Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen. It is a pleasure to join you for the opening of the 2021 Pujiang Innovation Forum. Let me begin by extending the best wishes of the people of UAE and its leadership to the government of the PRC. May I also thank China’s Ministry of Science and Technology, and the Shanghai Municipal’s Government for inviting the UAE as the country of honor to this prestigious event. It is indeed a testment to the close and enduring bond between our two countries. A bond, that will only strengthen in the years ahead, as we deepen our economic, technological and cultural ties.
Ladies and Gentlemen, both our countries understand that innovation is one of the key drivers of progress. In fact, as the world continues to change at an unprecedented pace, as new technologies continue to disrupt the way we live and work, building an ecosystem that stimulates innovation is no longer optional, it is essential for countries to compete, to succeed and to fulfill their economic potential.
In the UAE, we have learned that innovation does not happen in a vacuum, but comes to life when the best minds work together on a single problem. This is why our leadership has always fostered a culture of inclusion that welcomes everyone to make it in The Emirates. And it is why we encourage cooperation beyond our borders, because, together, we are smarter, more agile, and more resilient.
We saw this principle in action when our countries collaborated in a combined response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Vaccines developed in record time in China, were deployed at scale across the UAE to achieve the fastest vaccination rate in the world. This same spirit of collaborative innovation can help us solve other global challenges, like climate change.
Here again, the UAE and China have partnered to innovate, creating the world’s largest single site solar power plant – Noor Abu Dhabi. With 3.2 million solar panels installed across 8 square kilometers, Noor Abu Dhabi will produce 1.2 gigawatts of clean electricity. And our two countries will soon set a new benchmark in the renewable energy space, with the Al Dhafra solar park - which will be almost twice the size of Noor and will set a record low tariff of 1.35 cents per kWh. In short, together, we are proving that when countries collaborate to innovate, costs come down, economic opportunities go up and society benefits.
Distinguished delegates, pushing the boundaries of innovation requires you to be brave, to be bold, and…dare I say it…to be ready to fail on the road to success. This is the spirit that turned a hydrocarbon economy into a center of excellence for renewable and new forms of energy. It is the reason we were able to transform our fishing and pearling villages into world-class logistical hubs that today transport millions of Chinese goods to Africa, Europe and the Americas. It is the vision that allowed the UAE to explore space and send the first probe from our region to Mars. And it is the driving force behind launching the world’s first university dedicated to the pursuit of artificial intelligence-the Mohamed bin Zayed University for AI- that teaches young people from around the world.
As we look to the future, we are refocusing our entire industrial strategy around leveraging the power of breakthrough technologies to build resilience into our core industries and to expand into new knowledge-intensive sectors. And I see numerous opportunities to leverage our partnership for innovation across traditional and emerging industries, in creative and commercially viable ways.
In the energy sector, we should explore the potential of zero-carbon hydrogen, matching our know-how and infrastructure with China’s growing demand for more energy with less carbon. In life sciences, let us build on our experience with Covid to create new medicines and cutting edge treatments that can save lives and create valuable bio- tech businesses. Let us push into agri-tech to develop seeds that can survive arid conditions and sustainable farming methods that can feed a growing global population, while saving water and minimizing environmental impacts.
Ladies and gentlemen…I have talked about creating a culture of innovation by being open to collaboration and going beyond business as usual.
The other critical enablers of innovation are: directing investment into R&D; setting aside capital for commercialization and setting up supportive policy and legal frameworks.
As such, the UAE is re-designing its R&D and Commercialization strategy focused around policies, priorities and coordination, making sure that areas of most promise are incentivized first. In short, we are establishing a more efficient ecosystem to turn ground-breaking ideas into marketable products. And we extend an open invitation to the world to join us on this journey of value creation through innovation.
Fellow Delegates, let us seize this once-in-a-generation moment, capture the promise of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and embed an innovation mindset and entrepreneurial spirit into the next generation – today’s young people, who will become tomorrow’s leaders.
If we are to fulfill our countries’ individual potential, deepening our partnership is crucial. By continuing to work together, we can reinforce the resilience of our economies, improve and protect the lives of our people, and accelerate global progress.
Thank you, I wish this Forum great success.