Dubai, UAE, 30
May 2022, The Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation
(MBRF) hosted various panel discussions and seminars centered around its
knowledge initiatives at the 31st edition of the Abu Dhabi
International Book Fair. The events explored the future investment landscape,
sustainability in the private sector, and the challenges faced by the Arabic
language in knowledge transfer.
from various government agencies and institutions, in addition to many renowned
figures, visited the foundation’s pavilion to learn more about its knowledge
initiatives and projects. Most prominent among these initiatives was the
Digital Knowledge Hub- an open Arabic platform that includes 1.7 million digital
items and provides solutions for building digital libraries and sharing content
with universities, schools, and government institutions.
MBRF, in collaboration
with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) organized two sessions as
part of its KnowTalks series. The first session, entitled ‘Revolutionizing
Sustainability in the Private Sector: From CSR to ESG’ discussed the importance
of adopting environmental and social governance (ESG) practices in the private
sector. The session was moderated by Stéphanie Boustany, Program Analyst at UNDP,
with the participation of Ivano Iannelli, Senior Consultant, Sustainability at
Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA).
Iannelli began the
discussion with a presentation showcasing the importance of implementing clear
and concise ESG standards by private sector companies in light of current
global challenges. Iannelli stated that it is not enough for companies to take
sustainability into consideration by promoting it through stickers on their
products or running promotional campaigns; they must also make effective
efforts and show integrity and flexibility, especially after the Covid-19
pandemic which has forced us to face and adapt to many changes through new and
Iannelli also pointed
out that companies must adhere to government plans and comply with the timeline
set in the 2015 Paris Agreement, adding that they should facilitate strategic collaborations
with other sectors to reduce their carbon footprint. This can be achieved
through balanced methods that take adequate resource management into
consideration. He further pointed to the lack of collaboration among the
international community as a major cause for increased natural disasters.
Noting the severe storms in Eastern Asia and the Middle East, Iannelli warned
that the situation would only get worse in the coming years.
He added: “The Paris
Agreement has set the foundation to lead governments and the private sector
down the right path, alongside other commitments such as the European Green
Deal, which aims to have all institutions comply with sustainable and social
Iannelli further emphasized
the importance of companies operating with more transparency when it comes to issuing
data related to the implementation of the ESG standards, and the periodical evaluation
of those standards through sustainability reports. Iannelli explained that these
reports point out key weaknesses and showcase a company’s compatibility with
the new directives. He added that the current systems do not match the goals in
place, companies require more encouragement to take this step and work towards building
the future that we dream of.
He said: “Technology
plays an important role in supporting ESG transformations. It also creates more
opportunities for change and paves the way for achieving net-zero emissions. Fields
such as engineering, legal, and advanced digital economy services are all futuristic
technical skills that are required to achieve these transformations.”
The second KnowTalks
discussion panel, entitled ‘The New Investment Landscape: Investing in Crises’,
was presented by Sara Modalal Al-Qahtani, Head of Middle East at Mercury
Capital Advisors, who discussed the future of investment.
At the beginning of the
panel, Al Qahtani spoke about the status of global markets before the Covid-19
pandemic, noting that the markets were at the peak of their growth, enjoying
prosperity with promising prospects and many positive signs of digital
transformation. She mentioned that with the spread of the epidemic globally,
the markets quickly lost 30 per cent of their value. She pointed out how the
suspension of travel and trade, as well as the continued bad news, had
devastating effects on the global economy.
Al Qahtani explained
that technology companies were the biggest beneficiary of this crisis as they
continue to achieve great leaps in their growth. She highlighted that the
companies that were able to keep pace with digital transformation before the
pandemic could move forward. Artificial intelligence, digital systems and
emerging and modern technologies are among the most prominent new investment
projects, as they can guarantee 30 per cent of global food production during
epidemics and provide innovative solutions to logistical and supply chain
Al Qahtani pointed out
that it is necessary to support investments that make the world better, such as
the manufacture of electric cars and green hydrogen extraction, the promotion
of energy sources and green energy, as well as the consolidation of financial opportunities
by enabling these projects. She added that there are ample opportunities for
investment during times of crisis.
As part of the
Knowledge Lounge- an initiative launched by the Foundation to instill the
culture of reading in daily life, several panel discussions were held. Renowned
writer Ray Abdulaal held a panel entitled ‘Our Children and the Visible Image
Acquisitions’, and a panel entitled ‘Knowledge shifts in the Arabian Gulf’ was
held with the participation of Dr. Hassan Madan, moderated by Rola Al Banna.
A panel entitled
“The City and the Man in Cairo Maquette” was organized with the
participation of writer Tariq Al Imam, and the interview was moderated by Safia
Program for Writing
The Dubai International
Writing Program, which aims to encourage and empower young talents who have the
gift of writing in various fields of knowledge, launched a workshop entitled ‘Writers
of Tomorrow… The UAE after 50 years.’ A ceremony was held to launch books
completed in the ‘Short Story 2020’ workshop.
In light of the ‘Bil
Arabi’ initiative aimed at supporting, preserving and encouraging the use of
the Arabic language, the Foundation organized a panel discussion entitled ‘Digital
solutions to support the Arabic language and their impact on the development of
the knowledge society.’ The session was carried out with the participation of
Dr. Khaled Abdulfattah- a consultant for digital and cognitive solutions in the
Foundation, and Dr. Imad Abdel Aziz, a consultant in the field of studies at
the Sharjah Documentation and Archives Authority, and moderated by Professor
The speakers discussed
the peculiarity of the Arabic language in terms of structural and cognitive
characteristics compared to other languages, and its flexibility and ability to
assimilate many terms and vocabulary over the years. They pointed out that
despite this, there was a scarcity in the digital Arabic content, which constitutes
only 3 percent of all global digital content, compared to English content,
which represents 50 percent of all digital content.
The speakers attributed
the scarcity of digital Arabic content to the digital transformation tools
invented in Western countries being dedicated to solely supporting the English
language, which led to a delay of about 20 years for these tools to be able to
process the Arabic language.
They further confirmed
the importance of adopting one cultural policy to support the Arabic language
digitally and to benefit from the intellectual and knowledge heritage it provides.
They emphasized the need to consolidate its globalization, especially formal Arabic.
In this context, they applauded the role of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum
Knowledge Foundation through its various initiatives, including the Dubai
International Program for Writing, the ‘Bil Arabi’ initiative, and the digital
knowledge center that provides Arabic content for free, without restrictions.