A Trip to Dubai, Future Voices and a Touch of Story

A new book out of the Middle East explores the people authoring next. I met several of them in Dubai.
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June 20, 2024 06:38 EDT

The path to the future is littered with soapboxes strewn across the global landscape by LinkedIn leaders and those who have mastered the art of commercializing ideas. Over the centuries, political figures, playwrights, poets, activists and now AI architects have claimed hegemony over our destiny, positing that they have seen what our future will be.

This is a necessary evil when we are all really on a conveyor belt of advancement towards a very unknown and, quite frankly, murky future. The developed world has iterated so often that we have carved the future out of absolutes from a need to reach a final destination without equivocation. 

A dystopian view this is not.

Indeed, many of the voices amplifying the path forward do so through passion projects and years of research fueled by a never-give-up attitude. The future, one might argue, is a lot like our notion of love — a wonderment wrought with the pain of experience and the savvy of repetition over time. We might think that we grasp what the future will look like and how we might partake in the mythical nature of next, but the reality is far less precise than the dreams of tomorrow. For this treacherous narrative, many ought to rethink and reset the value of contributing to our future not by one innovation but rather by the collective voice that shares in the pursuit process and not the result. 

A trip forward 

I am often on the edge of sanity or insanity interviewing notable minds across the globe in search of the story that unlocked their greatness. Sometimes, the tables are turned, and I find myself at the nexus of the story. A recent journey to the Middle East and the United Arab Emirates landed me in the future not as a witness but as a vocal and representative participant. 

A new book published and written by noted futurist and Dubai resident Tariq Qureishy, Voices of the Future, blends a multimedia approach with a nod to traditional books and an embrace of the technology of content weaving audio, video, QR codes, communities and a manuscript through 110 voices worldwide. 

The selected recipients range in age from 7–80 and from dozens of countries, disciplines, ethnicities and political leanings. Qureishy calls it his “kaleidoscope” — an apt term uniting numerous forecasts rooted in disciplines spanning the arts, sciences, medicine, technology, writing and oration for this 21st-century platform of people and ideas. 

A city, a future landscape?

A delicate dance occurs when I visit a new land — one that serves as a series of introductions to her charm and culture and my thirst to compress the getting-to-know-you phase. I want the feeling of knowing a place, the rhythm of her transit, the beat of her city lights and the comfort of feeling like a local — a tall task by any measure, and one that requires patience when time is short.

The future, as they say, is now. 

While being included as a future voice in Qureishy’s latest publication, I glean a look into the future through conversations on the margins. Prior to the book launch event, I crisscrossed Dubai via local transit in search of stories outside the sheen of a newly minted book with crisp pages and wonderous imagery. 

Seven happenstance conversations spanning taxi rides, shade-seeking discussions, seaside chats and shared exploration brought me closer to Dubai.

When I could not see her yesterday… today, she shone brightly.

I learned about life here from Pakistani taxi drivers, discussed a young man’s dreams originating from the Dominican Republic, shared a story or two between a young Ugandan woman and this wilting Mzungu (name for white skin) under the canopy of foliage while gazing at the Persian Gulf and found reality from a Sri Lankan who has worked for 18 years in Dubai to send money back home to his family.

Within the margins of these moments, I stared up at the wonders of the Museum of the Future, walked onto the shore of the Persian Gulf and shared a cigar with a Moroccan who discussed the plight of refugees around the world, the power of free speech and the beauty of taking a chance, one visa application at a time. 

The future isn’t tomorrow or next year for this illuminating cast of characters. Their future is now, and their patience is burning hot under the heat of the Dubai desertscape. 

The main event underscored the power of story through the accomplishments and collective vision of a cohort of futurists I’m proud to be a part of. A night of quilted conversations with leading voices from England, Australia, India, Iran, Lebanon, Morocco, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, the US and so many more. 

The future of hope, medicine, technology, story and sustainability won the evening. The people and personalities brought me closer to the aspirations of Dubai and the region and, ultimately, the shared hope we all have for this very small planet.

I am not sure if I am a voice of the future or if those whom I met today are who gave a vibrant voice to a city, a country and a region I am just getting to know.

A bucket for the future

This journey to Dubai was about the future, the voices of the future and those whose efforts will likely craft our experience and understanding of an ever-changing world. Instead of artificial intelligence leading the charge, this journey represents the people and ideas behind the technology that will eventually author our collective next.

The futuristic excursion across the planet serves as a cultural nightcap for an experience steeped in a brighter and broader horizon. Ideas were summarily challenged, assumptions humbled and the notion of one’s own voice understood.

At the closing event, I met a fabulous woman who may reside a generation north of mine but whose vitality for life rivals more than I can heartily count. She shared something that was a profound first — last year, she completed her bucket list. Over 35 years, she completed 283 items. A story, you may say, with a beginning, middle and an end, yet this powerhouse of a human anxiously wonders, “What’s next?”

As the event descended into the night sky, she asked if I might sign her copy of Voices of the Future. I attempted to sum up my time in Dubai on one simple note:

Dear Michelle,

Thank you for sharing your inspiration. May we share your 284th adventure together.

All the best,


A woman of powerful stories and adventures ripped from either a spy novel or a National Geographic expose served as my narrative concierge as I put a bow on a wonderful and magical fortnight in Dubai.

The future, for some, has arrived, while for many of us, it remains the carrot to the universe’s stick. The question remains — will we be able to live within the uncertainty as we pursue answers to tomorrow’s questions or find ourselves stuck within the confines of being right? 

There’s a soapbox with my name on it somewhere. 

I, like many of you, wonder when it will be time to turn over the hurt and scars of the past to stand up and join the kaleidoscope of the future. Trust me. From my vantage point, there’s plenty of room on this ever-expanding horizon line or soapbox of our planet’s next. 

The future… awaits!

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.


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