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The 7 Excellences of Global Innovators

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They are Innovative, Integrative, Intelligent, Imaginative, Multi-Cultural, Multi National and Multi Lingual. The dreams of tomorrow beckon, the world holds abundant opportunities for those who keep moving forward. World class “Hepta Entrepreneurs” never stand still.

They have the innate ability to move with speed and agility, vision and desire, and the will to get the job done. These young, and sometimes not so young disruptors, innovators and entrepreneurs represent the best of our and the next generation.

Heptas are engaging bright stars, creative and hardworking, impatient to change the world. They bring their passion, smarts and energy to startups and family businesses by making their mark and gaining credibility across diverse sectors.

As progression is vital for enduring success, risks and obstacles may abound. Change can often be disruptive, yet the future belongs to those who keep striving towards the next horizon- the iGeneration of Hepta Entrepreneurs. There are many ways to move forward, but only one way to standstill.The future is partly influenced by the past, but more importantly, it is shaped by the actions of today. As Albert Einstein once said that “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.

Well, today’s “Hepta Entrepreneurs”as I call them, will never have to worry about such stagnation. They are innovative, integrative, intelligent, imaginative, multi-cultural, multi-national and multi-lingual; they have it all. Type A personality is usually an understatement for this population; Type AAA, the energizer bunny on steroids with the attention span of a flickering light bulb, is a much more fitting description. They spend almost all their time in front of the computer attending to concurrent conversations on Google chat in multiple languages, answering 10 incoming emails with attachments needing immediate attention, they answer their Blackberry while texting and ordering pizza on the IPhone. Oh, let’s not forget, they still manage to follow BBC’s breaking world news on the large screen TV while keeping an eye on the stock market picture in picture, all while listening to the latest Shakira CD and chewing gum. Welcome to the world of todays’ multitasking hepta innovators!

Hepta entrepreneurs are behind some of the world’s best companies, big or small, as they can pioneer new industries, disrupt others, design superior products and services, and bring them to market faster and at lower cost. As CEOs and entrepreneurs they have to propel their companies from one stage of growth to another, from startup to profit, or small enterprise to big business, create opportunities out of their imagination and realize their dreams through tenacity and hard work..They have to lead with clarity and vision to achieve enduring success and take their companies from one stage of growth to another, expand across borders and diversify into new business lines. Some CEOs adopt the entrepreneurial attitude of being a ‘perennial startup’ to stay ever nimble, agile and poised for growth. They know how to keep customers and employees happy, raise funding, manage capital and keep their investors satisfied.

Today’s hot hepta entrepreneurs can be identified by “7” distinct characteristics essential to a companies future success. And, oddly enough, since Ancient times, in Greek mythology, the number seven “hepta” held a very special meaning. There were Seven Wise Men, Seven Sages, Seven Against Thebes, the Pleiades were Seven Sisters, there are Seven Liberal Arts and Seven Wonders of the World denoting beauty and prosperity. Christianity mentions the number Seven countless times in the Bible, Rome was built on Seven Hills, the Seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, Seven Sacraments, Seventh day of rest, Noah’s 7 laws, Geneses 7:2 , Jericho, Seventh year, Seven years for love and Seven Days to solve a Riddle. Judaism has the Seven branched Menorah, Seven days of Sukkot, Seven Hakafot, Seven weeks Shavuot, sitting Shiva Seven days and there are Seven Blessings being recited at a Jewish wedding. In Islam there are 7 verses in the first sura, the book of Revelations talks about Seven Stars and Seven lampstands, Seven spirits of God, Seven thunders, Seventh angel of the Apocalypse.

Hepta entrepreneurs evolve from one success to the next helping policymakers to keep raising their countries’ global competitiveness. Their attitudes energize companies, recalibrate their growth engines to create new value, revitalize their culture and performance. These people move at the speed of light, are highly educated, intelligent, culturally savvy, flexible, innovative world citizen forming the backbone of successful global companies. They transcend international borders, master cultural norms and easily overcome language barriers as most of them have been raised at least in a bi-lingual environment.

This iGeneration is emerged in the technological revolution, driven by ambition, fierce competitiveness and search for Uber-prosperity. They easily establish cross-functional working relationships, maintain long distance communication, overcome stranger anxiety as their main modus operandi is behind an impersonal computer screen allowing for and encouraging unconventional language use. They thrive on task complexity, excel under pressure, perform at their peak in stressful situations and experience an endorphin rush only parallel to that of a climber conquering a high mountain peak during stormy weather. For the most part these emerging leaders were brought up in heterogeneous cultures, are multi -lingual which facilitated the development of a filter by which to view and understand the world around them. The hepta’s core is a multifaceted, filled with contradictions, built around their experiences with conflict, alternate belief systems and new ways of behaving in foreign environments.

Hepta entrepreneurs will never relate to bygone phenomena such as typewriters, doing research using a library and microfiche, listen to LPs, making phone calls using an airport payphones, waiting for the mailman to deliver hand written letters or using a floppy disk. Elephant size computers housed in big underground basements, hotels offered courtesy type writers in their small business centers and satellite phones could be seen when Captain Kirk communicated with Mr. Spock in Star Trek are viewed in a rather nostalgic light by this generation. For them “Beam me up Scotty” is occurring in the present, yesterday’s utopia has become today’s reality.

This population excels by breaking the rules over and over again and causing disruption in order to achieve measurable results essential to meeting management challenges faced by today’s global leaders: transition, change, difference and adaptation. What’s more, hepta entrepreneurs develop these abilities so subtly and naturally that many don’t even know they have them.Significantly, none of these qualities described below requires an international context in which to use them.

These seven characteristics combine to yield the “iGeneration”, the hepta’s identity, pivotal to your organizational success:

Innovation – Heptas see change as normal. They combine the scientific, positivistic, rationalistic, technocratic world of the industrial paradigm and get into the intuitive, creative, open, diverse, global world of the postindustrial paradigm. Example: “The Internet of Things” which is a way of saying that more of the world will become part of their network. They are able to assimilate the world into the computer. It’s just more and more computers. Product companies compete by building ever bigger factories to turn out ever cheaper widgets. But a very different sort of economics comes into play when those widgets start to communicate. It’s called the network effect—when each new user of a product makes its value higher. Let’s take Cisco Systems as an example. According to the MIT Review ( July/August 2014) Cisco Systems has been enthusiastically predicting that 50 billion “things” could be connected to communications networks within six years, up from around 10 billion mobile phones and PCs today . Or think of the telephone a century ago. The greater the number of people who used Bell’s invention, the more valuable it became to all of them. The telephone became a platform for countless new businesses its inventor never imagined.” For heptas connecting, adapting and expanding the Internet of Things comes naturally as they leave behind the clockwork, mechanical, piecemeal, linear, quantitative world of Newton and get into the fluid, ambiguous, androgynous, qualitative world of the 21st century.

Integration & Invention – As outsiders to fixed cultural rules, hepta innovators rely on creative thinking as they reinvent themselves and experiment with new identities. Chaos and complexity theories, quantum physics, and open systems are in ; strategic management, Newtonian physics, and closed systems are out. These may seem queer, but get used to them. Example: In many cases they work with models which have not been established, taking for guaranteed that computers the size of a pinhead which collect data inside the brain and transmit it through the skull will join the internet network, brining healthcare to whole different level.

Intelligence ( Contextual and Emotional IQ) -Heptas are experts at the subtle and emotional aspects of transition, adjusting mental models, learning to differentiate between universal principles and their specific embodiments, and being open to new ideas. They influence multidirectional relationships, using persuasion, rational strategies, political analysis, creating metaphors and using myths and rituals. They are apt at appealing to emotional attachments, friendships, connectedness, relationships, to the higher ground–ethical/moral stands and to communitarian ideas, the commons, public good, organizational culture. imagination- Heptas entrepreneurs easily learn and use new ways of thinking. They are the ones who come up with a smart coffee pot, a refrigerator with a Web browser or a $78 digital “egg minder” that reports to a smartphone which egg in a refrigerator is oldest. So many gray hairs avoided by never having to worry about my eggs again!

Multi /Lingual, Multi/Cultural, Multi/ National, Multi Tasking. Heptas are at least bi-lingual or tri-lingual, multi- cultural & multi-national and multi taskig. They have lived in different countries and are familiar with many cultures. Because globalization enables breakthrough ideas to come from every corner of the world, they are able to change where and how the world does business. While until now they might have been a source of low-cost skilled labor in emerging markets is moderating.

Multilingualism at the workplace constitutes a major asset for companies and supports their international competitiveness. Even though it can be a Janus-faced phenomenon, entailing several problematic points, it is up to management commitment and involvement to prevent and counter these problems. Language skills and cultures might differ in multilingual work environments, however mutual respect and shared values can overcome linguistic and intercultural differences.

I predict that connecting ordinary objects like ovens to the Internet will trigger new platforms and that hepta entrepreneurs will be the leaders of tomorrow forming and transforming this platform, necessary for cutting edge performance to each company. Due to the fact that they are born to question, break rules and used to paradigm shifts, they will not simply rest at the standards, the connections. Instead they will also address add value, allowing for a recombination of features in ways that the original designer cannot anticipate. Heptas will be instrumental in developing tomorrow’s Internet of things which is similar to the functions of the iPhone encompassing hundreds of thousands of apps that Apple never even conceived of as they do not have a difficult time with new mental models. They will help companies compete and add incredible value by introducing new features to products, add new communities or network effects. In turn, organizations must learn how to hire and augment their workforce with efficient hepta innovators.

Emerging countries are creating their own rising stars and these fast-growing companies are changing the competitive landscape. Global and multinational companies have to assess the promise of emerging markets in current economic cycles, changes in the marketplace and policy environments. So, without a doubt, organizations will be challenged and potentially leap frogged if they do not hire hepta innovators and entrepreneurs.

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Financial Bubbles in the Coronavirus Era

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There is reason to believe that the coronavirus will not be going anywhere soon. What is more, IMF experts warn that problems that existed before the pandemic will only worsen in the coming decades. One of these problems is the state of the global financial market, which is more susceptible to all kinds of financial bubbles than ever before.

When we talk about financial bubbles, we usually mean a sharp increase in the value of assets in an economic climate that has either stagnated or started to deteriorate. A similar situation is currently unfolding on the American stock market, which is experiencing an extraordinary rise in the value of hi-tech companies against the background of a record drop in GDP (by over 30 per cent in the second quarter of 2020) and a projected budget deficit (−15.5 per cent). This rise has been caused by three factors: 1) a soft monetary policy as a result of the need to service the rapidly growing public and corporate debt; 2) the huge liquid resources at the disposal of legal entities and individuals that are frantically looking for ways to make a profitable investment in anticipation of the increased risks and systemic uncertainties brought about by COVID-19; and 3) the speculative excitement caused by the technologies of the fourth industrial revolution. In order for us to judge how likely the optimistic sentiments of the global financial markets are to change, let us consider the impact of these factors separately.

The Debt as it Stands

A key element of the “new abnormality” that has characterized both the development of the global economy as a whole and the U.S. economy, in particular, is the debt model of economic growth. Investment and business activity has stagnated as interest rates around the world are hovering around zero, while the U.S. dollar (a key reserve currency) stubbornly refuses to depreciate and has even strengthened its value on the forex markets on a number of occasions, despite the fact that the situation at home is worsening. For example, U.S. national debt increased by $4 trillion in the first nine months of 2020, from $22.7 to $26.7 trillion. This is the largest increase in U.S. national debt ever. A considerable amount of this debt is financed through the extraordinary growth of the U.S. stock market, which currently accounts for over half of the combined capitalization of the world’s stock markets. A correction on the stock market (caused by an increase in interest rates, for example) could trigger numerous defaults on debt obligations. According to Fitch Ratings, more defaults were announced in the first five months of 2020 than in the whole of 2019 and may reach record numbers by the end of the year (the current record holder is 2009). And more than half of all corporate defaults around the world have occurred in North America.

Let us recall that the value of financial assets dropped by $50 trillion during the 2008–2009 crisis. However, central banks and the fiscal authorities compensated for these losses by injecting roughly the same amount of liquidity into the market. But the newly created financial resources did not jolt consumer demand, as had been hoped. Rather, they were largely swallowed up by various segments of the global financial market. International portfolio investments alone more than doubled in 2008–2019 – by $35 trillion.

The history of capitalism is not short on examples where the state tried to solve debt problems at the expense of the market, leading to the creation of financial pyramids. In 1720, for example, two giant financial bubbles burst at almost the same time in Europe. In an effort to clear themselves of the massive debts they had accumulated during the War of the Spanish Succession, the governments of France and England encouraged the growth of cash in circulation. This money was pumped into equity securities of Mississippi Company in France and the South Sea Company in England, which were joint-stock companies created with backing from their respective governments. The companies promised their investors huge profits that would come from overseas territories. The proceeds from the sale of shares were used to buy back government debt instruments. The stock market bubbles that appeared in France and Great Britain were the result of the governments trying to rid themselves of their excessive debt burdens and to stimulate their respective economies through inflation and debt-equity swaps. In a way, the current excitement on the U.S. stock market is reminiscent of the situation three hundred years ago.

A New Digital Bubble?

As of late September 2020, the four largest companies in the world by market capitalization were American digital brands: the computer giants Apple and Microsoft and the internet companies Amazon and Alphabet (Google). The total market capitalization of these companies has more than doubled this year to over $6 trillion. “Pessimists” believe that the U.S. over-the-counter (OTC) market is currently experiencing another boom similar to the dot-com bubble that burst in 2000. Meanwhile, “optimists” point to the huge success of FAANG stocks, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google, as justification for the current market explosion. Shares in these companies outperformed the market throughout the 2010s, and prices have soared against the background of the pandemic. They currently make up 23 per cent of the total capitalization of the U.S. S&P 500 Index.

The growth in the market value of these companies is directly related to the activities of private and institutional investors around the world, who invest their savings in banks and various investment funds with their highly developed infrastructure in order to receive guaranteed profits. A number of retail investors have given an additional impulse to the dynamics of the OTC market by purchasing shares in newly created companies in the digital economy that have connected to free trading platforms such as Robinhood.

At the same time, the “optimists” believe that the comparisons with the dot-com bubble of 2000 are not entirely appropriate. A number of arguments support this claim: 1) the ratio between the market value of shares and the total annual profit is lower – 26.9 in September 2020 versus 45.8 in March 2000; 2) companies in the digital economy turn in real profits, as opposed to expected future returns; and 3) Nasdaq OTC hi-tech growth rates are more moderate – 23 per cent per year on average, compared to 43 per cent per year in the seven years before the tech bubble burst in 2000.

The dynamics of the market on the eve of the financial crisis in 2008–2009 were also characterized by an “irrational euphoria” similar to what we are seeing today. Back then, in the depths of the crisis, the G20 introduced a supranational financial monitoring system that was designed to prevent destabilizing spikes and falls in asset prices. However, experience has taught us that regulation cannot keep up with market innovation and is perennially unprepared for new challenges, primarily the digitalization of the global economy.

Technology and Politics

Historically, financial bubbles have tended to form whenever new revolutionary technologies have appeared, be it the invention of railways, electricity, automobiles, etc. Many new technologies have appeared during the Fourth Industrial Revolution (from smartphones and 3D printers to blockchain technologies and artificial intelligence) that have led to the mass automation of business processes and, consequently, the loss of jobs for a large part of the workforce, thus reducing production and operating costs significantly.

At the same time, we have not seen galloping inflation as a natural market reaction during this global crisis (all other things being equal) to the cheap money policy that has dominated the past decade. On the one hand, prices have been kept in check by the pandemic, which has pushed households and companies to hold onto their savings and made consumption more difficult due to the partial blocking of the economy. On the other hand, in the present context, a sizeable portion of the newly created liquidity is immediately swallowed up by the stock market, the U.S. stock market in particular, which continues to grow thanks to the advance funding of new technologies that are being developed at a fantastic pace. Exactly how long such a model can survive depends on at least three factors: 1) whether or not the soft monetary policy of near-zero or negative interest rates pursued by central banks will continue; 2) the ability of the market to adapt to new technological transformations; and 3) the smooth running of the international monetary system based on the U.S. dollar.

As for the latter, its functioning largely depends on the political system in the United States, and on the results of the November presidential elections in particular. One of three things will likely happen after that: 1) the current configuration of the global financial system will remain in place, with a few minor alterations here and there; 2) the existing system will undergo a major upheaval; and 3) the global financial system as we know it will collapse and a new model will take its place.

If the first scenario plays out, then the world economy will most likely continue to function in the same institutional format that we know today. If the second scenario prevails, then the radical reform of the existing system of global institutions could give the RIC countries (Russia, India and China) the bargaining power to insist on more favourable conditions for their integration into the world economy (for example, by moving away from reliance on the U.S. dollar in international transactions, promoting the use of their national currencies more actively, re-evaluating their positions within the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank alongside their partners in BRICS in order to effectively obtain a collective veto power, etc.). The third scenario would make it possible to create regional monetary and financial systems (as full-fledged independent financial structures of the emerging multipolar world) on the basis of various regional financial institutions that already exist, increasing the role of national currencies in mutual settlements and international financial instruments (or through the creation of new international liquidity in the form of national collective settlement monetary units).

Where Does Russia Stand amid the Global Turbulence?

The Russian economy demonstrated greater resilience during the first wave of the coronavirus crisis than the economies of both developed countries and the economies of its partners in BRICS. Despite the sharp decline in world prices for carbon fuel (Russia’s main export), in terms of key macroeconomic indicators, Russia has managed to maintain more stable positions than the G7 countries. As a result, the IMF predicts that Russia will have the lowest budget deficit among the world’s major economies by the end of 2020 (−4.8 per cent), with relatively low unemployment (4.9 per cent).

The Russian Federation is, in a sense, protected from financial bubbles as (unlike the United States) as it is more focused on developing the real sector of the economy rather than the financial sector. At the same time, the main problem of Russia’s integration into the global economy is the lack of stabilizing mechanisms to counter the volatile and hard-to-predict elements of the global financial market. We are talking here about the lack of a reserve currency, something that many countries use to protect themselves against external shocks, especially during periods of global crisis, when the demand for reserve assets rises sharply. Let us consider the following example. Russia has been a net creditor in the global financial system for years. As of year-end 2019, Russia’s external financial assets exceeded its external financial liabilities by $358 billion. Meanwhile, its investment income balance amounted to −$50 billion. This lop-sidedness is down to the fact that Russia places its international reserves in low-yield foreign assets and serves its foreign financial liabilities at higher interest rates. What this means is that the Russian Federation has been subsidizing those countries that issue reserve currencies for years while not always receiving adequate compensation and now living in economic isolation in the form of economic sanctions. In this context, Russia urgently needs to create its own reserve currency similar to the transferable rouble that the Soviet Union used in its trade with the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance in 1964–1990 and which existed long before other collective currencies (such as the special drawing rights, the European Currency Unit and the euro) were developed. This mechanism removed a number of inconsistencies at the regional level (the problem of imbalances in particular) that we are now seeing in connection with the use of the U.S. dollar as a means of carrying out international settlements, loans and investments around the world.

An oft-cited report by Goldman Sachs predicts that Brazil, Russia, India and China (the BRIC countries) will all be among the world’s top five economies by 2050 and, tellingly, the stock market is not the main source of financial resources for any of them. A common problem for the BRIC countries is the need to develop the enormous potential of their domestic markets by implementing large-scale infrastructure projects. A kind of dual system of monetary circulation whereby foreign trade is carried out using monetary units of account could help make this happen. Such a model would make it possible to separate the intrinsic value of money (its purchasing power) from its extrinsic value (its exchange rate). This is necessary to prevent newly created value (through the financial market) flowing from regions with low productivity to regions with high productivity. This is precisely what is happening in the Eurozone, and it is deepening the structural imbalances in the single European market. In addition, such a system would help resolve the issue of creating international liquidity without the need to move the national currency out of circulation to form unproductive national reserves or carry out speculative transactions.

Conclusion

The global economy has fallen into the trap of “new abnormality,” where incessantly creating money does not solve pressing socioeconomic problems. Other countries are following in the footsteps of the United States, repeating its domestic policy. This has resulted in the further deepening of social inequalities and imbalances at the national and global levels. Bearing in mind the fact that the United States’ share of global gross domestic product has been falling over the past 20 years, it is entirely possible that the U.S. dollar may be used less frequently in international transactions, even though the exchange rate proves favourable from time to time. To make matters worse, the unusual reaction of the markets to the monetary policy of the Federal Reserve System, along with the growing political tension in the United States, increases the risk of the destabilization of the current financial system. It should be stressed here that global economic leadership has always been tied to the leading countries consolidating their positions in both the economic and financial spheres. Clearly, we have reached the point where the only thing that will help stabilize the world economy in the long term is the more active involvement of the BRICS countries in the functioning of the global financial system.

From our partner RIAC

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Innovative ideas and investment opportunities needed to ensure a strong post-COVID recovery

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After the huge success of its opening day, AIM Digital, the first digital edition of the Annual Investment Meeting, continued to gain momentum as it reached Day 2. The three-day mega digital event, an initiative of the Ministry fo Economy, under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, concluded its second day with interactive activities that catalysed investment-generation, knowledge-enhancement, and local, regional and international collaborations.

Joined by more than 15K participants from over 170 countries, including 70+ high-level dignitaries from across the globe, the second day of AIM Dıgital witnessed a wide range of major events, from the Conference, Exhibition, Investment Roundtables, and Regional Focus sessions to Conglomerate Presentations and Startups competitions; all geared towards providing opportunities to achieve a digital, sustainable & resilient future.

In his keynote speech in the FDI session, Ministers Roundtable: Adapting to the New Flow of Trade and Investment, His Excellency Dr. Thani Al Zeyoudi, the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade, said: “It is my distinct honor to welcome you to the UAE’s first-ever digital edition of the Annual Investment Meeting. Thank you to everyone participating, including our panelists from the Governments of Costa Rica, Canada, Nigeria and Russia. Today’s discussion on how countries are ensuring the free flow of trade and investment could not be more timely, especially as the world grapples with the economic recovery and moves toward building a more resilient, post-COVID economy. The pandemic has significantly impacted global markets that created new challenges for trade and investment. While the challenges ahead are enormous, the UAE sees tremendous opportunity for governments and business leaders to work together through trade and investment to reshape policies, create new partnerships, leverage new technologies, and build a future global economy that is more diverse, inclusive, and sustainable. We know that FDI can bring new technology and know-how, lead to new jobs and growth, and is often the largest source of finance for economies – making today’s discussion even more imperative.”

He further stated that FDI has played a critical role in the UAE’s economic growth, with policies and measures in place, such as the Foreign Direct Investment Law enacted in 2018 to further open the UAE market to investors in certain sectors, and the issuance of Positive List, which allows for greater foreign investment across 122 activities, and increasingthe UAE’s FDI value by 32% in 2019.  He also mentioned that the UAE came in 16th of 190 countries in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business 2020 Ranking due to the country’s digitization strategies and promising business regulatory environment.

His Excellency Al Zeyoudi furthered: “The UAE is continuing to refine and implement policies that will maximize competitiveness, increase collaboration, and provide opportunities to facilitate trade and investment. Our aim is to become the #1 country for foreign investment, target zero contribution from oil to our GDP in the next 50 years, and support research, development, and innovation. The UAE’s trade and investment strategy is centered on economic diversification and focuses on enhanced investment in industries such as communications, Blockchain, artificial intelligence, robotics, and genetics. We are also initiating measures to strengthen our position as a regional leader in supplying financial and logistical services, infrastructure, energy supplies, and other services.”

He added: “The UAE believes that increased partnership and cooperation with governments and the private sector will be key to achieving our objectives. We view platforms such as the Annual Investment Meeting as instrumental in bridging the gap between nations and supporting global efforts to strengthen international trade and investment. Through this platform, we hope that participants will uncover new, innovative ideas and investment opportunities needed to build back better and ensure a strong post-COVID recovery.”

Furthermore, world-class speakers shared their viewpoints in Day 2 of the Conference highlighting Foreign Direct Investment, Foreign Portfolio Investment, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, Startups, Future Cities, and One Belt, One Road, including H.E. Amb. Mariam Yalwaji Katagum, Minister of State, Federal Ministry of Industry Trade and Investment of The Federal Republic of Nigeria; Victoria Hernández Mora, Ministry of Economy, Industry and Commerce of Republic of Costa Rica; Hon. Victor Fedeli,  Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade of Ontario, Canada; and Sergey Cheremin, Minister of Moscow City Government Head of Department for External Economic and International Relations, among others.

Two Investment Roundtables were also held successfully at the second day of AIM Digital, concluding  with strategies to facilitate sustainable, smart and scalable investments. The Energy Roundtable was led by Laszlo Varro, the Chief Economist of International Energy Agency, which works with countries around the globe to structure energy policies towards a secure and sustainable future. Among the notable participants include H.E. Arifin Tasrif,  Minister for Energy & Mineral Resources of the Republic of Indonesia; and H.E. Gabriel Obiang, the Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons of Equatorial Guinea. The Agriculture Roundtable was led by Islamic Development Bank Group, the multilateral development bank working to promote social and economic development in Member countries and Muslim communities worldwide, delivering impact at scale.

In addition, the second set of National Winners competed on Day 2 of the AIM Global National Champions League. Overall,  a total of 65 countries competed at this international startups competition. The top five global champions that will win a total prize of USD50,000 will be announced on the last day of AIM Digital.The competition was launched in a bid to help startups in maximizing their potential to attract funding and promote their business ideas to a global audience, getting utmost exposure and expanding their network.

Participating in the Conglomerate Presentation feature of AIM Digital is Elsewedy Electric led by Eng. Ahmed Elsewedy, its President and CEO. Elsewedy Electric began as a manufacturer of electrical components in Egypt 80 years ago, and Electric has evolved into a global provider of energy, digital and infrastructure solutions with a turnover of EGP 46.6 billion in 2019, operating in five key business sectors, namely Wire & Cable, Electrical Products, Engineering & Construction, Smart Infrastructure and Infrastructure Investments. As part of its commitment to sustainability, it has established green energy and smart metering projects across Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

The Regional Focus Sessions featured the regions of Asia and Latin America and explored the risks, challenges and opportunities for growth and regional cooperation.  Regional Focus Session on Asia brought together government officials and investment authorities from the ASEAN Member States and discussed their strategies to create a borderless and sustainable bloc that will push organic growth, as well as their approaches to gain resilience in the economy. Regional Focus Session on Latin America highlighted the significance of regional and international partnerships to combat the current pandemic and boost trade, investments and employment within the region.

Moreover, Country Presentations on Day 2 presented the outstanding features and investment opportunities in Colombia, Egypt and the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia which highlighted the countries’ status as attractive investment destinations.

Another highly anticipated event in the largest virtual gathering of the global investment community is the announcement of winners for the Investment Awards and Future Cities Awards which will take place on Day 3 of AIM Digital.AIM Investment Awards will grant recognition to the world’s best Investment Promotion Agencies and the best FDI projects in each region of the globe that have contributed to the economic growth and development of their markets.   Likewise, AIM Future Cities Awards will give tribute to the best smart city solutions providers and for outstanding projects that have resulted to enhanced operational efficiency and productivity, sustainability, and economic growth.

Day 1 of AIM Dıgital welcomed the presence of globally renowned personalities such as the UAE Minister of Economy, His Excellency Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri who emphasised the vision of UAE’s wise leadership for the post-COVID era, reflecting great significance to enhancing the readiness of the country’s government sector, raising efficiencies and performance at the federal and local levels. Keynote remarks were delivered by H.E. Juri Ratas, the Prime Minister of Republic of Estonia; H.E. Rustam Minnikhanov, the President of the Republic of Tatarstan; H.E. Dr. Bandar M. H. Hajjar, the President of Islamic Development Bank Group (IsDB Group); H.E. Mohammed Ali Al Shorafa Al Hammadi, the Chairman of Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED); and Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, the Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

The UAE Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and SMEs, His Excellency Dr. Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, underlined in his Keynote Address for the SME Pillar, that it is crucial for Startups and SMEs to be given opportunities to bounce back from the impact of pandemic and provide a conducive environment that will empower them to have the capability of supporting growth and success.

The Global Leaders Debate featured prominent keynote debaters such as Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP); Mohamed Alabbar, the Founder of Emaar Properties, Alabbar Enterprises and Noon.com; Mohammad Abdullah Abunayyan, the Chairman of ACWA Power; and Arkady Dvorkovich, the Chairman of Skolkovo Foundation, who discussed the strategies to restructure the economies in overcoming the consequences of the pandemic.

The first digital edition of the Annual Investment Meeting with the theme “Reimagining Economies: The Move Towards a Digital, Sustainable and Resilient Future, will be held until the 22nd of October 2020.

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Economy

H.E. Dr. Thani Al Zeyoudi: Our aim is to become the #1 country for foreign investment

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It is my distinct honor to welcome you to the UAE’s first-ever digital edition of the Annual Investment Meeting. Thank you to everyone participating, including our panelists from the Governments of Costa Rica, Canada, Nigeria and Russia. Today’s discussion on how countries are ensuring the free flow of trade and investment could not be more timely, especially as the world grapples with the economic recovery and moves toward building a more resilient, post-COVID economy.

As you know, the pandemic has significantly impacted global markets, creating new challenges for trade and investment. According to the United Nations’2020World Investment Report, global FDI flows are estimated to decrease by up to 40% this year, dropping well below their value of $1.54 trillion in 2019. This would bring global FDI below $1 trillion for the first time since 2005. Global FDI flows are expected to decline even further in 2021, by 5% to 10%, and only in 2022 do we expect to start seeing markets recover.

While the challenges ahead are enormous, the UAE sees tremendous opportunity for governments and business leaders to work together through trade and investment to reshape policies, create new partnerships, leverage new technologies, and build a future global economy that is more diverse, inclusive, and sustainable. We know that FDI can bring new technology and know-how, lead to new jobs and growth, and is often the largest source of finance for economies – making today’s discussion even more imperative.

For the UAE, FDI has played a critical role in our economic growth. In 2019, the UAE was the largest recipient of FDI in the region, largely due to our increased focus over the years on enhancing local conditions to attract FDI. With policies and measures in place, such as our Foreign Direct Investment Law enacted in 2018 to further open the UAE market to investors in certain sectors, and the issuance of our Positive List, which allows for greater foreign investment across 122 activities, the UAE was able to increase our FDI value by 32% in 2019. The UAE also came in 16th of 190 countries in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business 2020 Ranking due to our digitization strategies and promising business regulatory environment.

The UAE is continuing to refine and implement policies that will maximize competitiveness, increase collaboration, and provide opportunities to facilitate trade and investment. Our aim is to become the #1 country for foreign investment, target zero contribution from oil to our GDP in the next 50 years, and support research, development, and innovation. The UAE’s trade and investment strategy is centered on economic diversification and focuses on enhanced investment in industries such as communications, Blockchain, artificial intelligence, robotics, and genetics. We are also initiating measures to strengthen our position as a regional leader in supplying financial and logistical services, infrastructure, energy supplies, and other services.

The UAE believes that increased partnership and cooperation with governments and the private sector will be key to achieving our objectives. We view platforms such as the Annual Investment Meeting as instrumental in bridging the gap between nations and supporting global efforts to strengthen international trade and investment. Through this platform, we hope that participants will uncover new, innovative ideas and investment opportunities needed to build back better and ensure a strong post-COVID recovery.

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