Ideas Abu Dhabi 2019 Ideas Abu Dhabi 2019

Ideas Abu Dhabi 2019 took place on 27-28 March 2019 at New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD), Saadiyat Island and featured a lineup of Emirati and international speakers from across government, business, academia, and media. The Forum tracks examined the challenges to the current global order; the latest efforts to understand and even enhance the human brain; the impacts of the oncoming revolutions in transportation; and the dangers of a new cyber battleground.


Featured Sessions Featured Sessions

Sen. Matteo Renzi, Italian politican and former Prime Minister of Italy, discussed the reformist approach as a reaction to populism, and proposed education as the best method of combatting it.

Tracks Tracks

From New World Order to none?Evolution & crisis in global relations
The Brain:Unfolding the mystery
Cyber:The new battleground?
Faster, further, for all?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 will explore 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 revolutionize the way we understand, treat, and perhaps even enhance the brain. This track will explore 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 will seek to shed light on these emerging threats and what can be done to counter them.

From self-driving cars and Hyperloop to the return of supersonic air 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 will seek 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 rising population.


H.E. Dr. Anwar Gargash
UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs

H.E. Dr. Anwar Mohammed Gargash is a member of the Federal Cabinet of the United Arab Emirates and has served as Minister of State for Foreign Affairs since 2008. Between 2006 and 2016, Dr Gargash was the Minister of State for Federal National Council Affairs.

In addition to his ministerial portfolio, Dr Gargash was Chairman of the National Elections Committee, overseeing the UAE’s first elections which took place in 2006 and the subsequent elections in 2011 and 2015. He is also the Chairman of the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking; the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Al Owais Cultural Foundation; Member of the Board of Trustees of the Emirates Diplomatic Academy; and leads the UAE team for the Human Rights Periodic Review.

Dr Gargash previously served in several other senior positions in both the state and federal government, including as a board member of the Emirates Media Establishment from 1999 to 2007, and was a board member of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry from 1997 to 2006.

Dr. Gargash received his Ph.D from King’s College, Cambridge and holds Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Political Science from George Washington University.

Mina Al Oraibi
Editor-in-Chief, The National

Mina Al-Oraibi is the Editor in Chief of The National, a daily English language regional newspaper based in Abu Dhabi. An Iraqi-British journalist, Mina has over 15 years of experience covering Middle Eastern, European and American affairs. Prior to assuming her role at The National, Mina was a Senior Fellow at the Institute for State Effectiveness (ISE) and a Yale World Fellow. At ISE, Mina is working on developing policy recommendations for improved governance in the Arab world, with a focus on Iraq and Syria.

Before starting her fellowship at Yale, Mina was the Assistant Editor-in-Chief of Asharq Alawsat, the international Arab-language daily newspaper 2011-2015. She has written extensively on US and European policies in the Middle East, in addition to conducting several high profile interviews including with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Iraqi President Barham Salih, and UNHCR High Commissioner Filippo Grandi.

Mina is an Advisor to the Global Dignity Day Movement and a trustee of the American University in Iraq – Sulaimani. Mina was named as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.

Bill Emmott
Author; Chairman, International Institute for Strategic Studies

An independent writer, lecturer, and consultant on international affairs. He was formerly Editor of The Economist from 1993 until 2006, having worked there since 1980 in Brussels, Tokyo, and London. He is an author and documentary film maker, and chairs The Wake Up Foundation, a charity dedicated to education and communication about the decline of western societies, which he co-founded with Italian film-maker, Annalisa Piras. In 2016 the Japanese government awarded him the “Order of the Rising Sun: Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon” for services to UK-Japan relations.

Prof. Kishore Mahbubani
Professor in the Practice of Public Policy, National University of Singapore

Formerly Singapore’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations and later Dean of the prestigious Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, he is now Professor in the Practice of Public Policy at NUS. He was listed as Foreign Policy magazine’s Top 100 Global Thinkers in 2011 and Prospect magazine’s Top 50 world thinkers in 2014, and has recently published a book titled ‘Has the West Lost It?’.

Rt. Hon. Gordon Brown
UN Special Envoy for Global Education and Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

Gordon Brown is the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education and former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 2007 to 2010 and is widely credited with preventing a second Great Depression through his stewardship of the 2009 London G20 summit. Previously, he served as Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1997 to 2007, making him the longest-serving Chancellor in modern history.

Sen. Matteo Renzi
Former Prime Minister of Italy

Matteo Renzi is an Italian politician who served as the Prime Minister of Italy from February 2014 until December 2016. Renzi served as President of the Province of Florence from 2004 to 2009 and as Mayor of Florence from 2009 to 2014.

Renzi is the youngest person to serve as Italian Prime Minister and was the youngest leader in the G7. He was also the first serving Mayor to become Prime Minister. In 2014, the American magazine Fortune ranked Renzi as the third most influential person under 40 in the world, and Foreign Policy listed him as one of the Top 100 Global Thinkers. Moreover, Renzi is nicknamed il Rottamatore (the Scrapper) due to his ambition of renovating the Italian political establishment. Renzi, who did not hold a seat in either house of Parliament during his tenure as Prime Minister, became a member of the Senate as a result of the 2018 general election. Following the 2018 election, Renzi announced his resignation as Secretary of the Democratic Party, effective 12 March 2018.

Dr Syed Hussain
Chair, Department of Neurology, Neurological Institute, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi

Syed Irteza Hussain, MD is the Chair of the Department of Neurology in the Neurological Institute at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi. Dr. Hussain is a Consultant Neurologist with 17 years of experience. After completing his medical degree from the prestigious Aga Khan University he underwent extensive post graduate training in the US. He is American Board certified in Neurology, Vascular neurology, Neurocritical Care and Neuroendovascular surgery. He has been involved in setting up clinical and training programs related to disorders of circulation of the Nervous system in the United States. He has been working at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi since 2016. His research interests are related to stroke and acute neurological illnesses. He has special interest in the historical depiction of neurological conditions in history, literature and the arts.

Dr. Mary Lou Jepsen
CEO and Founder, Openwater; Co-founder of One Laptop per Child; former Executive at Google and Facebook

A technical executive and inventor in the fields of display, imaging, and computer hardware, Mary Lou has been a project leader at Intel and Google X, and more recently an executive at Facebook on their Oculus VR project. She is founder of OpenWater a startup working on fMRI-type imaging of the body using holographic, infrared techniques, which led to her being named to CNN’s top 10 thinkers in science and technology.

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