Expo 2020 Dubai’s new World Majlis series is bringing together change-makers and aspiring leaders from around the globe to stimulate a powerful dialogue on how we can create a legacy of meaningful impact that reflects the World Expo’s theme of ‘Connecting minds, Creating the Future’. The World Majlis session, held at Manarat Al Saadiyat in Abu Dhabi, gathered thought leaders from various government, professional, academic and cultural backgrounds for an in-depth discussion about the lessons and values of the UAE’s Founding Father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and his vision for a sustainable future.
In line with Expo 2020’s theme, and underpinned by its key sub-themes of Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability, the World Majlis has been launched as a thematic dialogue programme to facilitate meaningful global conversations and forge connections between people and new ideas, which may not have otherwise occurred. The initiative is deeply rooted in the Emirati and Arab tradition of the majlis – a highly valued meeting space where people gather to gain different perspectives and share informed opinions to help shape decisions on subjects that matter to their communities. Monday’s World Majlis, titled ‘Sustainability Through New Eyes’, was chaired by Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director General of Dubai Expo 2020 Bureau. The session comprised 17 thought leaders, as well as 14 students and two professors from local and international universities.
Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy said: “Through the World Majlis, Expo 2020 Dubai wants to create a global dialogue by gathering people with diverse perspectives to engage in meaningful conversations that encourage them to look differently at challenges and create a real impact. Today, more than ever, `we need to place humanity at the heart of our future. In doing so, we bring to life important subjects of global relevance. From the outset, Expo 2020 has been about so much more than the six months of the Expo; our aim is to support the UAE’s long-term strategic vision and the UAE Centennial 2071 plan. The World Majlis is aligned with this objective to inform a strong legacy by inspiring positive impact, throughout our journey to 2020 and beyond.”
The World Majlis sessions are bringing together current and future thought leaders from a range of backgrounds including government, technology, science, art, culture, media and literature. Within each session, participants address a number of topical issues. During this week’s World Majlis, those topics included how industry can mitigate its environmental impact while pursuing economic growth; how consumers can be transformed into responsible citizens by changing the way we think about consumption; and how the power of art and culture can help shift the focus of conversations about sustainability from loss to opportunity. Representatives from Expo 2020’s Official Premier Partners Accenture, Etisalat and PepsiCo also shared their insights from the leading edge of innovation. Participants from UAE Government bodies and initiatives included Dr Nawal Al-Hosany, Deputy Director General, Emirates Diplomatic Academy and Dr Majid Al Qassimi, Director of Animal Health and Development, Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MoCCAE).
Sass Brown, Founding Dean, Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation (DIDI), said: “Topics like sustainability can be quite divisive but the World Majlis is a great platform to encourage conversation in a way that is not controversial. The tradition of the majlis allows that open conversation. I am excited that this is part of the build-up to Expo 2020 and that we get to participate, comment and be part of the process.” Reflecting Expo 2020’s belief that youth must be at the heart of the next World Expo and its legacy, young people are among the participants of the World Majlis. This session included four students from Emirates Diplomatic Academy and 12 participants from academic institutions across the UAE who have benefitted from Expo Live’s University Innovation Programme, which challenges them to team up and develop solutions to global problems.
Sebastián Caro, New York University, Abu Dhabi, said: “The World Majlis has given us students an opportunity to empower ourselves and to step up and talk about important subjects, such as sustainability. The opportunity that we have to talk with important people with such diverse expertise and experiences gives us exposure that we need to take our ideas and make them become reality. “I hope that 30 years from now I will be able to say, I was there, I thought of this and I was able to do it.” A series of more than 50 World Majlis sessions will take place throughout the journey to 2020 and during the six months of Expo 2020, both in the UAE and abroad.