Under the patronage of Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, the Arab Knowledge Forum convened on 18th April at Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi with the participation of leading universities and key foundations, bringing together a constructive dialogue among leading figures from industry, chief academic officers, and relevant governmental agencies, as well as young graduates, joining forces in collective capacity-building endeavours to enhance the empowerment of youth in the UAE, as part of the key strategic objectives of knowledge development.
Themed around the topic of knowledge development with the focus of "Preserving our Earth, Unearthing our Talents: On Sustainable Knowledge Development and Capacity-Building of the Youth in the UAE", the forum brought together the chief academic officers of leading institutions of higher learning and key hubs of knowledge development within the UAE, with Professor Dr. Mohammed BaniYas, the Executive Director of Higher Education, Abu Dhabi Education Council, ADEC, Dr. Eric Fouache, Vice-Chancellor of Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi, Dr. Al Bloom, Vice-Chancellor of New York University in Abu Dhabi, Dr. Miguel Lobo, Director of INSEAD, Dr. Jihad Nader, Provost and Chief Academic Officer of American University of Dubai, and Dr. Lamia Fawwaz, Vice President of Masdar Institute, taking part in the Inaugural Keynote Panel.
Mohammed Abdul Jalil Al Fahim, Chairman of Al Fahim Group of Companies, Yousuf Al Bastaki, Senior Vice President of Emirates Global Aluminum, Moosa Al Moosa, President of Dow Chemical Company, Osman Sultan, CEO of du, and James Arnott, Managing Director of Accenture, took part representing the private sector in deliberations moderated by Ramsey Jurdi, the president of the American Business Council, focusing on ways and means of enhancing the role of the private sector.
Speaking at the inauguration of the event, Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak said, "We must ensure that our young people obtain the knowledge, vision, and opportunity that will allow them to flourish in this 21st Century. I presume that we all agree upon one central fact: until the education of all young Arab women and men is dramatically improved, Arab countries will struggle to achieve their individual and collective ambitions to be valued competitors and leaders in the global society and global economy.
"The Arab world has experienced a diminished role in its once pre-eminent global leadership position in science, technology, and mathematics and in social and political leadership. Starting immediately, and continuing into the future, we must develop programmes and activities that will help restore the lustre and respect of Arab leadership. That restoration begins with education and its essence of knowledge acquisition and application.
"Since its founding, the United Arab Emirates has stressed economic, technological, and human development as the foundation for sustained progress and prosperity. Under the wise leadership of His Highness the President, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE, in less than half a century, has positioned itself as an emerging global leader in developing a knowledge-based economy and society. The President’s leadership team, headed by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, focuses intently on those goals. Our country consequently has become increasingly educated and evermore intellectually curious and adventurous.
The UAE has matured in the digital age and has capitalised on its opportunities. We continue to value technological competence, especially as it supports education, business and finance, a sustainable environment, and an innovative, productive, and prosperous society. Our country has been highly successful in bringing together private and public institutions, nationals and expatriates, to create an energetic and balanced multi-cultural society with a strong commitment to improving the quality of life for all people."
Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak continued, "Our leaders consistently stress the importance of deeper and broader education at all instructional levels. High quality education that features student-centred, open-inquiry learning at all levels will prepare the leaders needed to develop a world class knowledge-based economy that enhances the quality of life for the entire society.
"This century insists, more than any time before, that knowledge is power; the power to shape individual lives, the power to shape societies, even the power to shape civilisations and, therefore, the power to shape the future of humankind. Collectively, we must take actions that will harness the power of knowledge and direct it in ways that will ensure a more peaceful and prosperous world and improve the quality of life for all members of our global society.
"Your thoughtful discussion of these issues will benefit all of us. The success of this forum will be measured not only by what is said, but also by the strength of your commitment to achieve well-considered goals and by the necessary actions that you discuss. I express my appreciation to each of you for attending and contributing to this Arab Knowledge Forum. I am confident that your deliberations and discussions will enrich the lives of young people throughout the Arab world."
Expressing his pride at hosting the Arab Knowledge Forum on the campus of Paris-Sorbonne University in Abu Dhabi, Professor Eric Fouache, Vice-Chancellor, said that the topic of the forum was particularly relevant to the goals of knowledge development set down as key strategic objectives by the UAE leadership since the very inception of the Union. He expressed his profound gratitude to Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak for his unwavering support of the joint efforts of both UAE knowledge entities and regional partners in providing Emirati youth with the sustainable underpinnings of knowledge development, capacity-building, and continued empowerment with culture and the attribute of life-long learning.
The programme commenced with the Emirati and French national anthems being played by renowned Arab musician Jihad Akl, along with a musical piece entitled "Baynoonah", which was especially dedicated to the Arab Knowledge Forum.