Originally published February 2018.
The UAE’s appetite for attracting the great and the good (and sometimes the bad and the ugly) remains impressive. This week, Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, hosted the first Milken Institute MENA Summit, and what a gathering it was. Milken, known in a former life as the junk bond king, can call on pretty much anyone to appear at these gatherings, which discuss political, business and societal issues, ranging from Brexit, women in the workplace, prosperity, Africa, blockchain, health technology, philanthropy… the list is long. I was intrigued to hear Brexit views from 3 prominent UK businessmen, which, essentially, focused on the lack of cohesive leadership from the government which could lead to a much greater economic threat to the economy, a far left Corbyn election victory. Equally interesting was the conversation with Thomas Barrack, founder of Colony Northstar and close friend of US President Trump. He described a man who thought a lot more strategically than most would imagine, who ruled by chaos and whose balls to run for President in order to change what he saw as “Bad Business America” surprised no one who really knows him. We came away having warmed slightly to the leader of the free world, knowing a little more about him than many.