Dubai climate conference – the epitome of first world problems

Have you ever tasted a $25 hot dog? It tasted like…a $9 hot dog at Mosaic Stadium. 

Even as a delegate at COP28, the irony of a climate conference in one of the richest cities in the world wasn’t lost on me.

The private jets, the vehicles, massive multi-story buildings, 85,000 delegates all in one place – at times it was overwhelming, lavish and a bit ridiculous.

I mean, booths and presentations dedicated to electric yachts? Less than 1% of the world’s population even owns a yacht and 1% of the 1% cares that it’s electric. You have to ask yourself, are we really solving the problem of global emissions with things like this? Sometimes, I think we can’t see the forest for the trees when it comes to making significant progress on emissions.

Impressions of Dubai 

As a city, Dubai was impressive, though expensive. I took my family on this trip because it was unlike any other family trip we’d ever taken, so no regrets, but the stories of Dubai being expensive and lavish were not wrong!.

The city is synonymous with progress, as there were cranes everywhere constructing new buildings, skyscrapers and tourist venues. The city is clean and I didn’t see any homeless people, and not once was safety a question.

In Dubai, there isn’t an option not to work. Even after the age of 60, I was told, you can’t live in Dubai unless you have a work permit,  own property or a business.  The unique set up of living allowances for Emirates people living in Dubai, to help build houses and buy groceries is something I plan to read more on.

It’s a controversial approach, but if nothing else, you’ve got to admire the work ethic, business sense and incredible amount of wealth that exists in Dubai and even more so in Abu Dhabi. 

The Conference

Again, overwhelming is a word that comes to mind. There were about 50 buildings where the conference took place and I probably only walked through 20 of them. It’s a surprise I made it to all of my panels and meetings on time; being a climate conference, there were no printed maps or brochures. So, here’s me, trying to navigate through the maze with the tiny map on my phone…in 28-degree heat! I certainly got my steps in – a 20-minute walk from the gate where you get dropped off to the building where the panel was taking place.

All that aside, it was great. I had some good conversations with the CEOs of some leading Western Canadian companies, the premiers of Saskatchewan and Alberta, international trade diplomats from the United Arab Emirates, etc. So many new contacts that my goal for the New Year is to upload all of the business cards and build my network – I talked about the importance of this in my last blog. 

Family time and creating lifelong memories 

I had some good conversations with the kids about why I was there and though I don’t think they completely understood the context, I know they did get pushed out of their comfort zones. It was fun to watch them slowly start to embrace the local culture, clothes and food. We added in a visit to a mosque, a theme park and Ferrari World to keep things fun.

My wife and daughter found it interesting that they had to dress in traditional attire while visiting the Mosque, unlike the men.

At the end of the day, they learned that a whole different world exists outside the boundaries of their schools, community and country. And, to be honest, I wanted them to see that people of different cultures are the same as us, though they may look, dress and speak differently.

Keeping an open mind and learning from others is something I try to instill in my kids.

As I watched them soak up this exciting experience, it made me more determined than ever to work towards advancing our farm, our future and their legacy.

It was an experience of a lifetime and we’d do it again in a heartbeat. For my key takeaways, from a business and farm perspective, you can read my last post.