International Defence Conference.. Al Bawardi calls for collective action to make “future weapons” tools for maintaining peace and security

Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the State, activities of the International Defence Conference 2019, held in Abu Dhabi in the period 14-16 February with the participation of 1200 international specialists and experts, wrapped up today.

In his keynote speech on the activities of the International Defence Conference 2019, His Excellency Mohammed bin Ahmed Al Bawardi, Minister of State for Defence Affairs stressed that the UAE’s openness to all countries and peoples of the world comes from its leadership’s belief in the importance of peaceful coexistence and the values of tolerance, love and peace in order to build the world and human civilization at its best. He referred to the historical meeting that the country recently hosted between the symbols of the Christian and Islamic worlds in modern era, Pope Francis, the Pope of the Catholic Church, and his eminence the Grand Imam, Dr. Ahmed Al Tayyeb, Sheikh of Al Azhar. He also referred to their signing of the most important document of brotherhood, forgiveness and peaceful coexistence between Muslims and Christians.

His Excellency pointed out the distinguished position of the UAE on the international arena, which is evident through hosting the most important international meetings and exhibitions for more than 25 years, the last of which was the World Government Summit in Dubai last week, which set the starting line for forming future governments.

He emphasized that the International Defence Conference in its new form this year comes from the UAE’s leading development and scientific experience and in accordance with its global vision of a secure and prosperous future for the international community. The UAE calls for unifying strategic concepts and visions in light of the fourth industrial revolution emanating mainly from the development of information and digital technology and leading, in turn, to the emergence of unprecedented technological and scientific breakthroughs in all fields. This includes the emergence of artificial intelligence technology, development of defence and security industries, production of fifth-generation weapons and development of concepts of an economy that is based on knowledge and innovation.

His Excellency explained the importance of this conference which aims at providing a global platform that brings together officials, decision-makers and innovative-minded people in scientific, economic and defence industries domains in order to discuss modern technological and scientific topics. It also aims at presenting the UAE's leading experience in the areas of the fourth industrial revolution, artificial intelligence and digital technology. HE pointed out that the goal of this conference lies in contributing to uniting international efforts at a time when the world faces growing security complexities and various defence challenges internationally, regionally and locally.

His Excellency called for collective action in order to build a common future that enhances security and prosperity through the ability to innovate. He pointed out that science and knowledge have become the intellectual capital, the biggest influence in the life of societies, the main determinant of economic growth and production and the true value of the global economy.

He stressed the importance of relying on knowledge and innovation in managing the economy and identifying types, uses and quantities of products in order to correct production, rationalize expenditures and protect the environment, making knowledge and innovation the main pillar of sustainable development.

His Excellency said that the history of human conflict and wars confirms our need today, more than ever, to take the initiative to establish world peace, ensure the security of the international system and protect the future of our future generations. He said that this need is particularly important now that the world has entered a new cycle of qualitative arms race and that many old frameworks of understanding, which had played an important role in preserving the balance of deterrence and establishing global stability for decades, has recently collapsed. Hence arises the need to make an estimate of the seriousness of the situation and the nature of the interrelated threats at all levels and work to develop new understandings that ensure preventing serious conflicts between major powers. HE also said that we need to promote cooperation in order to protect the international community and ensure its collective security, consolidate common interests and invest in building effective deterrence against any actor tempted to threaten human existence, collective security and global stability and disrupt the advancement of development and prosperity.

He added that the rate of change and the volume of development that has occurred in human life over the past century is equal to the volume of development since God created man thousands of years ago. This means that all of us have witnessed unprecedented technological breakthroughs in a short period of our lives, which had a profound impact on the nature and pattern of human life we live. These accelerating technological developments, which forced us to adapt to the variables resulting from them, are determining the features of modern life. Inventions of this era have become the determinants of our needs and our lifestyles, contrary to what we used to know in the past that “the need is the mother of invention”. With every new scientific leap, the pace of technological development accelerates more and more. The adaptation of technological inventions to keep them in the service of humanity and the preservation of human value, not to make them source of his demise, has become a priority.

He added that the digital revolution and information technology have led the fourth industrial revolution, which produced the advances of artificial intelligence, 3D printing, digital currency programs, development of transport and communications technology, fifth-generation weapons products and dual-purpose and multi-purpose products. Knowledge and innovation economy today has replaced market economy. This means that science and knowledge have become the intellectual capital, the greatest influencer in the life of societies, the main determinant of economic growth and production and the true value of the global economy.

His Excellency stressed the need to rely on knowledge and innovation in managing economy, identifying types, uses and quantities of products in order to correct production, rationalize expenditures and protect the environment. This will make knowledge and innovation the main pillar of sustainable development and the main factor in economic balance and in determining the prices of goods, materials, products and services rather than leaving that role to mechanisms of supply and demand that contributed to over-consumption of resources and the exhaustion of many of them without accountability. They even sometimes caused excessiveness and recession in markets. On this basis, the prices of oil resources and energy, which are today the main driver of economy in the foreseeable future, must be based on scientific and calculated grounds, not on supply and demand.

He said that throughout the past decades, the types and spectrum of wars and security threats to countries and societies have varied in terms of their forms and patterns, including traditional wars, limited and unlimited wars, civil wars, asymmetric wars, proxy wars, wars against terrorism and wars of mass destruction. They continue with their forms and effects to present day. As we entered the age of the fourth industrial revolution and the development of artificial-intelligence-based electronic and robotic weapons, fifth generation wars emerged in different forms including electronic, information, cyber and hybrid wars.

He explained that in all cases, the goal of winning wars remains based on breaking the will of the opponent at any cost. Therefore, the wheel of development tells us that the winner in future wars is the one who possesses high speed and high accuracy smart weapons, advanced defensive and offensive capabilities, electronic fighter soldiers and unmanned autonomous combat vehicles carrying deadly ammunition. The winner will not necessarily be the one who possesses more and larger conventional forces and weapons.

At the end of his speech, His Excellency recommended that collective action be taken to turn advanced future weapons into tools for keeping peace and into capabilities for deterring rogue actors seeking to dominate threaten the security and development of mankind and stand in the way of cooperation, progress and prosperity of mankind.

For his part, His Excellency Suhail bin Mohammed Faraj Faris Al Mazrouei, Minister of Energy and Industry, started his speech with welcoming the conference participants and guests from different countries of the world to the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi.

He talked about the importance of small and medium-sized enterprises in supporting countries’ economies, noting that these enterprises represent 95 percent of the number of enterprises in the UAE and approximately 86 percent of the private sector. They contribute 60 percent of the total national income of the country. HE pointing out that the UAE has motivating legislations and laws that make doing business in the UAE easier. The UAE is ranked 11th globally according to the Global Ease of Doing Business Index.

His Excellency added that non-oil dependent national income sources represent about two thirds of the total source of income, which would not have happened without proper planning and a long-term future vision. He indicated that the Ministry of Energy and Industry is working to issue the UAE industry strategy during this year. The strategy includes increasing the contribution of small and medium-sized enterprises to the national product and will be an enabler for these enterprises. This strategy, the implementation of which has already started in the oil sector through ADNOC, also includes the national value-added program that contributes to helping these enterprises grow.

He touched on the importance of creating an integrated system that embraces small and medium-sized enterprises to go their way towards progress and prosperity. He stressed the importance of encouraging financial institutions and banks in the country to facilitate lending agreements for these enterprises, while calling the global experts and specialists who are gathered here today to transfer knowledge and exchange best global practices in this framework, which would support and develop these specialized enterprises in various sectors, especially defence and security sectors.

His Excellency pointed out the importance of focusing on artificial intelligence and working with specialized academics to prepare future entrepreneurs, stressing the importance of instilling the spirit of challenge in the next generation to start their own businesses instead of waiting for jobs that the government will provide. He concluded his speech with noting that the UAE industrial strategy for this year will focus on supporting small and medium-sized enterprises.

For her part, Her Excellency Sarah Bint Yousif Al Amiri, Minister of State for Advanced Sciences, talked about science, technology and innovation in light of the fourth industrial revolution. Her Excellency noted that the UAE has made advanced steps in this regard, especially in the field of human talent management, and paved the way for attracting and developing individuals and human capital in innovation and other fields. She added that investment in science, technology and innovation is a major driver for sustainable growth and the achievement of a knowledge-based economy.

The closing day of the conference was attended by His Excellency Suhail bin Mohammad Al Mazrouei, Minister of Energy and Industry; His Excellency Mohammed bin Ahmed Al Bawardi, Minister of State for Defence Affairs; Her Excellency Sarah Bint Yousif Al Amiri, Minister of State for Advanced Sciences; His Excellency Major General Pilot Faris Khalaf Al Mazrouei, Chairman of the Higher Organizing Committee for IDEX and NAVDEX 2019; Lieutenant General Steven M. Shepro, Deputy Chairman of the NATO Military Committee in Brussels; Dr. Mohammad Maliki Osman, Minister of State in the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Singapore; His Excellency Major General Pilot Ishac Saleh Al Baloushi, Vice Chairman of the Higher Organizing Committee of the two exhibitions and a group of high-level government and military officials specialized in defence and military industries sector from various countries of the world.

On the sidelines of the conference, three panel discussions were held. The first panel discussion was entitled “The Future of Economy in Light of the Fourth Industrial Revolution - What is Fourth Revolution Economy?”, and was moderated by Muhannad Al Khateeb, a TV presenter in Sky News Arabia. Panelists included David Johnston, a defence industries adviser to the Australian government; Michio Kaku, Professor of theoretical physics and futures - City College at New York City University in the United States of America; Dr. Faisal Al Ayyan, vice president of Rabdan Academy and Dr. Andrew Jackson, CEO of Pegasus.

Panelists stressed the importance of investing in education to ensure sustainable development and provide more job opportunities in the future. They also stressed the need to invest in advanced technologies, especially artificial intelligence, and develop university programs in line with the fourth industrial revolution to prepare a future generation able to meet these challenges.

The second panel discussion dealt with “Security and Stability: Tasks of the Next Generation to Deal and Coexist” and was moderated by Tate Nurkin, founder and CEO of the OTH Intelligence Group. Panelists included Lieutenant General Steven M. Shepro, Deputy Chairman of the NATO Military Committee in Brussels; Dr. Mohammad Maliki Osman, Minister of State in the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Singapore and General Joseph Votel, Commander of the US Central Command.

The speakers touched upon the importance of increasing coordination and joint cooperation, building bridges of trust to enhance global security and stability and planning and finding solutions to face risks, threats and changes that may face the global development process.

The third panel discussion, “Understanding the Age of Cognitive Warfare - The Future Soldier - The Future of Narrating Information through Intelligence”, was moderated by Dr. Mohammad Hamad Al Kuwaiti, an Executive Adviser at The Supreme Council for National Security. Panelists included Emmanuel Shiva, Director of the Innovation Agency in the French Ministry of Defence; Herve Guillou, Chairman and CEO of Naval Group in France; Jose Luis Flórez, Global Director for Advanced Analytics and Artificial Intelligence at Indra – France; and Micael Johansson, Deputy CEO and Senior Executive Vice President of Saab in Sweden.

The panel discussion focused on the need for understanding the age of knowledge in terms of data collection, analysis and human capital in order to keep pace with the latest rapid changes in the world and maintain the ability to compete and remain on the global map in light of the revolution that the era of information technology is witnessing.