Saudi Gazette report
MISK Global Forum, the flagship global platform of the Misk Foundation, a non-profit philanthropic foundation established by Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman to empower Saudi youth, on Friday hosted a breakfast discussion in Davos on the theme ‘Disrupt to Stabilize: how youth are shaping a fractured world’.
CNN’s Richard Quest guided the lively and informative discussion among a panel of young entrepreneurs, experienced business leaders, a senior Saudi minister and the audience, which included youth leaders from around the world. They discussed how young people are increasingly disrupting the world and testing and questioning existing structures to overcome challenges. It focused particularly on how they can navigate challenges and prosper amid the rapid technological change that is transforming jobs and economic prospects.
Introducing the packed event, Misk Global Forum Executive Manager, Shaima Hamidaddin, said: “The disruptive attitude of the millennial cohort and Generation Z mirrors the Misk Foundation’s mission of equipping young people with the right skills to embark on careers as yet undefined. The Misk Global Forum takes this mission internationally, meeting the challenge of change by creating partnerships and global exchange that will be vital in preparing us all for the future that is coming over the horizon.
“This event addresses how youth are shaping a fractured world, in which the key challenge is how to enhance the forces of sharing and engagement to further drive innovation and global progress, maintain and encourage trusted sources of information, and mitigate and reduce the potential for misuse and division. This is central to our agenda at the Misk Global Forum.”
Saudi Energy Minister Khalid A. Al-Falih spoke optimistically about the “confluence of globalization, rapid economic development and amazing technology that is enabling people to take forward their careers and lives”. He mentioned that Saudi Arabia is building “bridges over the fractures in economics and politics…not through oil, but through young people — the new energy.”
The minister emphasized the need for the private sector, government and young people themselves to work together and spoke of his hope for the future, saying that “young people are amazingly enterprising and technology savvy and are going to create a better future for themselves and the next generation.”
Leila Hoteit, partner and managing director at The Boston Consulting Group in Dubai, spoke of the importance of engaging with young people more deeply. She noted that the rapid speed of technological advance requires speedier responses from government and the private sector. She also argued that “for youth to care about technology, they need to trust technology” and suggested that there could be a need for “a universal set of values” to assure them that technology will not operate against their interests. Ms Hoteit Emphasized the need for the education system to better reflect the needs of the labor market, equipping young people with skills of “empathy, critical thinking, ICT and lifelong learning.”
Sir Martin Sorrell, founder and CEO of WPP, said that the next generation is “more capable than the older generation” due in part to the access they have to technology. He referenced recent survey work done by his company on the views of Arab youth, which included concerns about unemployment, waning optimism and that
education systems are not doing enough to prepare them for the jobs of the future. Sir Martin noted the challenge that technology is “raising expectations” in less developed countries in an unprecedented way.
Sona Mirzoyan, founder and CEO of start-up SonaSola, said that her generation is “optimistic…willing to cooperate” and that young people “cannot imagine a world without globalization”. She argued that young people are capable of “building on weaknesses and making them strengths” and that they are “purpose driven and not afraid to fight for what we believe in”. Ms Mirzoyan praised the youth of Saudi Arabia, who she said are starting to take up new opportunities. She urged governments around the world to “give youth those opportunities.”
David M. Rubenstein, co-founder and Co-CEO of the Carlyle Group, noted that each generation has said that the next generation is not ready to succeed it, but that “we shouldn’t worry”. He said that Artificial Intelligence is actually “enhanced human intelligence” and will not take away jobs but provide different ones. However, he raised a concern that unlike in the past, the young generation of today must compete globally and needs to be technology literate as well as literate in the traditional sense. He noted his concern that without access to the right kind of education, young people who are not technology literate will be “left behind”.
The highly-engaged audience asked questions about why young voices are not given greater weight by decision makers. Al-Falih pointed to young political leaders around the world, such as the Canadian prime minister, and noted said that Crown Prince Muhammad “thinks like his generation and dreams with his generation”. The minister noted that Misk is creating the tools and the ecosystem to enable youth. The minister also noted his decision as CEO of Saudi Aramco to create a young leaders’ advisory board who explained where the strategy should be for their generation.
The audience included entrepreneur, philanthropist and former musician, will.i.am, who spoke about the “obligation for each of us to protect as many 9-year-olds as you can protect” to ensure that when they are 29 years old they are able to “lead the world”. He noted his frustration that it is easier for him to raise money for Artificial Intelligence than to “educate kids.” He said it is important to give young people a goal and make them “believe that they can solve their own problems with these skill sets.” He spoke optimistically about new technology, saying that “it is a race to the human age.”
The audience included a Misk Foundation delegation of eight young Saudis, including Hamad Al-Draaei, a 23-year-old junior doctor and entrepreneur, who said that he wanted to “reshape” the view that the power is all in hands of the older generation by noting the value of the experience of the older generation, that young people “have the skills to take that [experience] and make it a reality” and that he and his generation want this “enabling environment” to become a reality in Saudi Arabia. Another young Saudi, Lama Al-Ghalib, CEO and Founder of Shababuna, spoke of the need to enable social enterprises to register in the Kingdom so that they can make a profit and also improve society.
The event ended with the moderator, CNN’s Richard Quest, informing the audience that Misk Global Forum’s third annual meeting is being held on November 14-15 in Riyadh. He added that “every time I do a Misk event, it is open, transparent, free flowing and nothing is left off the table.”
Source : Saudi Gazette