The COVID-19, or coronavirus, pandemic has revealed many weaknesses in the global system. Despite our accumulated experience in crisis management, this virus has been able to isolate us all in our homes.
The question now is: will it lead to change? Are we on the cusp of a new world order—a new era that will be a significant turning point in world history? Or, once we are past this period, will the world go back to the way it was before? Of course not, everything will be different.
I’m not going to discuss concerns about the economic downturn and global recession, which is due to hit multiple industries as it did in 2008. Instead I’d like to take a moment to point out how, this time, we could be witnessing a true restructuring of the global system. These are my predictions:
- There will be a shift in the balance of world power, where the scale will tip more towards China, and the Asian countries will recover before the U.S.
- A highly-automated production infrastructure will save energy and not only lower production costs, but also improve quality. The resulting reduction in human working hours will help us maintain better health, and will allow businesses to carry on without interruptions should a crisis hit again.
- Increased confidence in technology, technical performance, and online payment sectors are causing a change in consumer behavior, away from traditional methods. This forces us to adapt to new trends, such as working from home, and move towards a future that could be free of brick-and-mortar offices at large.
- There will be a long-term decrease in business travel due to the emergence of video-conferencing tools, with High Net Worth Individuals preferring to travel via private jet as opposed to first-class air travel.
- Governments will introduce e-services throughout the region. They should leverage the UAE’s experience in developing e-services, which have continued to serve residents throughout the pandemic, including courts, immigration and passport services, ministries, and other various institutions.
- Governments, business leaders, and companies will allocate more budget for investing in healthcare and healthcare products after discovering the gaps in the global system while fighting the coronavirus. More tech startups will emerge with creative applications.
- Trust in local governments in the Middle East will increase, due to the strong defensive measures taken to control the pandemic. Central Banks have injected large sums for financial institutions and offered unprecedented exemptions that were not provided before.
- There will be social change that recognizes the side of life that we might have been too busy to acknowledge before. The international community has joined together in global empathy to stand united. Philanthropic initiatives have been created and humanitarian aid offered as billionaires donated millions of dollars to help save people’s lives.
- The positive impact that this pandemic has had on our environment will last. NASA and the ESA both found that there had been a drop in nitrogen dioxide in parts of China and Italy in March. Meanwhile, the Center for International Climate Research in Oslo estimates there will be a 1.2% decline in carbon dioxide emissions in 2020, using global GDP forecasts from the OECD.
- The education system will be transformed.. With schools closing in 188 countries all over the world, according to UNESCO, home-schooling programs have started to take effect. This has allowed parents to help in developing their children’s skills and discovering their talents. Studying remotely will enable emerging countries to improve the quality of education.
Credit: Forbes By Khuloud Al Omian