By Rafiq Vayani
DUBAI: Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and President of Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University (HBMSU), H.E Lieutenant General Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, Deputy Chairman of Police and General Security in Dubai and Chairman of Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University’s Board of Governors, today officially opened the 12th edition of Innovation Arabia Conference and Exhibition – a pioneering event dedicated to innovation in the Arab World, at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre. Running until the 27th of February, under the theme ‘Building Smart Communities: Balancing Innovation, Change and Transformation’, the 3-day event brings together leading figures, leaders and key decision makers from various fields all under one roof, to discuss and explore the impact of ‘innovation’ on various key sectors of the regional economy. Following the opening ceremony, H.E Lt. General Dhahi Khalfan accompanied by many VIP’s, distinguished guests, speakers and leading innovators in the UAE and abroad, toured the exhibition area, where they were briefed about the latest innovative technologies that are revolutionizing the regional economies and contributing to the growth of their key sectors.
This year, Innovation Arabia Conference and Exhibition features a rich comprehensive agenda comprising a number of highly scientific and top-quality discussions on 4 parallel tracks of Smart Learning, Quality and Business Management, Health and Environment and Artificial Intelligence. Over the 3 days, IA 12 is expected to attract over 1,200 researchers, scientists, innovators and academia from more than 50 countries, witnessing the presence of over 30 speakers, 160 scientific sessions, 15 panel discussions and debates and 4 workshops tailormade for professionals in various fields. In addition, the exhibition occupying an overall space of 3,347 square meters, offered world’s leading companies a great opportunity to interact with the top innovators representing various fields.
During his keynote address at the opening ceremony, Dr. Mansoor Al Awar, Chancellor of HBMSU and Chairman of the Conference’s Higher Committee, thanked H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and President of the University, for his patronage of the conference. Al Awar explained that the current session coincides with the UAE Innovation Month, a real reflection of the importance of the conference as an important addition to national efforts to establish a culture of innovation, and is a strategic priority for our wise leadership to oversee the UAE becoming the number one country worldwide. He further emphasized what H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has said: “Innovation is the UAE’s approach to building a sustainable future.”
Al Awar said: “We are keen to offer all that is new at academic and economic levels, and we are keen to launch an initiative to uphold an agreement called for by the world’s leading educational universities and international institutions in a groundbreaking step in the world. This initiative aims at preparing the criteria for evaluation and classification of the universities of online, open, smart and technology-enhanced higher education. These standards will reflect the educational systems adopted by these universities and institutions; leading to the issuance of a periodic evaluation and classification of these universities, similar to the lists and tables known by the global entities of classification and assessment of other higher education institutions. Al Awar concluded: “We are honored to organize the 12th edition of Innovation Arabia. The event will continue to orchestrate the fruitful strategic partnership with INDEX Conferences and Exhibitions; complementing our leadership in removing existing walls between the academic and private sectors and allow us to keep up and lead the 21st century developments. The conference has promising prospects for exploring ways to build smart communities while balancing innovation, change and transformation by focusing on four areas of Quality & Business Management, Smart learning, Health and Environment and Artificial Intelligence. The latter of which is added for the first time from our position at HBMSU as the first educational institution in the UAE to establish a school of Artificial Intelligence, in line with the country’s direction towards optimal investment in this emerging global field by creating the government’s first Ministry of Artificial Intelligence worldwide.
Commenting on the occasion, Dr. Abdul Salam Al Madani, Executive Chairman, Innovation Arabia, said, “The UAE tops the Arab World in the field of innovation, thanks to its fast-paced adoption of new ideas, revolutionary methods and policies. As the world is quickly transitioning into a digitized economy bringing information and access to billions of people around the world, the impact of innovation on all disciplines, economies and industries is clearly visible. With significant investments in new age technology, health and medical research, today the UAE has improved its standing as the leading global destination for investment and it is surely on its path to position itself as one of the top 10 innovation leaders in the world.”
He added, “With this in mind, INDEX Conferences and Exhibitions is indeed proud to partner with HBMSU to present a rich comprehensive agenda and bringing together the world’s best minds in various fields and sectors under one roof. In its 12th edition, Innovation Arabia will provide a great platform for exchange of knowledge and experiences while also offering all attendees an outstanding opportunity to explore how innovation is transforming their field. Running parallel to the conference, the exhibition will provide the exhibiting brands from the UAE and abroad a chance to showcase breakthrough technologies.”
During his keynote address, Dr. Andrey Zinin, said, “Innovation is at the core of Moscow education and we fully embrace it, which is best reflected in the Moscow E-school system. As part of our efforts to inculcate e-learning in our schools, all our students use a single electronic pass to check in and out of school, while going to the canteen or any state museum. In addition, the teachers track the students progress using the e-register while parents have complete access to all data to stay informed. Moscow City Department for Education is confidently facing all existing challenges posed by innovation and is on track to anticipate and offer effective solutions. Indeed, we are making special efforts to generate new ideas and approaches to shape the world of education.”
Meanwhile, Innovation Arabia 12 featured the HBMSU Awards Ceremony to recognize the achievements and outstanding contribution of leading innovators, business leaders and experts in various fields. This year, The Feigenbaum Leadership Awards were divided into various categories where Brigadier Adel Amin, Assistant Undersecretary for Human Resources- Ministry of Interior, Kingdom of Bahrain received an award under the Accomplished Leaders Category while Amna Al Jallaf, Al Jallaf Advocates and Legal Consultants received the award under The Women Leaders Category and Alia Al-Mansoori, Al Mawakeb School, received the award under The Rising Stars Category, who was the Genes in Space competition winner. In addition, Etihad Energy Services Company (Etihad ESCO) received The El Baz Award for Excellence in Organizational Sustainability. Additionally, HBMSU honored leading academicians with E- Learning Awards, where Dr. Tim Rogmans, Assistant Professor, College of Business, Zayed University was honored for his outstanding work on ‘The Impact of a Macroeconomics Simulation Game on Student Engagement and Performance’.
During the opening ceremony of Innovation Arabia 12, HBMSU announced its pioneering ‘Benchmarking Framework and Data Set for Online, Open, Smart and Technology-enhanced Higher Education’ where Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University, with encouragement from the UAE Government and its quality assurance agency, are establishing an international consortium of experienced and interested stakeholders in ICT-driven higher education to develop and operate a Smart Learning Benchmarking Data Set. The consortium would include universities, policy makers, accreditation agencies, and ranking organizations.
The Benchmarking Framework will establish and promote a common understanding and criteria for quality in technology-enhanced higher education and facilitate benchmarking and sharing of best practices. In addition, the Benchmarking Framework will provide distinctive lifelong learning opportunities and experiences to enable students to improve their skills and competencies, adapt to rapid global changes in the world and impact the society and economy of their respective countries.
The confirmed founding members of ‘The Benchmarking Framework’ are: Association of Arab Universities, Uninettuno University, Italy, The European Association of Distance Teaching Universities (EADTU), Asia e University, Philippines Open University, Asian Association of Open Universities, The Arab Network for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ANQAHE), Commonwealth of Learning, Open Polytechnic of New Zealand and Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University, Dubai.
On the first day, a number of topics were discussed during many panel discussions, workshops and sessions, where Olli-Pekka Heinonen General Director of the Finnish National Agency for Education spoke about ‘Building Globally Competitive and Knowledge-oriented Learning Communities: Towards a Skill-based Learning Model” under the Smart Learning Track, while H.E. Eng, Ali Mohamed Al Khouri, The Advisor to the Council and Chairman of the Arab Federation for Digital Economy, UAE spoke on his topic, “Exploring the Future of AI in Smart Communities”, under the Quality and Business Management track. Separately, a panel discussion was held on “Breakthrough Innovations and Quality Management; Do They Align”, while another session covered the topic “University Education in the Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution”.
In addition, experts discussed ‘Call of Duty: Police Edition – Best Practices in Vehicle Fleet Maintenance’ under the Quality and Business Management Track, while a separate panel discussion highlighted the topic ‘Artificial Intelligence: The Next Wave of Disruption’. Moreover, under the Smart Learning Track, experts discussed ‘Three Plus One Towards an Innovative Market Strategy for Online Learning Programs’ and under the Health and Environment track, a key topic ‘Evaluation of Consumer Protection in the UAE Health Care Systems as Volunteers’ was addressed.
Furthermore, Innovation Arabia 12 witnessed the launch of a number of scientific and educational activities to inspire and encourage creative thinking among students and industry professionals. The ‘Innovation Arabia Hub’ provided young entrepreneurs, start-ups and SME’s a unique opportunity to exhibit their talent and showcase new creative ideas that can fuel the growth of our economy while ‘Youth Circle’ offered students and youth leaders from various universities and colleges a key platform to discuss innovative solutions to the difficult challenges facing the industry.
Innovation Arabia 12 Conference and Exhibition, is organized by Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University in cooperation with INDEX Conferences and Exhibitions – a member of INDEX Holding.