The Majlis Lectures

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Conversations in Abu Dhabi

The Majlis Lectures

Bill Gates at the Majilis Lectures

This week, I found myself in a remarkable setting in a large tent on the lawn of the palace of my friend, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. Several hundred guests were present, and we discussed international development and aid, and a host of other topics.

I was there at the invitation of the Crown Prince, whom I have known for many years and worked with on international aid and global health issues. His Highness, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, hosts a series of conversations—known as the Majlis Lectures—that bring together a range of people from across the United Arab Emirates, including government officials, business leaders, academics, diplomats, and students to learn from speakers across a range of disciplines. It was an honor to be invited to participate in a Majlis with so stimulating and articulate of a group.

Majlis is an Arabic term that, loosely translated, means “a place of sitting” or a “consultation council.” It was a very lively exchange, with Saif Ghobash, the Chief Operating Officer of Abu Dhabi Media, serving as moderator.

The audience had the opportunity to ask about anything they wanted to know. Most of our discussion focused on three themes I care a lot about: catalytic philanthropy, why I’ve chosen to focus on global health and development issues, and why partners, like His Highness, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, are critical to having an impact on something like polio eradication.

What I appreciated about the Majlis was the chance to talk to Emiratis about how we can all make a difference in the causes we care about.  I spoke of my own hopes to see  the number of children that die under the age of 5 around the world cut in half in the next 15 years.  My work on polio eradication, which is my number one priority now, is part of that larger effort. We talked about what it takes to embrace audacious goals and how passion, energy and intellect all contribute to making big dreams come true.

I saw all three of those in my dialogue with partners in the United Arab Emirates and Abu Dhabi. I feel certain they will do great things with their giving and I look forward to seeing their own audacious goals embraced and achieved in the years ahead.


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