10 Highlights from the 2023 Global Citizen Forum in Ras Al Khaimah

Global Citizen Forum 2023

Ras Al Khaimah hosted the Global Citizen Forum from December 6-7, 2023 at the InterContinental Ras Al Khaimah Resort and Spa. 


The forum is the second installment of a ground-breaking trilogy of “The Butterfly Effect”, with the former event also hosted in Ras Al Khaimah in 2022. For its latest edition themed “Earth Age,” the Global Citizen Forum returned to the Event Emirate—with its signature hot air balloon in tow—to celebrate the planet and global citizenship.


Over two jam-packed days, those in attendance embarked on a remarkable program of original panels, seminars, and interactive experiences. Highlights of the latest and final edition of the Global Citizen Forum speak to the symposium’s incredible itinerary and important purpose, as well as Ras Al Khaimah’s ability to host successful, cutting-edge events.


Discover extraordinary events in Ras Al Khaimah.


Global Citizen Forum 2023 Balloon



Esteemed Attendees 


The Global Citizen Forum asks one not-so-simple question: What does it mean to be a global citizen? For some attendees like Baroness Shaista Gohir, it’s humanitarianism. For others, it’s a matter of international unity or prioritizing seamless travel. No matter the answer, a gathering of leaders and change-makers from around the world seems like a good place to begin.


We were honored to welcome prominent attendees from every corner of the world to Ras Al Khaimah to participate in innovative seminars and meaningful discussions about humanity and the environment. Noteworthy guests include Olympic athletes, CEOs, leaders in sustainability, award-winning filmmakers and authors, and a prime minister. Global Citizen Forum founder Armand Arton additionally brought his children to begin the process of passing on this critical discussion to the next generation.



The World’s First Underwater Panel


While the whole event focuses on taking global conversations to a deeper level, this year’s Global Citizen Forum went deeper than ever before. For the first time in history, the Global Citizen Forum took the conversation below the surface.


The world’s first underwater panel was a roaring success, featuring OceanShot co-founders Dr. Deborah Brosnan and John Paul DeJoria, PADI CEO and President Dr. Drew Richardson, the Prime Minister of Antigua & Barbuda Gaston Browne, and the Global Citizen Forum founder Armand Arton. 


In full SCUBA gear, the impressive panel underscored the importance of cross-sector collaboration in fields including government, tech, and science to achieve environmental goals such as freeing entangled marine life and protecting coral reefs. Below the surface of the Arabian Gulf, they also announced an upcoming OceanShot Lab in Antigua and a novel coral reef deployment project.


The success of the seminar proves the potential of what can be achieved through innovation and collaboration, as advocated by the undersea panelists. Moreover, the circumstances of the panel itself have opened up vast opportunities for future vanguard events in Ras Al Khaimah. 


Spiritual Wellness Seminar at GCF 2023



Spiritual Wellness Seminars


Modern meetings, incentives, conferences, and events go far beyond the boardroom, and often, wellness offerings emerge as a highlight of the program. Learn more about Ras Al Khaimah’s luxury wellness experiences for MICE


The 2023 Global Citizen Forum introduced wellness through a set of two intriguing seminars that embraced spiritual therapeutic practices. Led by one of the world’s foremost spiritual leaders, Marisa Peer, attendees practiced mindfulness techniques in the pursuit of enlightenment. Likewise, breathwork and hypnotherapy sessions throughout Day 2 of the forum were guided by Brian Kelly, founder of 9D Breathwork & YogiLab to refresh attendees and open their minds to find collaborative common ground.



Immersive Experiences


At the 2023 Global Citizen Forum in Ras Al Khaimah, meaningful statements were made through action, not just words. Immersive experiences communicated themes of unity and resilience first-hand.


On Day 1, participants joined Syrian refugee and Olympic athlete Yusra Mardini on a harrowing adventure to experience the tribulations of an overcrowded refugee boat. Attendees were also invited to experience a moment in the life of a television news anchor reporting on the climate migrant crisis with CNN’s Richard Quest. Another immersive session—this one with professional auctioneer Lord Mark Poltimore from Sotheby’s, taught guests through experience how to command a room.


Additional interactive programming was aided by state-of-the-art virtual augmentation technology. Virtual reality was used to connect Global Citizen Forum guests with distant members of the global citizenry out of reach from Ras Al Khaimah. For instance, technology enabled the introduction of participants to vulnerable communities in Somaliland, Africa. Further advances in technology facilitated a ground-breaking sensory journey in an artificial forest. Moved by immersive sights, scents, and sounds attendees experienced the impact first-hand of withering biodiversity.



Art Unveiled


Artistic expression abounded in Ras Al Khaimah at the 2023 Global Citizen Forum. Attendees were treated to two stunning art exhibits with thought-provoking themes. The first, Bobby Sager‘s ‘Being Human’ was a moving exhibition that showcased the plight of child soldiers, refugees, war victims, and humanity in the midst of struggle. Moreover, “At the Lost Planet” by artist Natalia Kapchuk compared the earth’s natural beauty with evidence of environmental destruction. 


The forum also premiered a novel documentary from award-winning Netflix filmmaker, Josh Tickell, that focused on the environmental mission to save the bees. Plus, participants enjoyed a sneak-peak at an upcoming documentary about climate activism by distinguished filmmaker Kasha Sequoia Slavner.


Participants additionally had the opportunity to contribute to meaningful art themselves. Guests’ voices can be heard on the Global Citizen Forum’s anthem, created on-site by acclaimed DJ and music producer, Dany Neville. Likewise, the event featured an interactive painting workshop with artist Domingo Zapata and a poetry workshop led by expert poets. 



The Collision of Past and Future


The Global Citizen Forum in Ras Al Khaimah is an extremely forward-thinking event. However, it also paid homage to the local history. Forum guests were led on an expedition to Al Jazeera Al Hamra, the last remaining pearling village on the Arabian Gulf. Here, participants explored the traditional village including forts, watchtowers, and mosques. 


MICE groups can further investigate Ras Al Khaimah’s pearling heritage at Suwaidi Pearl Farm, the only Arabian pearl farm still in existence. At Suwaidi Pearl Farm, MICE attendees can take a tour aboard a traditional pearl fishing boat to learn about the rich history of Ras Al Khaimah pearl fishing and even try their hand at unearthing their very own pearl.


GCF 2023



Sustainable Initiatives


Sustainability and environmental responsibility were major themes at the “Earth Age” edition of the Global Citizen Forum. Important panels and seminars covered topics such as living cohesively with nature, transforming environmental awareness into action, how sustainable initiatives affect natural longevity, and several more critical conversations. Furthermore, experts including the president of the UN Sustainable Solutions Network Jeffrey Sachs debated the impact that businesses and governments have on sustainable development, and blockchain was introduced as a potential solution for meeting global climate targets.


Ras Al Khaimah was also featured for our strides in sustainable practices and status as a global sustainability benchmark destination. Certified by EarthCheck, Ras Al Khaimah is an ideal host for sustainable events and the destination of choice for eco-conscious MICE planners. At the forum, our CEO, H.E. Raki Phillips shared insights into how Ras Al Khaimah is taking action to preserve our natural resources, local population, heritage, and culture.



Building Connections


Focusing on global citizenship, this event successfully forged bonds of human connection between participants and humanity worldwide. Programs focused on international resilience and collaborative action emphasized the importance of interconnectivity. In his seminar on global compassion, American philanthropist and photographer Bobby Sager said, “I decided that I want to talk about gratitude. Remember to focus on the things we take for granted.” 


Central to the forum, was the goal of defining the concept of global citizenry and inspiring purposeful action. Relationships were a theme of the event—not just relationships with people either, but with the plant, too. For example, one hard-hitting seminar on Day 2 strived to redefine participant’s relationship with the environment to positively shift how people interact with the world around them. 


Through guided programs, guests developed connections with humanity, the world, and Ras Al Khaimah specifically. In reciprocation, Ras Al Khaimah’s dedicated MICE team builds strong relationships with planners and prioritizes unique events that unite teams in their love of our Emirate.


Connect with the Ras Al Khaimah MICE team.



Funds Raised


One way the Global Citizen Forum sparks positive change is through fundraising. To close the first day of the event, the Global Citizen Forum partnered with Nammos World to host a charity gala which raised  £570,000 for the Yusra Mardini Foundation, Global Citizen Cultural Centre for Youth, and more organizations. 


Global Citizen Forum further expanded its charitable reach through a partnership with PANGAIA, a materials science company. At an innovative, eco-friendly printing hub, PANGAIA and the Global Citizen Forum created custom T-shirts, sold to support the protections of endangered bees. 



GCF on the Beach


Right on the Arabian Gulf, Ras Al Khaimah boasts a stunning shoreline. Coastal accommodations and venues, including the only beachside convention center in the Middle East, attract event planners and participants from around the globe.


The Global Citizen Forum took place at the acclaimed InterContinental Ras Al Khaimah Resort and Spa, a beachfront accommodation on Hayat Island. This idyllic 351-room resort offers pristine beaches, five-star hospitality, and multiple dining options. Plus, on-site flexible venue options include a ballroom, six meeting rooms, two boardrooms, and the opportunity for outdoor programs on the sand. 


The event took full advantage of the location by incorporating al fresco assemblies and adding their iconic hot air balloon to the scenic Arabian Gulf lookout. Forum attendees started their morning on the beach with a breathwork session to prepare them for the final day of leading-edge seminars, discussions, and panels at the Global Citizen Forum in Ras Al Khaimah.


Learn more about events in Ras Al Khaimah.