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Sir Richard Branson cites conflict resolution and climate change as world's most pressing issues

Sir Richard Branson has identified conflict resolution among world leaders and climate change as the two most pressing issues he wants to tackle in his lifetime, during a fireside chat at The Retail Summit in Dubai on Wednesday.

Speaking to Gary Thatcher, CEO and Co-Founder of The Retail Summit, the business mogul praised the Dubai government for their appointment of a Minister of Tolerance, and believes now is the time for world leaders to become better at resolving their differences.

“If you have conflict everything else falls apart,” said Branson.  “In this day and age, we need more good leaders to compromise in order to resolve issues quickly.  Great Britain needs a Minister of Tolerance, it would be wonderful.”

The founder of the Virgin Group discussed issues ranging from sustainability to space travel and said he has no plans of slowing down or retiring. 

“I don’t ever think anyone should retire.  If you’re doing something interesting, you should carry on doing it and if you’re in a position to make a difference, you should make a difference,” he told the delegation of global retailers gathered at Atlantis, The Palm for the first day of The Retail Summit.

“I’ve never seen myself as working in a job.  From the age of 15 I’ve created things that I can be proud of, and people around me can be proud of, and had a lot of fun doing it.  I see every day as one long learning process; I’m learning all the time. 

“I love challenging myself and the people around me.  I will continue doing what I love doing because I enjoy it and I’m in a position where I can make a difference.”

Thanking the organisers of The Retail Summit for their donation to his non-profit foundation Virgin Unite, in exchange for his participation in the event, he also called upon investors to get behind companies that will make the world better for future generations.  “We need billions to be invested in positive things that make sure climate change can be beaten.

“Every year we ask our staff, ‘what are the most audacious ideas that need fixing?’ and we set up organisations in the same way as setting up a business, to tackle these issues.  We try to use our entrepreneurial skills to tackle issues differently.”

Finally, he talked in more detail about his newly announced plans to fly to space in July 2019, following the successful launch at the end of 2018, which saw two new astronauts created from his Virgin Galactic team.  “It had been 14 years of joy and tears and joy, and in December we finally got into space and it was a very emotional day,” he said, revealing that he is now getting fit for his own mission.

One of the most compelling and motivating sessions on the opening day of the event was from Jo Malone CBE, Founder of Jo Loves, who talked about how her battle with breast cancer helped make her into a more passionate business leader.  She cited passion, resilience and respect for the currency of creativity as the three most important values in developing a new brand. 

“Don’t be afraid of the hard times, because they will come and they’re on our doorstep,” she said.  “Unity will get us over the challenges.  You will learn resilience and learn to be a much better CEO, founder, leader because resilience is so important. 

“Invest in creativity.  That will be our future.  And ask, how do we change the world with our products?  How can you change the world?  I created a paintbrush that paints your body with fragrance.  That one single product has opened a global market for me.  Walk towards your goals and make them happen.  Stick to your guns.”

Held in partnership with the Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry and Meydan One, The Retail Summit has brought together a new generation of retailers who are delivering a winning combination of outstanding service and ground-breaking use of technology to deliver memorable shopping experiences.

The first day of the Summit was packed with thought provoking content and lively debate, and the second day promises more of the same with industry heavyweight speakers including:

Huda Kattan, CEO and Co-Founder, Huda Beauty
Julia Goldin, CMO, Lego
John Veichmanis, CMO, Farfetch
Faraz Khalid, CEO, Noon
With more than 80 speakers and 900 participants, The Retail Summit has brought together disruptive brands and legacy retailers to discuss the future of retail in the digital age.

The Retail Summit is supported by event partners Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry and Meydan One; Innovation partner: Accenture; Silver partners: Black Jack, CBRE, CEGID, KPMG, SAP, Umdasch and Xpandretail; Strategic partners: Al Futtaim Malls, Arvind Internet, Bentley, BJSS, Content Square, Department of International Trade, Gate Avenue, Lava Moments, Mcube, Nook, Openbravo, Parcelly, Ponant, Presso, Samsung and Sensemi.


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