Event Details

As the new year begins, wars are raging in Africa, Europe and the Middle East. And shipping is under attack in the Red Sea, threating new transport and commodity price spikes. These crises are explosive in their own right. Combine them with a presidential race in America and 2024 promises to be a make-or-break year for the post-1945 world order.

The 2020s were destined to be dangerous. The West's share of world GDP has fallen towards 50% for the first time since the 19th century. Countries such as India and Turkey believe the global institutions created after 1945 do not reflect their concerns. China and Russia want to go further and subvert this system. Their club - the enlarged BRICS bloc (now including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Iran) - clearly has more than one eye on upsetting US political and financial hegemony. Though America's economy is still pre-eminent, its unipolar moment has ended. And its allies in Europe and Japan are in relative economic decline.

The new dynamic is one of instability and an unpredictable cycle of populism, interventionist economics and transactional globalisation.

But what does this mean for our own region, that is geographically and politically in between East and West? Can it resist the siren calls to choose sides, and reap the benefit of both Asian economic growth and Western security assurances?

This year's EICN Regional Strategic Forecast will explore this unfamiliar landscape, with its new alliances, fierce rivalry, mistrust and weaponisation of finance, technology and critical minerals. How will businesses be impacted by industrial policies that support strategically important domestic priorities over trade?

Join us, and leading regional politicians and business leaders, as we assess the implications of this multipolar disorder.


8.30am Arrival, registration, breakfast and networking

9.15am Welcome, Robert Willock, Director MENA & Regional General Manager, EICN

9.20am Regional Strategic Forecast, Andrew Gilmour, Principal Economist, EIU

10.10am Ambassadors Panel Discussion

10.55am Coffee break and networking

11.15am In conversation with Paul Griffiths, Chief Executive Officer, Dubai Airports

12:00 noon Thanks, close, lunch and networking

Please note that this event is limited to senior-level executives and per invitation only. If you are not an existing member of The Economist Intelligence Corporate Network, but would like to learn how you can attend our events, please contact us.


  • Paul Griffiths (Chief Executive Officer at Dubai Airports)

    Paul Griffiths

    Chief Executive Officer at Dubai Airports

    Paul Griffiths serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Airports, overseeing the strategic direction and operational excellence of Dubai International (DXB) – renowned as the world's busiest airport for international passengers – and Dubai World Central (DWC).

    Assuming the role of Dubai Airports' inaugural CEO in October 2007, Paul has been a driving force behind a series of successive milestones in the organisation's history. Notably, he played a crucial role in the seamless launch of Terminal 3 at DXB on October 14, one year after joining. On June 27, 2010, he successfully inaugurated Dubai's second airport, DWC. Further contributing to Dubai's aviation legacy, Paul spearheaded the opening of Concourse A on January 2, 2013, the world's first purpose-built A380 facility, followed by Concourse D on February 24, 2016. Under his guidance, the passenger terminal at DWC commenced operations on October 27, 2013.

    Marking a historic moment on December 20, 2018, Paul, alongside Dubai Airports’ Chairman, His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, welcomed DXB’s billionth passenger.

    In the face of the unprecedented challenges posed by the Covid-19 crisis, Paul's adept leadership enabled DXB to emerge as a global leader in the recovery of air travel, with the hub surpassing pre-pandemic traffic levels in 2023. Correctly anticipating and preparing for explosive growth, he strategically navigated the crisis, positioning DXB ahead of projections. Throughout 2022-23, DXB, under Paul's vision, not only accommodated double-digit growth in passenger numbers but also achieved significant enhancements in the airport experience, ensuring a seamless journey for tens of millions of guests from the kerb to the boarding gates.

    Before assuming his role in Dubai, Paul served as the Managing Director of London’s Gatwick Airport. Prior to his tenure at BAA, an airport operator, in 2004, he spent 14 years with the Virgin Group. During this period, he worked closely with Sir Richard Branson as a Board Director of the Virgin Travel Group, overseeing the commercial activities of both Virgin Atlantic Airways and Virgin Trains.

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  • Andrew Gilmour (Principal Economist at EIU)

    Andrew Gilmour

    Principal Economist at EIU

    Andrew is a principal economist in EIU’s Middle East and Africa team, and is based in the London office. Andrew is responsible for the coverage and forecasts of Iran, Morocco, and Tunisia but also monitors macroeconomic developments in the region as a whole.

    After a stint at the IMF and in banking Andrew has returned to the EIU having previously been Director for the Middle East and North Africa. He has variously been a Deputy Division Chief at the IMF, Chief Economist at Arab Banking Corporation, Deputy Chief Economist at Samba Financial Group, Economic Advisor in the UK Treasury, and an Economist at both the Caribbean Development Bank and Commodities Research Unit.

    Andrew holds a Masters degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of Reading and an Economics and Geography undergraduate degree from London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies.

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  • Edward Hobart CMG (British Ambassador to the UAE)

    Edward Hobart CMG

    British Ambassador to the UAE

    Edward Hobart took up his appointment as His Majesty’s Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates in May 2023. He has previously served as Consul General in Dubai, from 2012 to 2015, a role which included leading Trade and Investment work in the UAE, [at the time] the UK’s fourth largest export market outside Europe. He spent a year previous as Deputy Ambassador in Abu Dhabi.
    Ed’s previous role was as Director Estates, Security and Network in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office from 2017 to 2023. Ed was responsible for managing and developing the FCDO’s portfolio of 6,000 buildings around the world as well as the security of our staff, assets and information.

    He served as the FCO’s Migration Envoy, representing the UK Government internationally and working across the UK government to develop and delivery policy on migration between 2015 and 2017. He headed the FCO’s Libya Unit in 2011. In previous roles he has been responsible for the FCO’s IT and Information Management, led major IT driven change programmes, and developed the FCO’s first digital and on-line presence.
    Ed joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1993. In addition to the UAE, he has also served in Cuba and Malaysia.

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  • Akio Isomata (Japanese Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates)

    Akio Isomata

    Japanese Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates

    Akio Isomata has served in Asia, Europe, North America so far on the Japanese diplomatic service. This post is his first in the Middle East, where he aims to promote a friendly and cooperative relationship between Japan and the UAE.
    Japan and the UAE marked 50 years of diplomatic relations in 2021, which they celebrated with a commitment to explore and expand new frontiers for bilateral cooperation. Japan and the UAE have enjoyed longstanding cooperation in the fields of oil exploration, production and trade, such as: infrastructure; renewable energy; outer space; defence industries; agriculture and food; medical and health care; retail business; tourism; contents and creative industries; sports and much more. Akio cites significant potentials for the further development of bilateral relations, recognising the strategic advantage of the UAE in respect of its political stability, openness of the economy towards the world, and its geographical location as a hub of trade and transportation.

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  • Robert Willock (Director and Regional General Manager of EICN)

    Robert Willock

    Director and Regional General Manager of EICN

    Robert is the Director of the Economist Corporate Network based in Dubai and covering the MENA region. Robert works closely with network members to help inform their business strategies through political, economic and operational insight and to connect them with their senior leadership peers.

    Robert is a business journalist, editor and publisher with 25 years of experience covering a wide variety of sectors, including hospitality, retail, construction, energy and transport, and a particular interest in human capital management.

    He is an accomplished event chairman, moderator and speaker.

    Robert completed an MBA at the University of Leicester School of Business in 2012 and holds a Bachelor's degree from the University of Nottingham.

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