DUBAI, -- The UAE hosts the best minds in the world as it aims to shape the future, and started a new era today where it proactively plans for the future, Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has said.

Sheikh Mohammed's comments were made during the inauguration of the Dubai Future Accelerators (DFA) programme on Monday at its headquarters in Jumeirah Emirates Towers.

The programme is an initiative by the Dubai Future Foundation and aims to cement Dubai's - and the UAE's - position as an international hub for designing the future. The DFA connects government departments with the world's most innovative companies to find solutions for the most pressing challenges facing the world in the 21st century. The programme enables the UAE to benefit from the advantages of next-generation technology and the fourth industrial revolution by partnering directly with cutting-edge technology companies.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid visited the Dubai Future Accelerators programme's 22,000-square-foot headquarters, where eight accelerators, working in collaboration with government authorities, will focus each on a key economic sector - namely, education, health, infrastructure, transportation, safety and security, energy and technology, and finance. Each accelerator includes innovatively-designed office spaces, conference rooms, communal workspaces, specialised laboratories, and a hall for events and workshops. Moreover, Sheikh Mohammed attended a presentation that detailed the phases of the project and its main objectives.

"The UAE embarks on a new era today. One where we establish a government that proactively plans for the future, and sets a future-focussed economic example for the world, setting both the plans and the tools to achieve them in the process," Sheikh Mohammed said.

He continued, "A few days ago, we launched the UAE Strategy for the Future, and here we are today putting it into practice with an innovative system that connects our government departments with the world's most innovative companies and turns government spending into an investment in the future. Our goal is to redefine the government's role, whereby government entities are no longer mere operational units, but rather centres for planning the future and catalysing global innovation."

"The coming two decades are set to bring about enormous changes that will reshape our world," Sheikh Mohammed said.

"The global population will exceed eight billion people, two-thirds of whom will live in cities. Demand for food, water, and energy will increase by as much as 40 percent. The next generation of technology will also reshape the global economic map, as well as drastically alter the way people live their lives. This offers both, a tremendous challenges and extraordinary opportunities," he said.

"What is most important here, however, is for us to be certain of the role we want to play in that world of the future. It is important for us to play a part in effecting positive change rather than simply undergoing its effects," he noted.

"The Accelerators programme is a powerful tool that allows our government departments to identify the opportunities and challenges facing them in the future," Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid explained, adding, "It helps us build a future-focussed economy today, steering investment towards the kind of companies that will define the future and add billions of dollars to the global economy."

"We launched this programme with eight government entities, but today, we have instructed other government departments to join the global momentum," he added, and assured that he would be personally monitoring the progress of the various accelerators' projects in co-operation with the relevant authorities.

"By attracting more than 2,200 innovative applications from around the world for the first round of the program, the UAE has proven its attractiveness to the world's brightest minds," he said.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid visited each authority's accelerator and viewed a number of the most innovative projects in each.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid was accompanied during his tour by H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince and Chairman of the Board of Trustee of Dubai Future Foundation; H.H. Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai; H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority; Chief Executive of Emirates Group Mohammed Al Gergawi; Dubai Future Foundation's Vice chairman and Managing director Khalifa Saeed Suleiman; Director-General of Dubai's Department of Protocol and Hospitality, and Saif Al Aleeli, CEO of the Dubai Future Foundation.

Source: Emirates News Agency