Maryam Forum launched at Davos to promote leadership expertise

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The name Maryam was chosen because of its connotations of inclusiveness across several of the world’s leading religious faiths. (File/AFP)
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The name Maryam was chosen because of its connotations of inclusiveness across several of the world’s leading religious faiths. (File/AFP)
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Updated 21 January 2020

Maryam Forum launched at Davos to promote leadership expertise

  • The Maryam Forum will conduct public policy research, with a fellowship program, online leadership courses and private working groups
  • The Maryam Forum was inaugurated at an event in the Swiss Alpine town with the view to “accelerating the kind of leadership the world needs urgently”

DAVOS: A new organization to develop leadership expertise has been launched under the guidance of Arab businessman Khalid Abdulla Jahani on the eve of the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos.

The Maryam Forum was inaugurated at an event in the Swiss Alpine town with the view to “accelerating the kind of leadership the world needs urgently.” It is the product of a partnership between Jahani, former vice-chairman of the WEF’s Arab Business Council, and the London School of Economics’ Institute of Global Affairs.

Prominent advisers to the new organization include Eric Berglof, economic professor at the LSE, and Kishore Mahbubani, the outspoken former dean of the LKY School of Public Policy in Singapore. Also present at the event was Lindiwe Mazibuko, former leader of the opposition in the South African Parliament.

The Maryam Forum will conduct public policy research, with a fellowship program, online leadership courses and private working groups. There will be an annual global event staged in London each December.

Jahani told Arab News: “There is an obvious lack of effective leadership all round the world, and not just in politics or international affairs. You see it also in governments, in business, and even in the home.”

The name Maryam was chosen because of its connotations of inclusiveness across several of the world’s leading religious faiths, he explained.

The Maryam Forum said: “The world faces multiple, urgent and complex challenges on an unprecedented scale. From climate change and oceans to global growth, financial architecture, human mobility and disinformation, courageous leadership is needed to navigate our future.

“For transformative leadership to emerge, we need stronger links between research and policy along with an ecosystem that encourages meritocracy, accountability and inclusion,” the Forum added.

Mahbubani said the world was on the cusp of discarding 200 years of “artificial” leadership by the economic power of Europe and North America. “Western leaders have to adapt to a new global environment. Then rest of the world does not want revenge — it wants to be partners with the West.”

In the course of 2020, Maryam Forum will develop a community of 50 founding individuals who will provide their input to the annual December meeting. Media partners to the December event include the New York Times and Caixin Media of China.


Habtoor joins Israeli tech firm on ‘robo-taxi’ plan 

Updated 23 September 2020

Habtoor joins Israeli tech firm on ‘robo-taxi’ plan 

  • Mobileye technology will be fitted into cars from the Habtoor dealership, which has the Dubai franchise for Mitsubishi
  • Founder of Mobileye Amnon Shashua: Dubai is classic territory to launch technologies for smart cities and a natural for deploying autonomous cars

DUBAI: In the latest sign of increased UAE-Israeli business co-operation, Al Habtoor Group, the Dubai-based hotels and motor conglomerate, has teamed up with a Jerusalem-based company on plans to put “robo-taxis” on the roads of the emirate.

Khalaf Al Habtoor, founding chairman of the group, signed a deal with Mobileye, the Israeli high-tech firm owned by Intel, that will provide the technology for the next generation of self-drive and autonomous vehicles in the UAE.

Mobileye technology will be fitted into cars from the Habtoor dealership, which has the Dubai franchise for Mitsubishi, one of the leading volume car marques in the region, as well as several luxury brands.

Amnon Shashua, the billionaire Israeli founder of Mobileye who sold the company to Intel for $15 billion in 2017, said that by early 2023 there would be a “fleet of autonomous, self-driving robo-taxi vehicles” on the streets of Dubai.

“Dubai is one of the most advanced cities in the world. It is classic territory to launch technologies for smart cities and a natural for deploying autonomous cars,” he added.

Mobileye’s tech provides data for map reading, navigation, traffic and driving conditions in a kit that can be fitted to Habtoor’s fleet, which serves government and public sector transport in Dubai, or can be bought by individual motorists as an add-on package

Al Habtoor said: “This deal will benefit both countries, the UAE and Israel, as well as neighboring countries and Europe.”

Shashua said that while Dubai was a center for growth in the Middle East, he would look to expand into other emirates and countries in the region.

Asked whether Mobileye would like to do business in Saudi Arabia, he said: “We look at things not through a political lens, but from the point of view of areas or territories where we can expand. The only reason we could not expand to Dubai before was the absence of a relationship between Israel and the UAE.

“It is true that Mobileye is owned by Intel, an American company, but still it is very difficult to start sending Israeli engineers in disguise. From a logistic perspective, it is not convenient. I believe there are many more opportunities in the Middle East and, once the ties are made formally, we could expand even further,” he added.

The first phase of the partnership will see 1,000 petrol-engine cars from the Habtoor fleet fitted with Mobileye technology, leading up to trials with a human “safety driver” in early 2022, before a fleet of “smart cars” is launched later that year or early 2023.

The business relationship between Habtoor and Mobileye began before the recent normalization of relations between the UAE and Israel. The Dubai-based company has been among the most enthusiastic advocates of closer business links with Israel, recently signaling it will open a representative office in the Israeli capital.