Dialogue: Taha Haseeb
“Emirates Thinkers” is a pioneering national project, launched on January 4, 2022 at Expo 2020 Dubai, by the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research; With the aim of supporting Emirati thinkers and researchers, through a single platform that represents a forum for their intellectual contributions, highlighting their societal role, enhancing the soft power of the United Arab Emirates, supplementing the Emirati decision-making process with the studies and research of Emirati thinkers and academics, and enhancing the presence and intellectual output of the Emirati thinker and researcher at the local, regional and global levels.
Dr. Sultan Muhammad Al Nuaimi, Director General of the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research, says: Our wise leadership has always emphasized the importance of science and investment in the human element. One capable of highlighting what the Emirati thought has achieved and its contributions in various fields. Dr. Sultan Muhammad Al Nuaimi praised Al Ittihad’s support for the “Emirates Thinkers” project, noting that through this support the newspaper continues to achieve its mission in motivating creators and thinkers to contribute positively to the UAE’s development process and actively participate in serving the nation’s causes. Al-Ittihad met with the Director General of the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research and asked a set of questions to introduce the project, its objectives and its hoped role. In the following lines, the text of the conversation:
■ First, it is necessary to define the practical objectives of the project and the vision from which it is based? Can the project be described as “a bank of experts whose currency is knowledge and its fixed assets are scientists and thinkers, and its clients are all those who have a passion for scientific research and systematic analysis of reality”?
■ ■ Sultan Al Nuaimi replied: We proceed in the project from a vision based on an influential Emirati elite, and our main asset in it is the UAE’s thinkers, and we invest in their intellectual production, which is already an asset to the UAE at home and abroad. The initiative seeks, through the materials it publishes, to contribute to the formation of a deeper awareness and a more accurate understanding of the issues that occupy the UAE in various fields, and to enrich the discussion about its possible paths and future prospects. by the state.
■ The project is a great motivator for young people to pay attention to the importance of scientific research. How do you see the role of the project in raising a generation aware of the role of thinkers in developing the industry of the future?
■ ■ Al Nuaimi explained: The “Emirates Thinkers” project represents a platform capable of achieving communication between UAE thinkers with expertise in specialized research fields, facilitating young researchers’ access to these experiences and interacting with the ideas and visions presented by their owners, which will pave the way for a new generation of qualified researchers and enhance and refine their expertise, allowing them to provide their research and intellectual contributions that support the development plans of the UAE, especially with the platform covering broad areas of interest, including politics, economics, sociology, technology, literature, history, philosophy, religions, scientific and technical achievements and other fields of knowledge.
■ The launch of the “Emirates Thinkers” project shortly after the UAE celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the Union, bearing a strong message entitled “Human First and Last”.. How do you read the implications of the timing of the project’s launch?
■ ■ Al-Nuaimi replied: If the fiftieth celebrations represent pride in the fifty years ago, and the preparation for the coming fifty years, then the “Emirates Thinkers” project is essentially a project with a future outlook, armed with intellectual output and enhancing and supporting future plans that cover various areas of development. The human being is the focus of the project; Because it depends on the intellectual product of generations of Emiratis who have had opportunities for high scientific qualification, and are fully ready to look at the issues of their society from the angle of science and knowledge capable of absorbing and dismantling them and providing complete visions about their future paths, and practical alternatives to deal with them.
■ Also, the place of the project’s announcement has a strong message. From “Expo”, where the slogan (Connecting Minds..Making the Future) was launched as a project that celebrates the minds of the people of the nation. What is your comment on the indications of the starting place?
■ ■ Al-Nuaimi stressed that the mental image of the “Expo” is linked to the future, innovations, inventions and ideas that are expected to contribute to defining the image of the world’s future. The logo of the “Expo” for this session accurately reflects the UAE, and completely coincides with the “Emirates Thinkers” project; Because it will create a space for communication between minds that gather to create the future by understanding reality and anticipating potential changes based on clear scientific criteria, the results of which are embodied in the meticulous implementation of development plans, and preparation in advance for any changes that may occur.
■ In the scientific press, terminology is usually controlled and defined without exaggeration or leniency, and in the “Emirates Thinkers” project, it is necessary to define who the Emirati thinker is… Are there specific and objective criteria approved by the Center and those in charge of the project to determine who is the thinker?
■ ■ Al-Nuaimi answered: The future is our destination, and we are not only thinking of today’s thinkers who have completed their experience and have already presented their scientific achievement, which puts them in the position of the “thinker” in its prevailing definition. Rather, we aspire to prepare a generation of “thinkers of tomorrow”; Therefore, the field is open for the participation of promising young people who have taken some steps in the field of completing their intellectual projects, and even recent graduates who possess the scientific capabilities and passion for knowledge, which makes them candidates to be “future thinkers”. Our ambition is to benefit from these different generations, and to provide the opportunity for the transfer and exchange of experiences.
■ Talking about thinkers full of great ambitions and endless horizons for analysis, development and innovation, how do you explain to the community the main tracks of effort for the project and the main issues on its priority agenda?
■ ■ Al Nuaimi explained that the project aspires to attract Emirati minds capable of giving, including thinkers, writers, and those with distinguished professional experiences, and those involved in the research field or those who are coming to it from young people, so that the project will be a platform for communication between its contributors, and an arena for enhancing and developing the research capabilities of young people, In order to provide solid outputs and distinguished intellectual participations that contribute to enriching the Emirati intellectual content, serving the nation’s interest, and serving its development paths.
■ Does the project include a clear mechanism for interacting with the priorities of the current stage in line with national strategies and society’s aspirations?
■ ■ Al-Nuaimi pointed out that the project in itself, with the presence of this crowd of thinkers, experts and promising youth, and their intellectual contributions, can pave the way for many institutions to achieve direct communication with this intellectual and research elite, and benefit from their capabilities in a way that contributes to Raising the efficiency of work in these institutions, and maximizing the chances of achieving their goals. Such a development will happen automatically, meaning that the presence of the platform in itself will increase the possibilities of interaction and open new ways for it.
■ Will the project be limited to a group of Emirati academics, or will it be open to experts from outside the academic corps to benefit from the outcome of their expertise in all fields?
■ ■ Al-Nuaimi replied: The contributions will not be limited to academics, for sure. The project is available for a wide spectrum that can make qualitative contributions based on scientific grounds, and this is not limited to academics, but includes those with practical experience in various fields of work who will present their visions from the reality of their experiences, and the youth who have Innovative ideas or express views on issues that affect them, achievers and successful experiences, qualitative creative and artistic achievers, and even young graduates who provide materials that meet the required scientific standards and add to the public debate good opinions and ideas
■ Thinkers in any country have always been a source of its soft power. To what extent can the “UAE Thinkers” project become a tributary to the soft power of the Emirates, especially since the ideas emanating from the people of the Emirates will take on the characteristics of the Emirates in tolerance, coexistence, openness and innovation through thinking outside the box and the determination of the impossible?
■ ■ Al-Nuaimi said: We believe that the project really adds to the soft power of the state, by highlighting the large number of state people who are able to create sober scientific dialogues on various issues that concern society and contribute to shaping the features of the future. The quality of the issues will also paint a clear picture of the UAE society’s priorities, concerns, intellectual values and achievements in various fields. This intellectual platform will enhance the UAE’s great balance of soft power and reveal a new face of its distinction.
■ In the Emirates, the media finds itself facing the challenges of monitoring, keeping up with and providing a distinguished news service. Do you think that the “Emirates Thinkers” project will enhance the role of enlightening media with qualitative knowledge content through which the audience will be exposed to research products rich in details and positive visions?
■ ■ The project will undoubtedly contribute to providing the media in the country with original and serious content, and intellectual contributions that express the UAE, which will enhance opportunities for interest in and respond to it in various ways, including stimulating new pens to contribute to the debate on the same level of discipline and depth, and setting frameworks A methodology for active and effective community dialogue on its issues in a way that achieves broader community participation in shaping the features of the present and the future.
■ Is it possible in the near future to rely on the “Emirates Thinkers” project to provide an advisory role in certain files of interest to UAE society, as it is a platform for experts and specialists in all fields?
■ ■ Al-Nuaimi noted that the platform and its experts, academics and researchers in a very wide range of disciplines facilitate the implementation of tasks such as providing consultations and other possible aspects of cooperation, in light of the platform’s focus on national priorities, and the visions and ideas it contains. It will make it easier for national institutions to reach specialists and experts, and to more accurately identify areas of cooperation that they look forward to with them, based on the opinions, ideas and plans they present on the platform.
■ We move locally and think globally – a statement implemented by the “Emirates Thinkers” project by activating the Emirati intellectual output in one platform. Are the project’s contributions varied to address, in addition to local concerns, other global issues?
■ ■ Al-Nuaimi stressed that with the great diversity in the specializations of experts, academics, researchers and young people for whom the platform opens its doors, and the multiplicity of their areas of expertise, the global issue will necessarily be present. in places far from it. The involvement of the UAE in global affairs increases the importance of following what is happening in the world. Hence, it can be said that the interests of the platform will necessarily be comprehensive, but it will start from a national perspective that focuses on the effects of developments, phenomena and events on the UAE.