Expo 2020 Dubai’s World Majlis programme goes global with its launch in New York

NEW YORK, 25th September, 2018 (WAM) — Expo 2020 Dubai launched the first overseas edition of its World Majlis programme on Sunday with prominent thought leaders from around the globe convening in New York’s New Museum to discuss ‘How can the power of innovation and the human spirit enable more people to create their own future?’ In an ever exposed, bite-sized and fast-paced world, it has become increasingly rare for change-makers to sit in a neutral setting and constructively discuss the world’s most pressing issues without the distortions and distractions of the modern digital-led era.

The next World Expo, to be held in Dubai from 20 October, 2020 to 10 April, 2021, has launched a series of World Majlis conversations to help remedy this.

Expo 2020 Dubai has invited key opinion formers from around the world to meet face-to-face to discuss 21st century challenges in the long-established Arabian and UAE tradition of majlis, creating conversations that matter.

In a majlis setting, people who otherwise may not have engaged, can gain different perspectives, listen to informed opinions and shape actions on subjects that matter to their communities.

The World Majlis sessions exemplify Expo 2020 Dubai’s overarching ambition of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ and its three subthemes: Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability.

Among the panel of global thought-leaders in New York were the former Prime Minister of Canada, Kim Campbell, the curator of TED Talks, Chris Anderson, and NYU Stern School of Business’s Professor Arun Sundararajan, best-selling author of ‘The Sharing Economy’. Ambassador Lana Zaki Nusseibeh, UAE’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, moderated the session.

A number of university students were also invited to share their ideas and concerns, reflecting Expo 2020 Dubai’s focus on youth.

Sunday night’s World Majlis conversation was based on the theme ‘8 billion possibilities’, as the global population edges towards this milestone number by 2030. The discussion centred on how technology can help us tackle the challenges of offering opportunity for all and the factors that define opportunity for humankind today and in the future; how we collectively address these challenges, including through partnerships that have not traditionally been made to address them, and recognising people’s quest for meaning in their own lives in the fast-changing 21st century and identifying the need to retain timeless values in our institutions and decision-making.

Participants agreed on the importance of leadership and also on the power of ideas to inspire action and change.

After the 90-minute session, Reem bint Ibrahim Al Hashemy, Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director-General of Dubai Expo 2020 Bureau, said, “In all of our humble selves lie an ability to do something incredible. In this context, Expo 2020 Dubai can play a pivotal role in shifting people’s perception, and in not seeing visitors simply as visitors, but as game-changers and trend-setters of the future. In embodying Expo 2020 Dubai’s main theme, ‘connecting minds, creating the future’, we aspire to be instigators of this change and move forward together.”

In opening the session, moderator Lana Nusseibeh said, “Under the backdrop of the United Nations General Assembly, how do we bring opportunity to eight billion people and create a more relevant conversation? We need to collectively find solutions to these pressing issues.”

Chris Anderson said, “Ideas are a common tool kit of humanity; miracles follow that. When we have eight billion people on the planet, with access to video for everyone, what is the potential of that?”

Kim Campbell added to the discussions, “Leadership is missing; we must teach students how to judge information effectively, and make sure their ideas exist in a diverse environment.”

Arun Sundararajan said, “The challenge is to create opportunity without restricting it – the same platforms that create opportunities for one group of people, can also restrict it for another. The way we organise the world’s economic activity is moving away from the industrial model, to the platform model. We need to make sure we require technology platforms to embed in the software the values we want them to live by, otherwise we will end up with inequality.”

Kevin Chalhoub, a student at Stanford University, said, “The challenge with climate change is that the younger you are, the more you will be impacted by inaction. The key question is how to empower the youth to take action.”

The next World Majlis, a youth-focused Majlis, will convene in Dubai on 14th November, followed by Shanghai on 12th December. Multiple World Majlis sessions are intended to be held up to Expo 2020 and during the six-months of the Expo.

Expo 2020 Dubai is expected to attract 25 million visits, with an unprecedented 70 percent of visitors projected to come from outside the UAE – the largest proportion of international visitors in the 167-year history of World Expos.


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