Home » WGS 2024: Dawoud Al Hajri underscores key axes influencing ‘Cities of Opportunity’, role of youth in shaping future
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WGS 2024: Dawoud Al Hajri underscores key axes influencing ‘Cities of Opportunity’, role of youth in shaping future

DUBAI, 14th February, 2024 (WAM) — Dawoud Al Hajri, Director General of Dubai Municipality, reviewed the key axes of Cities of Opportunity and how they serve as the foundation for shaping future cities, in his keynote speech during the ‘Cities of Opportunity’ session at the World Governments Summit (WGS) 2024, held in Dubai.

Al Hajri emphasised how governments and local authorities are committed to building a better future for coming generations, regardless of their background or origin. Citing the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, he observed that cities that have succeeded in capitalising on transformative opportunities are the ones leading today’s global landscape, and how the fundamental duty of governments is to present such opportunities that foster the development of individuals.


Speaking about examples of opportunities, Al Hajri stated, “Globally, opportunities and governments’ abilities to differentiate them are different. The capacity to recognise these opportunities is one of the primary abilities that leaders and governments need to possess. This way, numerous cities have managed to turn enormous obstacles into disruptive breakthroughs and success stories, serving as an inspiration to communities worldwide.”

He cited the COVID-19 pandemic as an illustration of how people around the globe recognised a problem and transformed this challenge into new opportunities that fuelled economic growth. This facilitated the development of technical infrastructure in all fields, such as business, government, education, and health, to equip cities operationally and technologically for any challenges that may arise in the future.

“Several cities have acknowledged the significance of youth and the opportunity they have to shape the future and propel development. There can be no sustained development of societies without active collaboration with the youth as they hold the key to future and innovation. They have set ambitious goals for their development and to weave their successes through an effective government agenda. Today, as His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, says, we have 200 million Arab youths, which is 200 million times the positive energy,” Al Hajri added.

Cities of Opportunity Framework

During his speech, Al Hajri discussed the five-pillar framework for Cities of Opportunity, which are knowledge economy and technology, culture and society, environment, planning and accessibility, and infrastructure. These pillars serve as the main axes and foundations for cities to recognise possibilities and accelerate their progress. He went on to highlight AI technologies as a recent example that impacted the world a year ago. With its market value approaching US$200 billion at present, AI has grown in prominence in several fields. As a result, over 60 per cent of government decisions are expected to be based on AI technologies by 2030, with a projected value of US$1.9 trillion.

Dubai: The City of Opportunities

Al Hajri proceeded to discuss Dubai’s reputation as a city that seizes opportunities and highlighted the initiatives taken by the nation to make them available to all residents. Dubai’s growth has been hailed as a success story that inspires people worldwide to seize opportunities as they present themselves. This transformation is largely due to the visionary leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who pioneered transformative initiatives and opened doors to possibilities.

“One nation that stands out when talking about how opportunities shape the story of urban development is the UAE, which was established 52 years ago. Once a vast desert, our nation – dubbed the ‘miracle country’ – has grown to become one of the most developed in the world today. The late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum and late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, have been the catalysts for this change. Their visionary leadership transformed dreams into reality, which the people of the UAE enjoy today,” Al Hajri stated.

“The exceptional accomplishments of the union were made possible by the founding fathers’ ability to transform their goal of unification into a reality. Today, the UAE government ranks among the most effective bodies in the world, owing to its visionary leadership. With the successful Emirates Mars Mission, the country also embraced space exploration and fulfilled the aspirations of its youth, all of which have contributed to the country’s promising future,” His he further added.

The session saw Al Hajri provide a glimpse of the ideas and vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum beginning with the inception of Emirates airline. This venture was an example of how dreams could become substantial business opportunities, with the company standing as the largest air carrier in the world today.

“Our visionary leaders established Dubai Internet City at a time when the Internet had not yet received widespread attention or consideration. With this endeavour, the largest Information and Communication Technology (ICT) community in the region was formed. His Highness also oversaw the establishment of the Dubai Media City, enhancing Dubai’s standing as a major hub for media operations both locally and internationally. Additionally, through the establishment of the Dubai International Financial Centre, His Highness created a crucial financial services link between the region and international markets, once again elevating our country’s standing as a dynamic hub of progress,” Al Hajri added.

Dubai Municipality and Innovative Opportunities

Al Hajri elaborated on Dubai Municipality’s strategy for leveraging artificial intelligence solutions and incorporating them into various aspects of municipal work. This goal is consistent with its vision of becoming a leading municipality within a globally renowned city, dedicated to driving innovation and sustainability, as well as overall quality of life as a whole.

Al Hajri stated, “Governments constantly must deal with high resident expectations and work hard to meet these rapidly changing demands. Considering this, Dubai Municipality has adopted a proactive stance by using artificial intelligence technologies for urban planning, such as (Urbanist AI). These tools assist planners in generating solutions tailored to urban environments, thereby facilitating accurate changes and advancements, along with significant savings in time and costs.”

Further discussing the different opportunities for development in cities, Al Hajri explained, “Waste management still remains a challenge for cities all over the world even today. Dubai Municipality, on the other hand, views it as a significant economic opportunity. Using the biggest waste treatment and energy conversion facility on the planet, we have leveraged waste to help light 135,000 residential buildings across the Emirate of Dubai. This facility uses cutting-edge technologies, such as artificial intelligence systems that further boost operational efficiency.”

Sewage plants treat more than 360 million cubic metres of wastewater each year. Al Hajri emphasised the efforts being made by the Dubai Municipality to take advantage of this resource to launch its innovative ‘Green Dubai’ program. With the help of recycled water from the Dubai Municipality nursery, the municipality has successfully planted over 700,000 trees in the last five years. This AI-enabled nursery also allows for the production of 90 million seedlings per year.

Dubai Municipality’s participation in the WGS 2024 successfully highlighted Dubai’s efforts to drive innovation and changes that further improve quality of life. These efforts have transformed the Emirate’s image, from nightlife experiences to coastlines to bustling commercial hubs, cementing Dubai’s status as a city of the future.

Source: MSN