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A Conference in the face of Covid

Despite the difficulties and restrictions brought on by the global Covid pandemic, the strict rules imposed by the UAE government may have created inevitable frustrations but they also allowed for real progress to be made without, ultimately, compromising safety.

Over the past 12 months, from concept to realisation, key members of the Oxford Cyber Academy's own research arm, The Oxford Commission on Constitutions, have worked tirelessly to bring the UAE50 Conference (exploring the past, present and future of the UAE Constitution) to life; to give this historic and unique event a public face, ready for public consumption.

An almost full-time dedication to the project was needed, not least because each task set before them was turned into a Herculean obstruction worthy of a mythological epic. Covid, of course, was running the show now. It affected everyone's availability, their willingness to participate, and it fostered reticence in committing to anything remotely attached to a diary entry. Funding too was no longer to be achieved by the normal processes; understandably there was a shortage of market confidence. Or perhaps it was a great excuse to 'hold on to assets until we can see the lie of the land again'. Hmmm. Perhaps.

After months of negotiations, endless emails, webinars, Zoom meetings, designing support materials, developing a brand identity and forging a concept for the Conference content itself, there was light at the end of the tunnel. And on the way, there were encouraging highlights; enrolling speakers of considerable note, receiving broad enthusiasm for the project, making friendships with many academic professionals in the UAE and realising that the Conference really was becoming a 'thing'. Conversely, and somewhat inevitably, there were low moments too; lack of support when it was expected, unavailability of some great and knowledgeable speakers, funding shortfalls, broken promises.... better then to concentrate on the achievements instead.

One person in particular who was instrumental in bringing this project to a point of delivery was Prof John Coughlin of NYU Abu Dhabi. His singular belief in the Conference's concept and his extraordinary support and determination to help us to succeed was instrumental in providing financial and logistical help in the final months leading up to the Conference. His team worked hard to provide us with a physical venue on their campus and with the logistical support to help us deliver a quality event. All of this was achieved under the strictest Covid restrictions and regulations - a veritable minefield of potential disasters had it not been for their help navigating us through it.

And so the date for the Conference fast approaches. Our team are currently flying to Abu Dhabi from their various bases around Europe and we are getting very excited by the prospect of all these months of hard work coming to the face of Covid, what has been achieved so far is extraordinary but we still have the home straight to negotiate. This blog will take you through to the finishing line so keep it here to find out how it all goes and what other exciting news there is attached to the conference...

Meanwhile, why not register to attend the conference online:

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