Opening Remarks in the Seventh ADSD

Dr. Ebtesam al-Ketbi | 09 Nov 2020

Ladies and gentlemen,

Asalam alaykom wa rahmat Allah wa barakatoh,

First of all, I would like to welcome all of you to the 7th Abu Dhabi Strategic Debate (ADSD), which is organized virtually this year pursuant to the rules related to COVID-19 pandemic. I would like to express my gratitude for speakers who accepted to speak in ADSD’s panels. I would also like to express my gratitude for the ladies and gentlemen who are going to follow up the debates’ panels over three days.

Ladies and gentlemen,

2020 has exposed new fault-lines, forged new relationships, and unravelled new potentials. The COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S presidential election, and the signing of the UAE-Israeli treaty have created new dynamics that will have a decisive role in shaping the features of the future of the global and regional orders. For this reason, these factors-engines will be the predominant focus of the 7th ADSD.

The world is embarking upon a period of uncertainty. The events of this year have proved that the political dynamic is on shaky terrain, which means that the need to adapt to interrelated circumstances is paramount.

Geo-politically, the decline of the unipolar world order has led to a return of great power competition as part of unique contexts and facts. Despite the need to proactively react to this environment with innovation and fortitude, global institutions have been fraught with indecision and losing sight of the bigger picture.

Given the fault lines exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is becoming increasingly evident that the political economy is not necessarily the foundation or even the tool to shape society. The underpinnings of organised life are not restricted to phenomena that can be easily interpreted and explained. We live in a world of “hyper-reality” characterised by simulation – images, spectacles, and the interpretation of signs have come to replace concepts of production. The information field and data realm are the sources of the new power.

On the other hand, the Abraham Accords and the Emirati-Israeli peace treaty have been decisive evidence that resilience and vitality are key elements of response to challenges. In order to overcome these challenges/crises and resolve intractable conflicts in Middle Eastern countries and societies, there is a need for an innovative, brave, political and moral vision that contributes to peace-building, stability and hope for the people in the region. The Middle East remains the ideal environment for this hyper-reality where we can feel the interactions of history, geography and struggle of identities and perceptions; and where the impacts of pandemics, displacement and deprivation can be felt; and where visions of a better future and stability in the region extremely vary.    

 The UAE has realized that it has to take a brave decision based on political rationality to overcome the stalemate in which all chronic regional conflicts are going through. Therefore, the UAE has decided to present a new model for the possibility of building bridges among regional powers in a new perspective, thus leading to this treaty.

The U.S latest elections have been further evidence that international politics is governed by shifts, distribution and trends of power of the US and the world in general as they reflect on U.S foreign policy and its strategic interactions. Even though these recent elections highlighted the acute polarization and ideological and ethnic divisions inside the U.S community, they have shown at the same time how dynamic this community is and how capable it is to make changes to its trajectories while adhering in the meanwhile to the inclusive national model as the melting pot of its people.  The challenge, however, is the ability of the U.S leadership and people to renew the U.S power.

The UAE has always been a U.S dependable geostrategic partner even at the worst of times such as the shock of 9/11 attacks. The announcement of the strategic dialogue between the U.S and the UAE last month is seen as a qualitative leap in framing and institutionalizing relations between the two parties. What really matters to the UAE is that the new U.S administration can approach regional security and all chronic conflicts with a vision that can avoid all the controversies that have characterized the U.S strategy in the Middle East over the past two decades.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Since its inception, the Emirates Policy Center has been a home to cutting-edge strategic analysis and insight. EPC, as an internationally renowned think-tank, is committed to nurturing the best minds and help key stakeholders, decision-makers, and the public to appreciate global and regional trends that will shape our futures.

In this year’s edition, ADSD has brought together the most renowned global thinkers and policy makers to develop a strategic agenda and intellectually engage with our most pressing and new challenges and issues.

By holding this momentous occasion, EPC assumes its vital position in the global map of Think-Tanks. ADSD is considered to be the most significant strategic dialogue platform locally and regionally. In the 2018 global think tank index report released by the University of Pennsylvania, “Abu Dhabi Strategic Debate” (ADSD), has ranked 10th in the top best think tank conference worldwide.

I would like to welcome all speakers in this gathering as well as attendees of discussion panels, wishing you all a new and unique enriching experience of learning.

To conclude, it has been great pleasure for EPC to host every year H.E. Dr. Anwar Gargash, the UAE State Minister for Foreign Affairs, to deliver the keynote speech in this event. We would like to extend to him our special thanks for sharing with us his ideas on main regional crises, evolving security concerns, and more pressing issues and explaining the UAE’s view of global and regional politics.   

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