MBRF explores ESG, future market investments, and the challenges faced by the Arabic language in knowledge transfer at Abu Dhabi International Book Fair

  • 30 May 2022

Dubai, UAE, 29 May 2022, The Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation (MBRF) hosted various panel discussions and seminars centered around its knowledge initiatives at the 31st edition of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair. The events explored the future investment landscape, sustainability in the private sector, and the challenges faced by the Arabic language in knowledge transfer.

Official delegations from various government agencies and institutions, in addition to many renowned figures, visited the foundation’s pavilion to learn more about its knowledge initiatives and projects. Most prominent among these initiatives was the Digital Knowledge Hub- an open Arabic platform that includes 1.7 million digital items and provides solutions for building digital libraries and sharing content with universities, schools, and government institutions.


MBRF, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) organized two sessions as part of its KnowTalks series. The first session, entitled ‘Revolutionizing Sustainability in the Private Sector: From CSR to ESG’ discussed the importance of adopting environmental and social governance (ESG) practices in the private sector. The session was moderated by Stéphanie Boustany, Program Analyst at UNDP, with the participation of Ivano Iannelli, Senior Consultant, Sustainability at Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA​).

Iannelli began the discussion with a presentation showcasing the importance of implementing clear and concise ESG standards by private sector companies in light of current global challenges. Iannelli stated that it is not enough for companies to take sustainability into consideration by promoting it through stickers on their products or running promotional campaigns; they must also make effective efforts and show integrity and flexibility, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic which has forced us to face and adapt to many changes through new and unprecedented methods.

Iannelli also pointed out that companies must adhere to government plans and comply with the timeline set in the 2015 Paris Agreement, adding that they should facilitate strategic collaborations with other sectors to reduce their carbon footprint. This can be achieved through balanced methods that take adequate resource management into consideration. He further pointed to the lack of collaboration among the international community as a major cause for increased natural disasters. Noting the severe storms in Eastern Asia and the Middle East, Iannelli warned that the situation would only get worse in the coming years.

He added: “The Paris Agreement has set the foundation to lead governments and the private sector down the right path, alongside other commitments such as the European Green Deal, which aims to have all institutions comply with sustainable and social standards.”

Iannelli further emphasized the importance of companies operating with more transparency when it comes to issuing data related to the implementation of the ESG standards, and the periodical evaluation of those standards through sustainability reports. Iannelli explained that these reports point out key weaknesses and showcase a company’s compatibility with the new directives. He added that the current systems do not match the goals in place, companies require more encouragement to take this step and work towards building the future that we dream of.

He said: “Technology plays an important role in supporting ESG transformations. It also creates more opportunities for change and paves the way for achieving net-zero emissions. Fields such as engineering, legal, and advanced digital economy services are all futuristic technical skills that are required to achieve these transformations.”

The second KnowTalks discussion panel, entitled ‘The New Investment Landscape: Investing in Crises’, was presented by Sara Modalal Al-Qahtani, Head of Middle East at Mercury Capital Advisors, who discussed the future of investment.

At the beginning of the panel, Al Qahtani spoke about the status of global markets before the Covid-19 pandemic, noting that the markets were at the peak of their growth, enjoying prosperity with promising prospects and many positive signs of digital transformation. She mentioned that with the spread of the epidemic globally, the markets quickly lost 30 per cent of their value. She pointed out how the suspension of travel and trade, as well as the continued bad news, had devastating effects on the global economy.

Al Qahtani explained that technology companies were the biggest beneficiary of this crisis as they continue to achieve great leaps in their growth. She highlighted that the companies that were able to keep pace with digital transformation before the pandemic could move forward. Artificial intelligence, digital systems and emerging and modern technologies are among the most prominent new investment projects, as they can guarantee 30 per cent of global food production during epidemics and provide innovative solutions to logistical and supply chain challenges.

Al Qahtani pointed out that it is necessary to support investments that make the world better, such as the manufacture of electric cars and green hydrogen extraction, the promotion of energy sources and green energy, as well as the consolidation of financial opportunities by enabling these projects. She added that there are ample opportunities for investment during times of crisis.

Knowledge Lounge 

As part of the Knowledge Lounge- an initiative launched by the Foundation to instill the culture of reading in daily life, several panel discussions were held. Renowned writer Ray Abdulaal held a panel entitled ‘Our Children and the Visible Image Acquisitions’, and a panel entitled ‘Knowledge shifts in the Arabian Gulf’ was held with the participation of Dr. Hassan Madan, moderated by Rola Al Banna.

A panel entitled "The City and the Man in Cairo Maquette" was organized with the participation of writer Tariq Al Imam, and the interview was moderated by Safia Al-Shehhi.

Dubai International Program for Writing

The Dubai International Writing Program, which aims to encourage and empower young talents who have the gift of writing in various fields of knowledge, launched a workshop entitled ‘Writers of Tomorrow... The UAE after 50 years.’ A ceremony was held to launch books completed in the ‘Short Story 2020’ workshop.

Bil Arabi Initiative

In light of the ‘Bil Arabi’ initiative aimed at supporting, preserving and encouraging the use of the Arabic language, the Foundation organized a panel discussion entitled ‘Digital solutions to support the Arabic language and their impact on the development of the knowledge society.’ The session was carried out with the participation of Dr. Khaled Abdulfattah- a consultant for digital and cognitive solutions in the Foundation, and Dr. Imad Abdel Aziz, a consultant in the field of studies at the Sharjah Documentation and Archives Authority, and moderated by Professor Hussein Darwish.

The speakers discussed the peculiarity of the Arabic language in terms of structural and cognitive characteristics compared to other languages, and its flexibility and ability to assimilate many terms and vocabulary over the years. They pointed out that despite this, there was a scarcity in the digital Arabic content, which constitutes only 3 percent of all global digital content, compared to English content, which represents 50 percent of all digital content.

The speakers attributed the scarcity of digital Arabic content to the digital transformation tools invented in Western countries being dedicated to solely supporting the English language, which led to a delay of about 20 years for these tools to be able to process the Arabic language.

They further confirmed the importance of adopting one cultural policy to support the Arabic language digitally and to benefit from the intellectual and knowledge heritage it provides. They emphasized the need to consolidate its globalization, especially formal Arabic. In this context, they applauded the role of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation through its various initiatives, including the Dubai International Program for Writing, the ‘Bil Arabi’ initiative, and the digital knowledge center that provides Arabic content for free, without restrictions.