By- Yasmine Saleh, ZAWYA
Officials in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have announced the key themes that will be discussed at the World Government Summit (WGS) in Dubai next month. The sixth edition of the WGS is scheduled to take place on February 11-13. It will include 4,000 attendees from 140 countries, according to a press release sent to the media on Wednesday.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the UAE’s vice president and prime minister and ruler of Dubai, is expected to attend the event along with several other top UAE and international officials, including Jim Kim, the president of the World Bank and Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund.
France’s prime minister Edouard Philippe is expected to give a keynote speech at the summit, which will have Indian prime minister Narendra Modi as its guest of honour this year.
In a press conference on Wednesday, Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Gergawi, the minister of cabinet affairs and the future and the chairman of WGS, said this year’s conference will include new initiatives for youth. It will also discuss the role of technology, happiness and artificial intelligence in the development of governments and people.
The UAE has in the past few years created new ministries for happiness, youth affairs and tolerance. In October last year, the government appointed Omar Bin Sultan Al Olama as the new Minister for Artificial Intelligence. Al Olama will assume his role after the summit.
“This year, we will have the world’s symposium for the globalisation of artificial intelligence,” Al Gergawi said at the press conference, speaking in Arabic.
Al Gergawi said a female minister will be awarded the conference’s annual prize of Best Minister for the second successive year. He did not give the minister’s name or country.
Last year, Senegal’s minister of health and social action, Awa Marie Coll-Seck, won the prize, according to the WGS’s website.
Al Gergawi said the summit will also host seminars on space. The UAE last month launched a programme to select four citizens to become astronauts for its space exploration programme.
He said this year’s WGS will include discussion sessions on cryptocurrencies. Digital currencies have made headline news in the past year, after their trading values grew to records highs despite a lack of regulation and official recognition from governments. “The future’s gold or oil is the mining (a programming technology) used in the process of creating cryptocurrencies,” Al Gergawi said.
“What is needed is governance on digital currencies, just like everything else is governed,” he added.
The CEO and co-founder of Dubai-based cryptocurrency exchange BitOasis told Zawya in an interview on Tuesday that she will focus this year on helping regulators set rules and guidelines for the trading in digital currencies.
In a response to a question from the media on whether this year’s summit will lead to more tangible outcomes rather than just ‘talks’, Al Gergawi said the summit cannot force governments to take action, as its role is merely to offer a platform for discussions and exchange of ideas.