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His Highness Sheikh Saif bin Zayed has stated that he believes the key to the nation's sustainability is that the citizens of the UAE must stick to their values and ethics following an address he gave at the World Government Summit in Dubai. The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior declared that the UAE's sustainability originates from a blend of its religion, culture, heritage and history which he says were reinforced by the late founding father Sheikh Zayed.

Sheikh Saif said: "When we talk about sustainability, we mean the sustainability of our nation as a whole and not just one sector. Countries that prioritize ethics and subsequently integrate them into their lives should be commended, and in the UAE good ethics has been the key to our nation's sustainability."

He further disclosed that Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed sent a team to a number of countries including Canada and Japan who teach ethics as part of their education system. The team was instructed to take the findings back to the UAE in an effort to incorporate them in the education sector.  Sheikh Saif added: "We took from them what fits with our religion and history and implemented it here."

The Deputy Prime Minister discussed the issues of terrorism, sectarianism and hatred but said there was a common denominator between all religious faiths and that was their call for good fethics'. Sheikh Saif added: "Every time that humanity went off the track of being ethical, God sent them a prophet to remind them of the error of their ways. Being ethical comes before education and money. We are today in a complicated war with hatred, sectarianism, terrorists and, god willing, by holding on to our ethics we will be winners."

Sheikh Saif then heaped praise on the work provided by the UAE National Service - outlining the massive positivity it has in the region. He said: "The service has entered every Emirati home, and we saw its positive effect in those homes. National service is more than just wearing a uniform it's about discipline and politeness."

The Minister of Interior concluded his speech by highlighting the incredible work of the Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid - who has searched for sustainability through culture and heritage. Sheikh Saif said: "The UAE must depend on its heritage to sustain its nationhood, with the speed of the UAE's development we are not riding a fast train, we are riding an aeroplane."

Connectivity, collaboration, sustainability and inclusiveness were the key themes of the opening session of the high-level Leadership Summit, sponsored by TRA, UAE and moderated by Jeremy Wilks of Euronews, media partner of the Leadership Summit.

Extending connectivity - and the tremendous potential for social, economic and human development it brings - is critical. "The digital divide is very much still with us, a divide of geography and gender, of education and resources. It is imperative that we continue to work to close that digital divide," urged ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao.

Summarizing the challenges involved in tackling digital exclusion, Air Chief Marshal Prajin Juntong, Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand and Acting Minister of Digital Economy and Society, focused on four key pillars of acitivity, which resonated throughout the discussion: the digital economy, connectivity, cybersecurity and capacity building.

"Governments must create policies that focus on citizen empowerment, digital skills and the creation of a business environment that allows business to grow by leveraging technology," he said, citing the example of Thailand's dynamic SME and entrepreneurship ecosystem.

What extending connectivity means in practice may vary greatly. The European Commission's Digital Single Market strategy, explained Fátima Barros, Chair of Portuguese regulator ANACOM, puts digital centre stage to grow the economy within and across the region. Its ambitious new broadband targets aim for at least 100 Mbps download speed for all households, 1 Gigabit for institutions such as hospitals and universities, and full 5G wireless broadband coverage in urban areas and major transport routes by 2025.

In India, the scale and nature is somewhat different - as R. S. Sharma, Chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), pointed out, "45% of the unconnected are in India", and supplying basic power is often the first priority, rather than top broadband speeds. But both Europe and India face the challenges of uniting different states with different languages and at different stages of development; and the need for large-scale investment, a technology-neutral hybrid approach to networks and regulatory reform are universal.

The government's Digital India initiative will digitally empower society and transform the country, explained Sharma, through three parallel strands of development: infrastructure, including digital identity data in the cloud; software; and the services riding on top. Providing those services, whether in education, agriculture, health or any other sector, will only be possible through collaboration and partnership.

New regulatory approaches must enable open standards, software and systems to break down silos, encourage multiple technologies and ensure growth. For Barros, it is a balancing act: "The big challenge to achieving connectivity is keeping the goal of building the single market whilst sustaining competition."

Telecom Review Summit 2016

Digital Magazine

Feb 2017

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