World Radiocommunication Conference begins in Dubai with call for consensus on frequencies
Dubai: Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-23) opened on Monday in Dubai.
On the occasion, Sheikh Mohammed posted on his account on X: “The UAE government is hosting today the world’s most important telecommunications conference, attended by more than 4,500 government officials from 193 countries and 900 international organisations, universities and companies from around the world.”
He added: “The World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-23) is the place where countries of the world agree on wireless communications, their frequencies and their role in new sectors such as health, education, manufacturing, smart cities and others. We are proud that the UAE government is hosting such a global event, and we welcome all representatives of countries, companies and universities. Our message to everyone is welcome to the country of the future.”
Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Second Deputy Ruler of Dubai, attended the inauguration of the conference, which is organised by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a key UN organisation.
More than 4,500 delegates, including ministers and government officials from 193 countries and 900 international organisations and universities are participating in the event. Talal Humaid Belhoul, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA); Engineer Majed Sultan Al Mesmar, TDRA Director-General; besides a number of other officials from the TDRA and the UAE government were among the attendees. Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Secretary-General of the ITU, and several other ITU officials also attended.
Eng. Al Mesmar delivered the opening address, emphasising the significance of the conference and the potential impact of its outcomes on future development prospects and prosperity globally. He said: “At this crucial historical juncture marked by intertwined complexities, your esteemed conference emerges as a pivotal force to recalibrate the trajectory and guide the compass towards human development and sustainable progress. It aims to build a global consensus concerning radio regulations and frequencies essential for the forthcoming era, unveiling expansive horizons in areas such as smart cities, digital economy, knowledge society, space and more.”
He added: “The transformative changes observed in the world over the past five decades, particularly within the Fourth Industrial Revolution, highlight the exceptional significance of the ICT (information and communication technology) sector. It plays a pivotal role in guiding our journey toward the future, not merely in anticipation but also in actively contributing to shaping it in alignment with the interests of our populations and the aspirations of future generations.”
Bogdan-Martin, in her speech, pointed out the importance of sharing spectrum resources fairly among all of humanity and the need for coordination and supervision at the international level. She said: “The Radio Regulations emphasise the need for a stable and predictable regulatory environment, enabling the accommodation of both new and innovative technologies that users desire. Striking a delicate balance between these elements is a shared aspiration. Achieving a better digital future requires inclusivity, and the challenge lies in addressing the absence of a third of humanity from the digital development journey. It is imperative to work towards building a sustainable digital future that includes everyone, with radiocommunications playing a significant role in this endeavour.”
During the opening ceremony, Sheikh Ahmed presented a commemorative shield to Bogdan-Martin, highlighting the UAE’s strong partnership with the International Telecommunication Union.
The conference is being held over a period of four weeks, facilitating extensive deliberations and dialogue among regional groups and countries. The primary objective is to reach agreements for updating the radio regulations and pertinent international agreements. These updates are poised to exert a significant influence on the future of the ICTs, industries and overarching global plans.
The opening ceremony witnessed a brisk performance featuring schoolchildren depicting the evolution of radiocommunications in the UAE. The narrative began with the proclamation of the Union on local radio in 1971 and traced the nation’s many milestones, illustrating its rise to regional and global leadership in the field of 5G applications and emerging technologies through to 2023.
Vote of confidence
Among the conference’s initial decisions was appointing Eng. Mohammed Al Ramsi, TDRA Deputy Director General for the Telecommunications Sector, as the Chairman of the conference. Eng. Al Ramsi, in his speech, thanked the international delegations for placing their trust in him. He said: “I extend profound gratitude for the unwavering support and empowerment I have received from the government of my country, the United Arab Emirates, leading to my nomination as the chair of this esteemed conference. I affirm my readiness to exert every effort in ensuring the success anticipated by the world from this conference. The objective is to achieve the necessary results and understandings that contribute to the achievement of the shared goals.
“The frequency spectrum has always been an optimal arena for measuring the influence of partnerships and collaboration at both regional and global scales. Each agreement forged in this context, every decision arising from consultations among involved parties regarding necessary regulatory updates, and every study we contribute to completing and discussing, imprint their impact on the social and economic landscapes of our societies. Central to these influences is the imperative need for ensuring fair access to the spectrum resources to all countries,” he added.
Al Ramsi urged the participating delegations to adopt a vision that strikes a balance between the current varied requirements of spectrum users, while also safeguarding the rights of future generations, and preserving this resource that God has bestowed upon humanity for its well-being and happiness.
The UAE maintains a robust connection with the ITU, a relationship rooted in the early interest of the country’s leadership in this promising strategic sector. The UAE became a member of the ITU in June 1972, mere months after its establishment. Throughout this enduring relationship, the UAE’s involvement has played a significant role in addressing global issues related to the sector, characterised by an approach of international cooperation, openness to global experiences, and providing support to numerous countries and regional groups.
The UAE’s presence has always been influential for the Arab region in the context of the ITU, with the UAE assuming the chairmanship of the Arab Group and leading Arab dialogues on diverse agenda items across various ITU events.
As Dubai hosts WRC23 with an Emirati assuming leadership, the UAE stands as the only country to host and chair all key activities of the ITU. This highlights the UAE’s global position in alignment with the ‘We the UAE 2023’ vision, emphasising ‘Forward Diplomacy’as one of its key pillars.
Mohammed Al Zarooni, TDRA Deputy Director-General for the Digital Government Sector, was chosen as dean of the conference. In his address, Al Zarooni expressed his gratitude to the conference organisers from the UAE as well as the ITU. He emphasised the significant responsibility of the conference in reviewing and revising the Radio Regulations, the international treaty forming the foundation for radio frequency and satellite orbit utilisation. This, he noted, is crucial for advancing future trends in smart cities and various aspects of life.
Al Zarooni added: “As we convene in this momentous conference, our shared objective is to craft outcomes that resonate positively in people’s lives, steer constructive economic and industrial activities, and meaningfully contribute to the ITU’s noble humanitarian goals, particularly advancing sustainable development. To achieve these objectives, fostering cooperation, dialogue, and compromise based on a “win-win” approach is paramount. It is through this collaborative spirit that we can actively shape the present and work towards a more inclusive and prosperous future for all.”