Interview on the global and Middle East economy


Prominent Arabic region magazine Trends did a special issue to accompany the MegaTrends conference where I delivered a keynote last week, incorporating interviews with the three major speakers: Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, His Highness Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon al-Nahyan, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Tourist Authority, and myself.

My interview is in the document here. I’ve also posted it as text below (pre-editing) as it may be easier to read.

Interview with Ross Dawson for MegaTrends conference


Ross Dawson, CEO of international consulting firm Advanced Human Technologies, talks to Ehtesham Shahid about the nature of the Middle East’s economic stability and systemic risk.

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Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston coming soon!


While our annual Enterprise 2.0 Executive Forum is the biggest Enterprise 2.0 event in Australasia and Asia, the global landmark event for Enterprise 2.0 is definitely the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston, coming up on June 22-25. As I am a blogger partner of the conference, you can get a 30% discount by registering through the button on the right of this post.

Notable keynote speakers at the conference include Andrew McAfee of HBS and Matthew Fraser, co-author of Throwing Sheep in the Boardroom, as well as a host of senior executives from companies that are implementing Enterprise 2.0.

The White Paper produced for the event has some interesting statistics from a very recent survey, as below. The other key statistic, not surprising but certainly gratifying to vendors, is that 65% of respondents expect spending on Enterprise 2.0 by corporates to increase in 2009 compared to last year.



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Landslide in front of my house!


Yesterday evening water got cut off to our house, and then the electricity went out. There were sounds of roadwork outside, so I presumed that as had happened before they were digging up pipes in the road and hadn’t bothered to let us know.

In the morning my wife Victoria got up and then rushed back in the bedroom saying I had to get up and look. I reluctantly dragged myself out of bed and beheld a big hole in the ground in front of our house. A landslide had taken away part of the road and a couple of cars with it. The photo below (click for large version) is taken from our balcony.


We in fact have the absolute best view of this in the city, as we live in the penthouse of the tallest building around, right in front of the hole. Exclusive access to TV crew available by bid in sealed envelope (or email).

Notes from Conversation with Juliette Powell


Last night we had a conversation with Juliette Powell in Sydney. A small group of local digerati gathered for an informal conversation on social networks, taking advantage of Juliette being in Australia for the first time as she tours the world promoting her new book 33 Million People in the Room.

Below are the unedited notes I took during the conversation, reflecting what was said by the participants. It was a fascinating discussion, with just a few fragments captured here.

Notes from Conversation with Juliette Powell

After her book came out Juliette got invitations from around the world, including from X Media Lab for a keynote and mentorship program in New Zealand. There were limited opportunities to connect with her peer mentors in the busy schedule, so the only way to connect was online – the brief initial contact will be followed up on social networks.

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A purveyor of Social Media-Web 2.0-Geek porn


@webtechman just posted this:


For connoisseurs of geek porn who haven’t seen it before, click on the image below for my full Twitter background, comprised of four of our more well-known frameworks, or go to the full pdfs of the frameworks here: Web 2.0 Framework, Extinction Timeline, Trend Blend 2007, and Future of Media Strategic Framework. I’ve been intending to do a compilation of some of our frameworks – will post that soon.

Framework_mosaic copy.jpg

The state of the UAE and Gulf economies


Continuing my live blogging of the MegaTrends conference before my keynote this afternoon, there are two sessions on the economy: a presentation from the Ministry of the Economy, and a panel of the chief economists of leading banks.

The UAE Minister for the Economy couldn’t make it, so the Director-General of the Ministry presented his speech. Most interestingly, he said that they believe that the worst of the crisis is over. Government spending is up 30% on last year, and infrastructure spending is continuing as planned. A new government body will be established this year to provide more consistent and accurate economic data.

Views from the panel:

Mr. Marios Maratheftis, Chief Economist, Standard Chartered Middle East, UAE

While things seem to have been bottomed in UAE and the worst is behind us, not prepared to call a quick recovery. Apparently 70% of projects in the country are real estate related, which is not appropriate. The downturn could be a blessing in disguise if it shifts investment into infrastructure that will drive productivity, away from a focus on real estate. There will be limited negative impact from UAE’s decision not join the GCC monetary union.

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Keynote presentation: Profiting from Accelerating Change – MegaTrends in Abu Dhabi


Below are my slides for my keynote at the MegaTrends conference at Abu Dhabi.

As for all my presentations, note that these slides are designed to accompany my speech and not to be viewed on their own, though may still be useful to people who didn’t attend.

For some more detail on the Driving Forces section, see my post on The MegaTrends of Technology, Business, and Society.

The MegaTrends of Technology, Business, and Society


In preparing for my keynote at the MegaTrends conference in Abu Dhabi this afternoon I have distilled my thinking into a new visual representation.


To gain insights the future we need to understand the intersection of three domains: Technology, Business, and Society.

In each of these domains we can distill one driving force that brings together the vast diversity of trends in these domains. These are:

Exponential Drivers. The most important technological drivers are all exponential: increased bandwidth, greater processing power, more storage, and the development of richer man-machine interfaces. These are driving a wide variety of fundamental shifts, not least an intensely connected and increasingly interdependent society and economy.

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Paul Krugman on the state of the global economy live at MegaTrends in Abu Dhabi


The biggest highlight of the MegaTrends conference for me (other than my own keynote 🙂 ) is the presentation by Paul Krugman, who won the Nobel prize for economics last year, on the state of the global economy. I have a lot of respect for his outlook. Live notes from his speech:

The volume of world trade has fallen off a cliff – down 15% over the last year, the biggest since the Great Depression. In fact there are many similarities to the Depression, but that doesn’t mean that it will be the same. The global economy is stabilizing, but not recovering. Things are getting worse, but more slowly. It *probably* won’t be another Great Depression. Extraordinary declines in output, employment and more. There have been no havens.

So how did it happen? The crisis was far more global than those that point to US mortgage lending as the source. European debt losses will probably be as large as those in the US. There was an epidemic of excessive borrowing across all domains. The IMF now predicts $4 trillion of bad debt.

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Live blogging the MegaTrends conference


I’m at the MegaTrends conference in Abu Dhabi where I will be giving my keynote this afternoon. I’ll be live blogging the morning sessions.

The conference was opened by His Excellency Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, a member of the Al Nahyan Abu Dhabi royal family, and chairman of Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority and several other government bodies.

He said that they have recently re-examined their forecasts, and still predict 15% growth in tourism each year over the next years. Yesterday the local newspaper reported that Abu Dhabi airport arrivals in April were up 12% from last year, suggesting this is feasible despite the downturn. This is strongly supported by the success of Etihad, the Abu Dhabi based airline that was established in 2003, and provides strong connectivity from Europe to Middle Eastern and Asian centers.

As mentioned the other day, one of the critical issues for the UAE is establishing itself as a hub in this time zone. Dubai and Abu Dhabi, despite their strong relationship, compete for regional activity, particularly in financial services. The UAE pulled out of the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) monetary union because Riyadh in Saudi Arabia was selected as the home for the union’s central bank.

More soon.

Keynote presentation: Profiting from Accelerating Change – MegaTrends in Abu Dhabi