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Moonshot MENA: Making The Middle East The New Cradle Of Innovation

Moonshot MENA
  • The MENA region is already making the leap toward the next technological frontier.
  • Solving for systemic challenges of the MENA region requires radical problem-solving and innovation that is geared toward “moon shooting” rather than simply relying on troubleshooting.
  • Making Moonshot MENA happen starts with a paradigm shift in mindset and carries on through a change in how projects are managed, funded, and overseen.

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has the potential to become a new cradle of global innovation. The region has the potential to pioneer actions of global significance, including transforming energy into food on a massive scale, and leading a new era of space and ocean exploration. It has the aspiration, the potential—and the need—to tackle massive global and regional challenges, most importantly water scarcity. 
To lay the groundwork for this radically different future will take more than big thinking: the MENA region will need to embrace a new and disruptive way of conceiving of ideas and turning them into practical reality. Instead of striving for incrementally better outcomes, it needs to challenge the boundaries of technological possibility and human ingenuity in pursuit of audacious goals that could possibly improve the lives of millions or billions of people worldwide.
The report calls type of off-the-charts thinking and doing “Moonshot MENA.” Its namesake mission, the NASA Apollo Program, conjures the scale and impact of moonshot innovation, as well as the extent of resources, coordination, and imagination required to make it successful.
Turning such visions into reality is a high stakes undertaking, and the authors examine key elements requiring a paradigm shift in the way MENA approaches innovation. Not only does it need to create a culture that invests in human capital, it needs to do so by working across borders and focusing on long-term, ultra-high-risk projects. A moonshot is in many ways a leap of faith and it is time for the MENA region to take that leap now.


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