UAE ascends as pioneering hub in global quest for longevity

Max Unfried, Scientific Advisor at VitaDAO, reports on the recent Longevity & Crypto Day held in Abu Dhabi.

The Gulf region is taking a dominant role in the fight against aging, and for longevity. While many eyes are turned towards Saudi Arabia and their Hevolution Foundation, the neighboring United Arab Emirates (UAE) are also positioning themselves as a contender for a Longevity Innovator.

New dimensions in longevity
Max Unfried, Scientific Advisor at VitaDAO

Like the rest of the world, UAE life expectancy has risen, with life expectancy at birth rising from 74.3 in the year 2000 to 80.4 years in 2023. This comes with a growing proportion of people aged 65+ year old, and even with significant UAE government spending on health, there’s a disparity between healthspan and lifespan, accompanied by a high prevalence of both common diseases and co-morbidities, as shown by Alyaa Al Mulla who founded the Longevity Think Tank UAE. Additionally, Dr Teeb Alsharid, a Research Specialist at NYU Abu Dhabi, shared insights from the UAE Healthy Future Study, which revealed that a staggering 65% of the UAE’s population falls into the overweight or obese category, with diabetes affecting one in every five Emirati nationals.

With this in mind, the Longevity & Crypto Day gathered 24 expert speakers and attracted more than 100 attendees in Hub71 on Al Maryah Island, in the heart of Abu Dhabi.

The regional interest in longevity was remarkable and was mirrored in the crowd consisting of various government officials from the Department of Health, the sovereign UAE Mubadala Investment Company, and various local medical doctors. Moreover, many crypto enthusiasts came all the way from Dubai to gain a new perspective on longevity.

Professor Evelyne Bischof, Director of the Sheba Longevity Center and Chief Associate physician at the Renji University Hospital remarked:

“The event brought together topics of core synergies: longevity medicine, public health, innovation, investments, biotech and AI, in one of the most progressive and vibrant countries in the world. Importantly, it resulted in clear strategic action agendas thanks to the intense and facilitated networking opportunities.”

The event captured the diversity of the UAE not only the diversity of thought, but cultural diversity as well as an equal representation of of male and female speakers.

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Abu Dhabi was the setting for October’s Longevity & Crypto Day

Moreover, Her Excellency Dr Maryam Matar founder and chairperson of the UAE Genetic Diseases Association pointed out that: “Ethnicity, sex, and even climatic conditions are crucial factors that influence pharmacological responses, necessitating personalized longevity medication approaches. Regrettably, the medical field lacks comprehensive guidelines that incorporate these variables, presenting a challenge for physicians striving to tailor treatments to individual patient needs.”

The presence of longevity startups and investors at the event facilitated on-site due diligence, reflecting the keen interest and proactive engagement of local investors within the longevity sector. The event underscored a growing momentum in longevity research, with the recent strategic expansion of companies like Insilico Medicine, Rejuveron and GlycanAge establishing a presence in Abu Dhabi, signaling the United Arab Emirates’ rising influence in the longevity field.

This inaugural event organized by VitaDAO and GlycanAge heralds the start of an ongoing sequence of longevity-focused assemblies in the United Arab Emirates, a region whose favorable conditions for both crypto and longevity sectors position it to become a flourishing epicenter for such transformative industries in the years ahead.

READ MORE: Max Unfried discusses the role psychedelics have to play in longevity medicine, mental health and geroscience research


Maximillian Unfried, Scientific Advisor, VitaDAO

Max Unfried holds a pivotal position within VitaDAO, a global collective committed to promoting and financing pioneering longevity science research on a worldwide scale. Furthermore, he serves as a trusted scientific advisor to startups, venture capital firms and family offices.

Max also holds a position as a longevity scientist at the esteemed Center for Healthy Longevity at the National University of Singapore. In the dynamic field of longevity science, he has carved a niche with his focused research on the systems biology of aging, delving deep into biomarkers of cellular health, and investigating the pivotal role of psychedelics in advancing healthy longevity medicine. His innovative research approach is a confluence of Artificial Intelligence, Complex Systems and Molecular Biology, working synergistically to unravel the complexities of aging.

In addition to his academic role, Max often shares his insights and findings as a speaker and panelist at notable longevity conferences worldwide, and he has earned several awards recognizing his significant contributions to the longevity field.

Photo credit: Marek Piotrowski