Knowledge holds a key position in the process of human development. Throughout this process, it has helped improve quality of life, advance societies, and attain sustainable development by making individuals and societies capable of making right and thoughtful decisions. In addition, it has elevated the skills of individuals and communities through education, training, and continuous development, fostering innovation and creativity, encouraging new inventions, and developing scientific, technical, and innovative capabilities in societies. In general terms, knowledge means information and ideas acquired by an individual or society through learning, experience, and rational thought. It is the perception, cognizance, and comprehension of facts. Knowledge is also one of the most vital elements affecting the development of societies and civilizations, as it improves performance, productivity, and the advancement of science and technology.
The Knowledge Summit, an annual event hosted by the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation (MBRF), is the most well-known knowledge gathering in the Arab world and one of the most significant international forums for sharing experience and knowledge. It serves as a global platform for the promotion of initiatives and concepts that advance global awareness-raising and imparting knowledge. The summit brings together key global and regional knowledge actors and thought leaders under one roof to launch various initiatives and projects to transform the Arab region into knowledge communities. The key themes of the summit focus on aspects such as technology, innovation, and education, and it seeks to develop sustainable solutions to address pressing global challenges like climate change, poverty, and sustainability. In addition, it acts as a dynamic platform for participants to share their experience and knowledge and raise awareness about the recent developments in various fields, as well as offering an opportunity for companies, academic institutions, and local governments to exhibit their latest products, services, and technologies.
Over the past few years, the MBRF has organized several editions of the summit. Each year’s summit has witnessed a wide participation of experts and specialists from various fields, where the discussions focused on various relevant topics like education, technology, sustainable development, economics, and pandemics.
Knowledge Summit 2014
The summit, which was founded as an annual conference, eventually transformed into one of the most significant and leading international gatherings, focusing on sharing experiences and conveying knowledge. The Summit offered a dynamic global platform for discussing ways to embed a knowledge-based culture for building sustainable societies and economies and evaluating best practices in the process of knowledge localization. The most notable participants in the debutant edition were Jimmy Wells, founder of Wikipedia, and Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the WWW concept.
Knowledge Summit 2015
The 2015 version of the summit, which was titled ‘The Way to Innovation’ focused on three main themes: education, information technology, and innovation in the media and media industries. The event witnessed a notable turnout of Arab and international dignitaries who were instrumental in enhancing the knowledge world, along with decision-makers, intellectuals, and opinion-makers at the regional and international levels.
This summit signified the key role of knowledge in creating societies, serving as an engine for both social development and growth as well as a key pillar in sustainable economic progress. The most notable participants of the event were Gordon Brown, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple.
Knowledge Summit 2016
In 2016, the summit assessed the governments’ effective progressive experiences and highlighted the expectations for the future of knowledge and related industries following the leadership of the UAE. It also focused on formulating future solutions and developing high-standard applications and practices to mitigate pressing challenges and transform them into worthwhile opportunities. In addition, the summit offered an environment by bringing together renowned professionals and experts from the knowledge industry and aiding in the dissemination of information. The 2016 version also saw the launch of the Arab Reading Index, the first indicator to study and reflect the reality of reading in the Arab world.
Knowledge Summit 2017
Theme of ‘Knowledge and the Fourth Industrial Revolution,’ the 2017 edition focused on the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and its impact on decision-making. Its programs highlighted the dimensions and pillars of 4IR and its remarkable impact on all aspects of life, both socio-economic and cognitive. Additionally, the summit underscored the history of industrial revolutions, their effects on decision-making, and how they are progressing. It also covered the topics of artificial intelligence (AI), the human-robotic future, and the results and accomplishments of 4IR in the areas of media, technology, education, health, and the economy. The prominent participants of the session were Her Excellency Noura Al Kaabi, then Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development of the UAE; Jason Silva, TV presenter and future science speaker; and Dr. David Hanson, creator of the robot ‘Sofia.’
Knowledge Summit 2018
For the 2018 edition, which was held under the theme ‘Youth and the Future of the Knowledge Economy,’ the summit brought together over 100 expert speakers from various fields. It recognized young people for their great influence in society and their role in building the future of the Arab region and the world. The most prominent participants in the summit were Achim Steiner, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); HRH Princess Sumaya bint El Hassan, President of the Royal Scientific Society; Sir Magdi Yacoub, recipient of the British Order of Merit and Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in London; Mishaal Ashemimry, First Saudi-American Aerospace Engineer; and His Excellency Mansour Al-Mansouri, Director-General of the then National Media Council.
Knowledge Summit 2019
The ‘Knowledge Summit’ in 2019 was organized under the theme ‘Knowlwdge .. the Path to Sustainable Development.’ The summit hosted around 120 speakers from across 20 countries in 50 sessions. These interactive sessions discussed a diverse range of topics in the field of sustainable development, primarily issues and challenges concerning energy, education, global partnerships, health, and water. Furthermore, the summit also highlighted the significance of global trade as a catalyst for creating integrated societies, human-centric dynamic economies, and eradicating poverty.
The Summit witnessed the participation of numerous eminent figures – including H.E. Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, Former President of Iceland (1996-2016) and the Chairman of the Arctic Circle Network; Simonetta Di Pippo, Director of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs; H.E. Juan Carlos Varela Rodríguez, Former President of Panama; H.E. Helen Clark, Former Prime Minister of New Zealand and Former Director of the United Nations Development Programme; H.E. Dr. Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer and Board Member of Dubai Cares; Dr. Aisha Al Nuaimi, Head of Solar Energy Research at Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park; and Sara Al Jarman, Director of Public Channels at Dubai Media Incorporated.
Knowledge Summit 2022
In 2022, the ‘Knowledge Summit’ was held under the theme ‘Knowledge: Protecting People and the Planet in the Pandemic,’ at Expo 2020 Dubai, with immense support from both government and private sector organizations in the UAE. The summit saw a wider participation of numerous global experts and eminent speakers from varied disciplines, including health, technology, economy, education, environment, social sciences, and humanity.
With the attendance of a diverse array of experts, leaders, and government officials from around the world, the summit shed light on the most recent and relevant challenges in the fields of health, economy, society, and the environment. Among the prominent participants of this summit are Karam Gabr, Head of the Supreme Council for Media Regulation in Egypt; Ali Jaber, Director of the MBC Channel Group; Ali Obaid Al-Hameli, Director of the News Center at the Dubai Media Incorporation; Abdel Majeed Yahia, Director of the UN World Food Programme and its representative in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries; Maroun Kairouz, Head of the Middle East and North Africa at the World Economic Forum; and Sujit Kumar Muhanty, Chief of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Regional Office for Arab States.
More than 40,000 individuals attended these seven summits in total, with around 673 speakers participating in 350 sessions. The Knowledge Summit targets several strategic goals, which include enhancing awareness of the significance of knowledge in advancing sustainable development, encouraging youth participation in achieving sustainable developmental goals (SDGs), and fostering innovation. Additionally, it also aims to facilitate knowledge exchange, explore several of the latest breakthroughs and innovations across diverse fields, and foster and strengthen international cooperation and strategic partnerships to collectively work towards achieving the SDGs. Through this smmit, the MBRF seeks to achieve various objectives, including paving the way for a knowledge-based economy, channeling efforts to eradicate poverty, and publishing relevant reports that indicate and predict the future of knowledge.
The summit has further fortified its standing as one of the most significant and prominent international gatherings that addresses various relevant topics and facilitates disseminating knowledge, experiences, and success stories. It has been successful in strengthening its role as a leading platform for highlighting ambitious visions and ideas, as well as emphasizing global best practices to devise innovative solutions for various challenges facing the world.
The summit has also reaffirmed its efforts to invest in knowledge by fostering innovation, enhancing human capabilities, and exploring methods to engage youth in the creation, transfer, and localization of knowledge. The summit also unveiled the Global Knowledge Index (GKI), which aims to monitor the state of knowledge throughout the world, highlight the robust correlation between knowledge and development, and identify the strengths and limitations of the nations included in the GKI. Even developed countries utilize the GKI as a measure to assess a nation’s degree of knowledge, which has allowed certain countries to develop knowledge economies.
Knowledge Summit 2023
This year, the Knowledge Summit will be held under the theme ‘Knowledge Cities and the Fifth Industrial Revolution.’ It seeks to address a range of topics, including promoting the significance of knowledge in creating future economies and societies, exploring ways to leverage cutting-edge, modern technologies to enhance overall performances, reinforce cybersecurity, and offer innovative energy solutions. This edition will primarily focus on boosting communication between individuals and digital systems, in addition to placing emphasis on automated facilities, fostering innovation, and driving sustainable development.
Additionally, the session will also highlight the significance of the Fifth Industrial Revolution (5IR) in developing knowledge cities and fifth-generation technology. This is in light of its impact on bringing about a paradigm shift in conventional business models, which will become significant pillars of future economic models.
5IR has resulted in an unparalleled proliferation and adoption of automation and investments in advanced technologies, such as artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things. In light of this, the summit will offer an excellent global platform to discuss this significant revolution. Tech leaders and industrial pioneers recognize the need to strike an ideal balance between humans and machines by steering 5IR toward harmony and collaboration in the realms of work and putting in place legislation and systems to preserve the human touch in cities, services, and work environments.
To fully understand the swift and incremental changes brought about by this revolution, one must have a deeper comprehension and awareness of this development. This is where the summit’s significance lies. The summit leans on brainstorming, sharing expertise, forging alliances, and encouraging teamwork to develop creative solutions that advance mankind toward a more enhanced and inclusive future. It further places a strong emphasis on utilizing cutting-edge technologies to address global challenges and accomplish the SDGs. Furthermore, it also examines current significant trends that serve as the foundation for the equitable and sustainable cities of the future and discusses the critical role that knowledge workers play in creating the knowledge economy.
Organizing knowledge summits is in alignment with the efforts and initiatives that are aimed at supporting the vision of the UAE to empower individuals with knowledge and equip them with future skills. It is also consistent with the country’s efforts to foster innovation, advance sustainable development, and reinforce international cooperation in the fields of science, technology, and education.