ABU DHABI, The International Defence Conference (IDC) 2019, held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, wrapped up today in Abu Dhabi.

Mohammed bin Ahmad Al Bowardi, UAE Minister of State for Defence Affairs, kicked off the final day with a keynote address.

Day two drew the participation of Suhail bin Mohammed Faraj Faris Al Mazrouei, Minister of Energy and Industry, Sarah bint Yousef Al Amiri, Minister of State for Advanced Sciences, Staff Major General Pilot Faris Khalaf Al Mazrouei, Chairman of the Higher Organising Committee of the upcoming International Defence Exhibition and Conference (IDEX 2019) and the Naval Defence and Maritime Security Exhibition (NAVDEX 2019), Lieutenant General Steven M Shepro, Deputy Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, Dr Mohamad Maliki bin Osman, Singaporean Senior Minister of State for Defence and Foreign Affairs, and Major General Staff Pilot Ishaq Saleh Al Balushi, Deputy Chairman of the Higher Organising Committee of IDEX and NAVDEX 2019.

Distinguished speakers at IDC 2019, held under the theme 'Shaping Our Shared Future: Strengthening Our Security and Prosperity through Innovation', included defence ministers, senior government officials, high-ranking military officers, eminent academics and leaders of renowned defence companies from around the world.

The comprehensive global forum examined the latest developments in the defence, security and offset sectors as well as the potential impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) on these domains, particularly in terms of innovation, manufacturing and human capital development.

Aimed at consolidating the status of the UAE as a leading global hub for specialised conferences, the event focused on four key areas: offset, security & stability, economy, and innovation & artificial intelligence (AI).

In his opening address, Mohammed bin Ahmad Al Bawardi said: "I welcome you to the International Defence Conference (IDC) 2019, held in the capital of the United Arab Emirates � Abu Dhabi. As demonstrated by the recent historic visit of His Holiness Pope Francis, head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State, and His Eminence the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayeb, to the UAE, our country � led by the wise UAE leadership � is home to people from all around the world and believes in the importance of peaceful coexistence and the values of tolerance, love and peace."

He added that the current edition of IDC aligns with the UAE's ambitious vision of a secure and prosperous future for the international community. Speaking on the objectives of the conference, he noted the platform's efforts in driving strategic concepts and visions in line with 4IR.

Mohammed bin Ahmad Al Bowardi explained that the conference convened officials, decision-makers and innovators in the fields of science, economics and the defence industry to discuss relevant topics in science and technology, in addition to reviewing the UAE's pioneering experience in the fields of 4IR, AI and digital technology. He highlighted the importance of unifying international efforts at a time when the world is facing increasing security complexities and various defence challenges on the regional and global level.

He emphasised that sustainable economies are based on knowledge and innovation, and not supply and demand mechanisms that contributed to excessive consumption of resources, causing debt accumulation and recession across markets. He also pointed out the importance of scientific research and advancement across sectors.

In closing, Mohammed bin Ahmad Al Bowardi added that the victor in future wars will not be the one who has the largest and strongest conventional forces, but the one who possesses smart weapons, sophisticated defensive and offensive capabilities, as well as competencies to execute electronic warfare.

Speaking at a session entitled 'Creating Industrial SME Ecosystem for Economic Impact', Suhail Al Mazrouei highlighted the UAE's success story in economic diversification, noting that the country has transitioned from full dependence on oil exports to non-oil industries generating almost two-thirds of the GDP today. He added that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the UAE account for 95 per cent of the economy, and make up 86 per cent of the private sector.

Speaking on the limited number of industrial SMEs in the country in comparison to trade and services, He explained that for industrial SMEs to flourish in the UAE, it is important to put in place a whole ecosystem. Banks and financial institutions should ease lending regulations, while large corporations, academia and entrepreneurs must step up efforts to collaborate. He also proposed the adoption of a framework similar to Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC)'s In-Country Value programme.

In closing, Suhail Al Mazrouei said that within the year, the UAE will launch a new industrial strategy that aims to benefit SMEs.

For her part, Sarah bint Yousef Al Amiri delivered an educational talk, entitled 'Science, Technology and Innovation in Light of 4IR'. She noted that the UAE is leading the way in attracting and fostering talent in innovation and 4IR technologies across various sectors. Her Excellency added that investment in science and technology is no longer a luxury but a key component of sustainable knowledge-based economies.

Mohannad Al Khatib, Anchor and Reporter at Sky News Arabia, moderated the first panel discussion of the day, entitled 'Economy in 4IR Future'. Panellists included David Johnston, Australian Defence Force Export Advocate, Michio Kaku, Professor of Theoretical Physics at The City College of New York in the USA, Dr Faisal Obaid Al Aayyan, Vice President of Rabdan Academy in the UAE, and Dr Andrew Jackson, CEO of Pegasus � a Group42 company.

The panellists led lively discussions on the importance of investment in education for achieving sustainable development, creating future job opportunities, as well as utilising advanced technologies, including AI. To ensure the preparedness of future generations, they stressed that universities need to develop new programmes that align with 4IR.

Tate Nurkin, Founder and CEO of OTH Intelligence Group, moderated the second session on 'Next Generation Stabilisation and Reconstruction Mission'. Panellists included Lieutenant General Steven M Shepro, Deputy Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, Dr Mohamad Maliki bin Osman, Singaporean Senior Minister of State for Defence and Foreign Affairs, and General Joseph Votel, Commander of the US Central Command.

The participants stressed that advanced planning, proactive efforts, teamwork and trust are key elements to security, prosperity and development.

Dr Mohamed Hamad Al Kuwaiti, Executive Director of the Signals Intelligence Agency, moderated the final panel discussion of the conference, themed 'Understanding the Age of Cognitive Warfare'. The panel featured Emmanuel Chiva, Director of the French Defense Innovation Agency, Herve Guillou, Chairman and CEO of Naval Group, Micael Johansson, Deputy CEO and Senior Executive Vice President of Saab, and Jose Luis Florez, Global Director and Chief AI Officer at Indra.

The participants discussed the age of cognitive warfare in terms of data collection and analysis, communication and the human element.

IDC 2019 served as a precursor to IDEX and NAVDEX 2019 that will run at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre from 17 to 21 February under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Source: Emirates News Agency