspects as well as overseeing government initiatives and projects with respect to various arms of the economy. The concluding session was a Fireside Conversation with Mustafa Bosca, Managing Director and Partner, Boston Consulting Group (BCG), who has worked extensively with banks, money exchanges, asset managers and regulators on strategy design and execution, large-scale transformation, operating model design and financial sector development.
“Financial inclusion and financial security are not ends in themselves but are means to an end – they are critical to reducing poverty, boosting shared prosperity and achieving inclusive economic growth.” - H.E. Younis Haji Al Khouri
"During the pandemic, there has been a fundamental shift in banking customers’ adoption of digital change. A large number of customers enrolled for the first time in digital channels, cashless payments increased significantly, and trust towards digital-only banks improved. While these changes are positive, the key question for the industry is how to sustain the shifts and continue to accelerate the digital agenda." Mustafa Bosca
The ABLF TALKS LIVE Virtual Conclave will continue to feature the presence and participation of proactive, productive and authentic leaders who are committed to restoring economic balance and supporting the rebuild of the world through the time of the pandemic and beyond. Hosted at the ABLF City, it is designed to stay on the pulse of the global economy and help shape a better future for Asia.
The ABLF City is set to bring over 10 million global attendees to its virtual events across the upcoming decade, a critical time for the world making the ABLF City the most engaging virtual hub in the region that brings together experts, industry leaders, strategists, students influencers, high-profile individuals and investors. With its cutting-edge virtual technology, the power of innovation and the ABLF’s own vibrant and established network, the interactive interface serves as a change catalyst for the socio-economic empowerment of Asian nations, promoting the UAE as a hub that celebrates the spirit of innovative entrepreneurship and sustainable businesses while facilitating networking and collaboration opportunities.