700 future-gazers talk robots and revolutions at World Economic Forum in Dubai

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Participants attend the session ‘People and Mobility in 2030’ at the World Economic Forum meeting in Dubai on Saturday. (WEF/ Benedikt von Loebell)
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Mohammed Abdulla Al-Gergawi, UAE Minister of Cabinet Affairs and the Future, said that disruptive technologies could be a force for good despite the challenges they sometimes represent. (Photo courtesy social media)
Updated 22 January 2018
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700 future-gazers talk robots and revolutions at World Economic Forum in Dubai

DUBAI: More than 700 “experts of the future’ will lay out their vision of what the world may look like in 2030 today, as a key World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting begins in Dubai.
The annual meeting of the global future councils sets the agenda for the big WEF gathering that takes place in the Swiss town of Davos in January.
It comes as Gulf economies, including the UAE and Saudi Arabia, race to invest in disruptive technologies such as robotics, artificial intelligence and blockchain, to position themselves in anticipation of what WEF-goers know as the coming “fourth industrial revolution.”
“We are looking for the answers to the question of the future,” said Mohammed Abdulla Al-Gergawi, UAE Minister of Cabinet Affairs and the Future, at the opening of the event, which he also co-chairs.
Gulf states are seeking to add high value jobs in new technologies as they emerge from decades of dependence on generating income from selling oil.
Such revenues are increasingly under threat – both from cheaper sources of shale oil and gas that have become easier to extract – as well as investments in new forms of renewable energy that is weighing on demand for heating oil and gasoline worldwide.
The region is also grappling with the paradox of finding work for a rapidly growing and youthful population – whose job prospects are being threatened by many of the disruptive technologies in which some Gulf economies have become key investors.
Al-Gergawi told the opening of the meeting in Dubai today that such changes could be a force for good despite the challenges they sometimes represent.
“Amid the changes that are taking place, changes that affect us all as global citizens, we should be able to turn them into opportunities,” he said.
“Successful countries have been able to transform that to positive change in vital areas.”
The event is taking place against a backdrop of mounting regional tension, with a political crisis unfolding in Lebanon, an ongoing boycott of Qatar by four of its regional neighbors and a crackdown on corruption in Saudi Arabia that has seen the arrest of several prominent businesspeople.
The WEF gathering in Dubai will compile work from more than 30 individual working groups that will be thrashed out at the group’s Davos meeting – the theme of which will be “Creating a shared future in a fractured world.”


Moody’s raises GDP growth forecasts for Saudi Arabian economy

Updated 28 min 52 sec ago
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Moody’s raises GDP growth forecasts for Saudi Arabian economy

LONDON: Moody’s has raised Saudi Arabia’s GDP growth forecast for 2018 to 2.5 percent from 1.3 percent as it maintains a “stable outlook” for the Saudi economy.
The ratings agency also increased its 2019 GDP forecast to 2.7 percent, well above the 1.5 percent previously predicted, the Kingdom’s Ministry of Finance said.
Moody’s numbers exceed the forecasts of the Saudi Arabian government for the 2019 budget announced in September.
The Moody’s report released on Wednesday maintained the Kingdom’s A1 rating.
The agency expects higher oil production to boost the economy, but also said developments in the non-oil sector will contribute to stronger GDP growth in the medium and long-term.
Moody’s said the Saudi government deficit for the 2018 and 2019 will hover between 3.5 percent and 3.6 percent, a far cry from its previous expectations of 5.8 percent and 5.2 percent.
Moody’s commended Saudi Arabia’s reasonable control of expenditure, even in the face of higher oil revenues.
“In addition to the moderate funding requirements, the government is able to access ample sources of liquidity, from both domestic or international capital markets and financial reserves. It is unlikely to face problems in financing the fiscal deficit,” the report said.
Last week, the IMF lifted its projections for economic growth in Saudi Arabia saying the Kingdom’s economy is expected to grow by 2.2 percent in 2018 and 2.4 percent next year, raising previous projections by 0.5 percent.