World Government Summit 2017 – Dubai
February 11 to 14, 2017 – Dubai has become a favorite place for me. It is so clean and luxurious. I was here this time to moderate a Conversation with a Master talk with my teacher/mentor 98-year-old yoga master Tao Porchon-Lynch for the World Government Summit in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The World Government Summit is a global knowledge exchange platform at the intersection of government, futurism, technology and innovation. It functions as a thought leadership platform and networking hub for policymakers, experts and pioneers in human development. Strategic Partners include the World Economic Forum, the United Nations, The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, OCED (The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), CLAD (El Centro Latinoamericano de Administración para el Desarrollo) and the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development.
We actually did two programs for the Summit. On February 13th, I gave a brief introduction to Tao and she offered insights and her signature “There Is Nothing You Cannot Do” charge to the audience as they went into a work session on the Sustainable Development Goals. The shift in energy was palatable and there was the usual line of people to meet Tao afterwards. It was a delight to see Hana AlHashmini, the Happiness Representative of the Permanent Mission of the United Arab Emirates to the United Nations. We met at the UN in June when I moderated the program with Tao for International Day of Yoga. On February 14th, Tao offered a longer 45-minute session for the Summit with a mix of inspiration, yoga and meditation. I was honored to moderate for both programs providing context on Tao’s background, incorporating elements of our Conversation with a Master presentation and of course doing some yoga with her. Once again, there was a line for pictures and hugs. I’m always amazed at what I call “The Tao Effect” on people. Simply being in her presence changes you and increases your level of optimism.
The Summit featured quite a number of interesting people including Elon Musk (CEO of Tesla, Inc. and Founder of SpaceX), HE Jim Yong Kim (President of The World Bank), Professor Joseph Stiglitz (Nobel Laureate in Economics and Professor at Columbia University), Dr. Andrew Weil (Founder & Program Director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine) and Max Strom (Writer, Teacher, Speaker), among others. Tao and Max Strom know each other from the yoga world so it was wonderful to see him at her session. He does tremendous work with Inner Axis.
The pre-cursor to the three-day Summit was the Global Dialogue for Happiness – a gathering of international experts to discuss the main themes impacting happiness and wellbeing including government and public policy, sound and effective measurements of happiness, and the latest scientific literature and research on happiness and wellbeing. Presenters included notables Professor Jeffrey Sachs (Professor of Economics at Columbia University, Senior UN Advisor and Co-Editor of the World Happiness Report), Professor John Helliwell (Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of British Columbia and Co-Editor of the World Happiness Report), Dr. Martin Seligman (Professor of Psychology and Director of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania), Professor Ed Diener (Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of Illinois), Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Management at Claremont Graduate University), Professor Meike Bartels (Professor in Genetics and Wellbeing at VU University in Amsterdam), Lord Richard Layard (Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics and Co-Editor of the World Happiness Report) and Professor Rick Hansen(Neuropsychologist and Author).
Happiness is serious business. The first World Happiness Report was published in April 2012, in support of the High Level Meeting at the United Nations on happiness and well-being, chaired by the Prime Minister of Bhutan. Increasingly, happiness is considered to be the proper measure of social progress and the goal of public policy. Learn more about the World Happiness Report and read the latest volume. In February 2016, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the UAE’s Prime Minister and the ruler of Dubai, appointed Her Excellency Ohood bint Khalfan Al Roumi as Minister of State for Happiness indicating that the position “will align and drive government policy to create social good and satisfaction.” She is also Director General of the Prime Minister’s Office of the UAE.
In 2010, I was a discussion leader for the “Economics of Happiness” at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland. In 2009, I was named a Young Global Leader (YGL) by the Forum recognizing my “professional accomplishments, commitment to society and potential for shaping the future of the world.” I was thrilled that Tao got a chance to meet WEF Founder & Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab during this World Government Summit. He held a private talk and lunch with YGLs and Global Shapers who were at the Summit. Afterwards, Tao joined to meet some of my colleagues and say hello to Professor Schwab, whom she met two days before. Perhaps we’ll have Tao at one of our future Forum events.
In addition to the World Government Summit sessions, there were cultural activities to get a taste of Dubai. Thank you to Sumantro Ghose with the Dubai Culture Projects and Events Department for showing us around the new Etihad Museum. The museum opened just last month and chronicles the era before the country’s founding. As part of the museum initiative, the original Union House where leaders signed the treaty establishing the country was restored. After the tour, we joined the Summit dinner held outside. We also had a wonderful dinner one evening at the Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa. It was magical and the food was incredible!
We also tested out the machine which gauges your happiness level by measuring your facial expression. I came in at 97% and Tao, of course, received 100%! I don’t know how the machine really works but the gentleman before us received a score of 67%.
In between the Summit activities, we caught up with old friends including Sara Fakhouri, Dovile Slavinskateand Mina Karaiskou who hosted us for the 2016 XYoga Dubai Festival. We also saw Nina Badri and Noor Al Fardan at the gorgeous Burj Al Arab, considered the most luxurious hotel in the world. They hosted us for tea there last year. In addition, we met many new friends such as BBC Correspondent Kim Ghattas and Paula Felps from LiveHappy magazine.
A wonderful surprise was seeing Matej Cer, founder of the electric mobility company, AvantCar. We met in 2012 when I did a Power Living program for the Young Executives Society (YES) in Ljubljana. He (along with the team from YES) then hosted both Tao and me in 2015. We did our Conversation with a Master program and some yoga classes in Slovenia. Matej had been an evangelist for green technology for fifteen years and was at the Summit with a Slovenia contingent. HE Miro Cerar, Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia, spoke on Smart & Sustainable Slovenia. Known for its commitment to sustainability, Slovenia was named European Green Capital 2016.
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