@ nyu abu dhabi Saadiyat ISLAND United Arab Emirates

Each year Ideas Abu Dhabi chooses four issues of global importance - topics that are considered to have the most potential for breakthroughs in the next 10 years, or are in need of radical rethinking. Stay tuned for 2023 speaker and moonshot announcements.

Previous Highlights

Previous Moonshots

About The Moonshots
From New World Order to None?
The Brain: Unfolding the mystery
Cyber: The new battleground?
Faster, further, for all?

Forum sessions explore the 4 issues of global importance that have the most potential for breakthroughs in the next ten years, or are most in need of radical rethinking. These are our ‘moonshots’: challenges so large in both ambition and timeline that no one person, organisation, or country can really solve. The 2019 Ideas Abu Dhabi moonshots included The New World Order, The Brain, Cyber and The Future of Transport.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, US President George H. W. Bush declared a ‘new world order’. Decades on and the system of international institutions and global relations that has defined the post-World War II era is under pressure. A fast-growing Asia and re-assertive Russia are pushing for change and exploring alternatives. Will the existing system limp along until a crisis forces it to adapt, or can it evolve to reflect new realities? This track explored these and related questions.

The brain is the most complex structure in the known universe. Despite decades of research and millions of dollars spent on scientific research we still have a limited understanding of how it truly works. Significant efforts are underway to revolutionise the way we understand, treat, and even enhance the brain. This track explored pressing questions related to the science of the brain including: ’how far away are we from any real progress in curing brain diseases?’ and ‘what potential is there for upgrading our own cerebral hardware?’

The exponential growth of Internet connectivity – from phones and homes to businesses and governments – has created tremendous advances in knowledge, commerce, and education. At the same time, it poses new dangers to our personal and national security. High-profile cases have shown just how vulnerable our online lives have made us. Millions of people globally have seen their personal details go on sale on the dark web while hackers have locked out entire hospital systems seeking ransom payment in bitcoin.  The culprits are no longer visible, are scattered around the globe, and often have opaque motivations. This track sought to shed light on these emerging threats and what can be done to counter them.

From self-driving cars and Hyperloop to sub-orbital commercial space travel, the way in which we travel is set to be revolutionised. With new modes of transport come new ways for us to live and work. This track sought to explore whether these future technologies are achievable, the impact they could have, and the challenges they pose against a backdrop of urban congestion, climate change, and a growing population.

Previous speakers


To find out more about the previous year’s Forum read the 2018 and 2017 report from LEK and McKinsey & Company.

Mckinsey Report
LEK Report

In 2017, McKinsey & Company partnered with Ideas Abu Dhabi as a Knowledge Partner to produce a report with key highlights from the inaugural Ideas Abu Dhabi Forum.


L.E.K Consulting, one of the world’s largest strategy firms, partnered with Ideas Abu Dhabi in 2018 as a Knowledge Partner to develop a report featuring key highlights from the 2018 Forum.


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