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Climate change top of the agenda at Davos

Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum will once again lead the UAE's delegation in Davos Creative Commons
Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum will once again lead the UAE's delegation in Davos

The Gulf’s two largest economies, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, are sending top-level delegations to the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) annual meeting in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, which begins today. 

The UAE’s delegation, led by Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, deputy prime minister and minister of finance, will also include Abdulla Bin Touq Al Marri, minister of economy, and Mariam Mohammed Saeed Al Mheiri, minister of climate change and the environment.

The Saudi delegation is headed by Dr Ibrahim Bin Abdulaziz Al-Assaf, minister of state and member of the cabinet of ministers and also includes minister of investment Khalid Bin Abdulaziz Al Falih, minister of finance Mohammed Bin Abdullah Al-Jadaan and assistant minister of tourism Princess Haifa Bint Muhammad Al Saud.

According to a statement posted on the official Saudi Press Agency, the delegation will engage in talks with international partners to seek solutions to critical global challenges including climate change, the emerging economic crisis, disrupted logistics and supply chains, geopolitical tensions, global energy security and the ongoing fallout from the pandemic.

Delegations from Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman will also attend with more than 50 heads of state and government and 300 other governmental representatives to share their vision for the world.

However, there will also be many notable absentees. US president Joe Biden is not on the list, nor is the British prime minister Boris Johnson, French president Emmanuel Macron or Italy’s prime minister, Mario Draghi.

The highest ranking US politician on show will be Biden’s climate envoy, John Kerry, while Alok Sharma, who presided over the Cop26 meeting in Glasgow last November, will be leading the UK delegation, suggesting climate change will be a priority discussion this week.

WEF said it aims to reduce the CO2 emissions of all its activities and, since 2017, all emissions are calculated and offset 100 percent by supporting environmental projects in Switzerland and abroad.

A high-level Bahraini delegation will highlight the kingdom’s investment opportunities following its recently announced Economic Recovery Plan which aims to boost growth across many sectors.

The plan is based on five pillars, which include facilitating commercial procedures to attract investments worth more than $2.5 billion by 2023, catalysing over $30 billion of investments in strategic projects, and creating new industrial investment opportunities across the kingdom. 

More than 1,250 leaders from the private sector will also be participating, along with nearly 100 innovators from the world’s most promising tech and business start-ups and scale-ups.

This year’s theme is History at a Turning Point: Government Policies and Business Strategies. After a two-year hiatus the meeting will bring together nearly 2,500 leaders and experts from around the globe.

Against the backdrop of deepening global frictions and fractures and a once-in-a-century pandemic, the meeting’s ambition is to rise to these challenges. 

With the world at such a critical turning point, global business and government leaders need to work together to develop long-term policies and strategies that will revitalise the hard-hit global economy, strengthen the progress made to advance the Fourth Industrial Revolution and tackle climate change.

“The annual meeting is the first summit that brings global leaders together in this new situation characterised by an emerging multipolar world as a result of the pandemic and [Russia-Ukraine] war,” said Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman, World Economic Forum.

“The fact that nearly 2,500 leaders from politics, business civil society and media come together in person demonstrates the need for a trusted, informal and action-oriented global platform to confront the issues in a crisis-driven world.”

Cutting across the theme of the meeting are several priorities and issues that will shape the years to come. 

The programme will focus on six thematic pillars:

  1. Fostering global and regional cooperation – how to restore stability amid a new era of geopolitical conflict and tension as well as advancing trade, prosperity and partnerships
  2. Securing the economic recovery and shaping a new era of growth – how to stabilise the real economy and the financial system while also determining the future of balanced growth, globalisation and development
  3. Building healthy and equitable societies – how to move beyond the health emergency phase of the pandemic, rebuilding in its wake and strengthening health resilience for future threats as well as investing in good jobs, living wages, skills and education, not forgetting to redefine stakeholder capitalism for a new context
  4. Safeguarding climate, food and nature – how to continue to secure food systems, and building a nature-based economy as well as sequencing the energy transition and building a green economy
  5. Driving industry transformation – how to balance innovation, resilience and efficiency across industries as well as reskilling initiatives that are helping equip industries and workers with the tools to succeed in a changing world
  6. Harnessing the power of the Fourth Industrial Revolution – how to enhance technology governance and cyber security as well as the Forum’s fast-growing network of Centres for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which shape new policies and strategies by leveraging science, technology and innovation.

Civil society will be represented at the annual meeting by more than 200 leaders from NGOs, social entrepreneurs, academia, labour organisations, faith-based and religious groups. 

The annual meeting will also bring together younger generations, with 100 members of the Forum’s Global Shaper and Young Global Leader communities participating.

The Gulf delegations in full

  • UAE Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance; Mohammad Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs; Ohood Bint Khalfan Al Roumi, Minister of State for Government Development and the Future; Shamma bint Suhail Faris Al Mazrui, Minister of State for Youth Affairs; Thani Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade; Mohamed bin Hadi Al Hussaini, Minister of State for Financial Affairs, Ministry of Finance; Omar Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications; Sarah Al Amiri, Minister of State for Advanced Technology, Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology; Shakhboot bin Nahyan Al Nahyan, Minister of State.
  • Saudi Arabia Abdulaziz Bin Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud,  Minister of Energy; Abdullah Al Swaha, Minister of Communications and Information Technology; Faisal Alibrahim, Minister of Economy and Planning; Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Khalid Al-Falih, Minister of Investment; Mohammed Al-Jadaan, Minister of Finance; Haifa Bint Mohammed Al Saud, Assistant Minister for Strategy and Executive Affairs, Ministry of Tourism.
  • Bahrain Khalid Bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, Adviser on Diplomatic Affairs to the King of Bahrain; Salman bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, Minister of Finance and National Economy; Zayed Rashid Al Zayani, Minister of Industry and Commerce.
  • Qatar Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, Emir of Qatar; Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs; Ali Ahmed Al Kuwari, Minister of Finance; Mohammed bin Hamad bin Qassim Al Abdulla Al Thani, Minister of Commerce and Industry; Saad bin Sherida Al Kaabi, Minister of Energy; Lolwah AlKhater, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs.
  • Kuwait Abdulwahab Alrasheed, Minister of Finance and Minister of State for Economic Affairs and Investments; Ahmed Nasser AlMohammed Al-Ahmed AlJaber Al-Sabah, Minister of Foreign Affairs.
  • Oman Said Mohammed Ahmed Al-Saqri, Minister of Economy.

Open Forum to tackle Covid impact, Ukraine crisis

As part of the WEF annual meeting 2022, the Open Forum Davos will focus on the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the role of multilateralism for peace in Europe, as well as other global challenges.

Taking place for the first time since January 2020, the forum offers a platform for debate and interaction on controversial issues between the public and scholars, business leaders and policy-makers.

Each session will include at least one member of the Global Shapers Community, a network of people under 30 from all walks of life and different parts of the world.

One will be Ievgeniia Bodnya, 27, who mobilised the Global Shaper Hub she leads in Kyiv to build the Support Ukraine Now, a crowdsourcing and sharing information platform for people to support Ukrainians affected by the war. 

In another session, Kyiv Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko and his brother Wladimir, chairman of the Klitschko Foundation, will talk about how the Russian invasion has affected them and their country.

Also present at the Open Forum will be a group of climate activists, including 26-year-old Vanessa Nakate, author and climate advocate who addressed world leaders at the World Economic Forum 2020. Gender equality will also feature prominently in the conversations.

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