The UAE has climbed seven places over two years to rank 18th in the Global Knowledge Index, it was revealed at the Knowledge Summit 2019 in Dubai on Tuesday.
The UAE also ranked first in ‘knowledge competitiveness’ and second globally in ‘economy’ under the ‘sectoral indices’ of the overall index.
This year’s index of 136 countries was topped by Switzerland, with Finland coming second and the US third.
The summit’s opening ceremony also revealed plans to launch the ‘Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum University for Knowledge and Sustainable Development’, described as the world’s first university of its kind.
Tuesday’s ceremony, at Dubai World Trade Centre, honoured winners of the ‘Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Award Knowledge Award’, presented by Shaikh Ahmad Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, chairman of Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation (MBRF).
In the award’s corporate category, the winner was petroleum giant Saudi Aramco. The government category winner was National Institute of Education, Singapore; and the individual category winner was Henrik Von Scheel, described as the “originator of the 4th Industrial Revolution” (Industry 4.0).
MBRF and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which jointly produce the index, have renewed their decade-long partnership for another 10 years, the ceremony heard. The summit also launched the second edition of ‘The Future of Knowledge: A Foresight Report 2019’.
Addressing the ceremony, Jamal Bin Huwaireb, CEO of MBRF, said the two reports “provide a roadmap for all societies” towards sustainable development, which was the focus of this year’s summit, held under the slogan ‘Knowledge for Sustainable Development’.
Sustainability – progress without destroying the human and natural environment – under today’s prevailing circumstances “is not an easy matter”, he said.
“It is a long journey, one that needs global efforts to face such challenges [of widespread technological disruption]. We need the mechanism to lead to the correct results, and that requires intensive work. We need meaningful gatherings, like this summit of global experts and decision-makers, for a clear vision of a sustainable future,” Bin Huwaireb added.
The index is the only one in the world “that measures knowledge on a global level”, said Mourad Wahba, UNDP acting associate administrator and regional director of Arab states, and also deputy special representative of the UN secretary-general.
Wahba announced plans for “a pioneering new report”, to be launched from Dubai, enabling policy makers to make decisions based on the power of Big Data, the technology used to reveal patterns and useful information from a volume of data too vast and complex for humans or even conventional computers.
He said digital disruption necessitates such a report to anticipate the future, which seems to shift closer with every technological breakthrough.
“We are all today awed by discussions outlining the potential of artificial intelligence, cyber security, biotechnology, blockchain, to make the world a better place,” Wahba added.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution, he said, creates opportunities but also “challenges for business and society that are distinct from previous industrial revolutions, given its intensity, speed and scope”.
Automation because of artificial intelligence and robots could see 75 per cent of existing job profiles disappear in the future, a video played at the ceremony said.