MBZMFG Brings ‘Future Makers’ Together with Four UAE Ministers in October Session

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·         An initiative by the Mohamed Bin Zayed Majlis for Future Generations, the Lab challenges participants to set objectives and plans for the next 50 years

  • Ministers discussed what skills and capabilities are by needed by UAE youth to lead in a complex world

Abu Dhabi: A number of ‘Future Makers’ – the UAE’s brightest and most promising young students – were given the opportunity to interact with four UAE Cabinet Ministers when the Mohamed Bin Zayed Majlis for Future Generations (MBZMFG) held a Lab to develop the second edition of the ‘Future Map.’

Held on October 23, 2021, the Lab followed the success of the MBZMFG Jubilee Lab, which saw 106 ‘Future Makers’ — outstanding university students from around the UAE — meet for the first time in February 2021, with their efforts resulting in the first edition of the Future Map. As a follow up, 100 Future Makers took part in a Future Lab on September 25-26, 2021.

The Ministers taking part in the latest session included H.E Hussain bin Ibrahim Al Hammadi, Minister of Education; H.E Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri, Minister of Economy; H.E Dr Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs); and H.E Ohood bint Khalfan Al Roumi, Minister of State for Government Development and the Future H.E Mohamed Khalifa Al Nuaimi, Director of Education Affairs Office at the Crown Prince Court of Abu Dhabi, also joined the panel.

The Future Map 2.0 set six key themes to be explored; bridging the skills gap between university and the workplace; careers in STEM and concerns for sustainability; promoting entrepreneurial mindsets in UAE youth; acquiring the collaboration skills necessary to unlock radical innovation; future careers at the intersection of digital technology and culture; and the impact of social media on mental health.

Each of the four UAE Ministers discussed with the Future Makers one or more of the themes, expounding on the areas that fell into their respective spheres of responsibility, answering their questions and advising them on the skills they should focus on and the specific areas of knowledge they should enhance to pursue their chosen career path.

H.E Hussain Al Hammadi, Minister of Education, had been involved since the first generation of the Future Map, and joined the Lab on October 23 to discuss ways to bridge the skills gap between university and the workplace. H.E outlined two types of skills young people need to focus on: hard skills and computer skills. Hard skills, such as literacy in Arabic and English enable youth to efficiently communicate and analyse, H.E asserted, urging the young participants to develop their computer skills, be more agile and innovative, and always be learning in a rapidly evolving world.

“In addition to basic skills and competencies, our youth need to learn how to continue developing and adapting to their changing environment,” H.E. Al Hammadi noted. “This calls for a set of personal qualities, foremost among which is flexibility and adaptability. These skills are critical for future leaders to ensure sustainability and prosperity in a rapidly evolving world, along with critical thinking and creative problem solving.”

“To be creative and stand out, lifelong learning and the continuous upgrading of skills are essential. Education is not only about acquiring knowledge, but also about developing skills and constantly enhancing them. These traits are key for future leaders to drive continuous growth and achieve success,” H.E. continued. “Technology has allowed learners to overcome the constraints of time and place, easily acquire knowledge and skills, and customise them to suit their needs and circumstances. Aside from technology, social and emotional skills are also needed to establish effective partnerships and receive support. Cooperation and communication skills are indispensable.”

For his part, H.E Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri, Minister of Economy, explained how youth can use collaboration skills to ensure radical innovation, noting that leaders must navigate two mindsets: the founder’s and the CEO’s. The founder has a big-picture mindset, always looking toward the future, whereas the CEO looks at strategy, production lines, and optimising operations. H.E told young participants that in order to co-create as leaders, they must be able to elaborate their vision in different ways, democratise ownership of it, and promote a growth mindset. H.E Al Marri also underlined social capital as an important asset, noting that the average healthy network to maintain is 20-25 people who can think about ideas and get things done.

“Flexibility and adaptability are essential features to ensure access to new horizons of knowledge, innovation, and sustainable economic growth. One of the most important lessons learned from the pandemic is that economies whose institutions, policies, and markets reflect resilience and versatility were the most successful in tackling the challenges brought about by the pandemic to hasten recovery and restore growth,” said H.E. Abdulla bin Touq Al Marri, UAE Minister of Economy.

Meanwhile, H.E Dr Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and SMEs, addressed entrepreneurial skills and mindsets, highlighting the UAE’s approach to developing them. The entrepreneurship mindset must be instilled at a very young age, H.E said, adding that while most school curricula focus on business skills, the entrepreneurship mindset is an out-of-class activity. H.E Al Falasi distinguished between two types of mindsets: ideation and delivery, where someone can come up with a great idea, but when it comes to execution, a different person is needed. The Minister revealed three skills needed to grow and achieve results, first of which is grit and persistence in the face of tough situations. The second skill is adaptability, while the third is resourcefulness and ability to do more with less.

“Entrepreneurship education plays a vital role in supporting the UAE’s aspirations to become an innovation hub and we strive to foster a strong academic culture in the UAE, where creative thinking is inspired and nurtured. We believe that the Emirati youth are capable of adding new dimensions to the UAE’s economic diversification efforts and sustainable growth journey by exploring entrepreneurship based on technological advancements and sectors of the future. In line with the national agenda to build capabilities, enhance skills and invest in youth energy, the Ministry of Economy continues to launch tailored initiatives and programs to prepare our youth to lead the UAE’s growth journey from the forefront,” said H.E. Dr Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and SMEs.

“The pace of development that a relatively young nation such as the UAE has achieved is something other countries take decades or longer to accomplish,” H.E. added. “We strive to prepare young Emiratis to get on to the world stage and demonstrate that the UAE economy’s foundations are built on the pillars of science, knowledge, innovation, and sustainability. Forums such as these make significant contributions to our efforts in this regard.”

H.E Ohood Bint Khalfan Al Roumi, Minister of Government Development and the Future, who had previously contributed to the Future Map, elaborated on ways to use communication skills to enhance collaboration. H.E outlined five transformational trends that will disrupt our lives, starting with digital transformation, which will make it necessary for regulations and policies to be digital-ready and, in turn, make digital skills indispensable. Second is automation, which will create demand for skills like empathy, resilience, complex problem solving, critical thinking, and collaboration. Third is the on-demand workforce, which is growing in popularity with future generations and will require tailored policies like a global nomad visa or easier procurement and banking procedures. The fourth trend is workplace transformation and remote working, followed by upskilling and reskilling, which calls for a shake-up of the education and training systems.

On her part, Her Excellency reaffirmed the UAE leadership’s vision towards the future. She said that the UAE Government work model under the leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai, relies primarily on youth, innovators, and creative thinkers who will actively participate in designing and shaping the future, she added.

H.E. Al Roumi applauded the Mohamed bin Zayed Majlis for Future Generations’ (MBZMFG) initiatives that strive to fulfil the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to empower younger generations and engage them to determine trends and build a better future.

H.E. explained that the world is undergoing rapid developments, driven by five transformational trends disrupting lives, namely, digital transformation, automation, on-demand workforce, workplace transformation and remote working, as well as upskilling and reskilling. She added that these trends are key components of the new roadmap for the future. They support the UAE’s 10 principles for the next 50 years, which focus on investing in human capital and enhancing the UAE’s digital, technological, and scientific excellence, further cementing its international standing in terms of development and the economy.

His Excellency Mohamed Khalifa Al Nuaimi, Director of the Education Affairs Office at the Crown Prince Court of Abu Dhabi said, “The only constant is change, as the saying goes, and this has perhaps never been as true as it is in this age of rapid technological advancements and the Fourth Industrial Revolution – especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“With that in mind, we know for certain that the old ways will simply not work. An entirely new approach is needed if we want to generate innovative solutions that are capable of addressing the challenges of tomorrow. New skills and capabilities must be imparted onto the youth in the UAE to empower them to take the lead in an uncertain and increasingly complicated world.”

“The youth play a central role in all future plans; the UAE leadership has always placed young people at the heart of all development strategies,” H.E continued. “MBZMFG is the ultimate platform to explore their ideas and aspirations for the future, and guide and empower them to turn them into concrete projects that can fuel the UAE’s ambitious plans for the next 50 years.”

MBZMFG and its Labs challenge young participants to set objectives and plans for the next 50 years, inspired by the UAE’s track record of success.

Future Lab Boilerplate:

In February 2021, Future Makers-exemplary university students of the UAE and UAE leaders co-created the first edition of the Future Map, a networked visualization of issues youth identified as the most relevant to the UAE in the next 50 years. On September 25 and 26, as the UAE prepares to welcome the world at Expo 2020 Dubai, a larger and more diverse group of Future Makers met again to add a new layer to the Future Map — one that moves beyond Ideas, to Next Steps. Guided by highly experienced facilitators, Future Lab participants emerged with a clear picture of the skills and capabilities they will need to lead in a complex world. The resulting Future Map featured a youth centric vision for navigating the challenges, opportunities and changes to come.