The World in 2018

Outlets from media to think tanks to governments have published their annual prognostications for the year ahead. From sports, to culture, to economics, to global politics, here I present a calendar of events, as well as predictions for the next 365 days.

Sports

The 2018 Winter Olympics are scheduled to be held in Pyeonchang, South Korea. The international multi-sport event will take place from February 9 to 25, and the country of 51.25 million sees this as their first time hosting the Winter Olympics, and their second Olympic Games.

The World Cup 2018 will be held in Russia. This once-in-four-years football event will take place from June 14 to July 15 and is said to be the first World Cup to be held in Europe since 2006.

Economy

The global economy in 2017 was for the most part about steady growth, and the year 2018 sees this trend continuing to 3.6 percent for 2018 compared to 3.5 percent the previous year. In fact the major economies of the world have had their growth forecasts revised from 2016: the International Monetary Fund collectively described them as ‘positive surprises.’

Goldman Sachs predicts a generally ‘strong expansion in the world economy’ at 4.0% real GDP growth in 2018. It further added that the “strength is broad-based across advanced economies (US, Japan, Euro area)”, except for the UK with a much slower growth.

As for emerging economies, Goldman Sachs are positive about the economies of India and Russia, while China “appears to be slowing modestly.”

The annual World Economic Forum, a gathering of the world’s biggest economic leaders, top CEOs, and millionaires and billionaires, will be held on January 23 to 26 in Davos, Switzerland. It is said that this year’s edition will be the first time in two decades an Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, will be visiting this ski resort.

Politics

Russia’s incumbent president, Vladimir Putin, will once again run for presidential elections in April this year. The 65-year-old leader is expected to lead the polls once again, but as an independent candidate after leaving United Russia, a political party he has been associated with since 2001.

In the United Kingdom, another Royal Wedding is stirring up moods and spirits. This one’s a bit special as the bride-to-be, Meghan Markle, to be married to Prince Harry, is an American. When she becomes Royal on May 19, 2018, the former TV actress says she will focus on humanitarian work.

The United States will once again be busy at the polls as the midterm elections takes place on November 6. This midterm election is expected to shakeup the House of Representatives and the Senate as Democrats rally their way to Capitol Hill (and to opposed and worsen the presidency of Republican Donald Trump). Although in the minority right now, the Democrat’s win is not as far-fetched as it sounds since Conservative Trump has quickly become one of the most-hated presidents in US history.

In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia’s move to lessen conservatism will start with allowing women to be issued driving licenses starting June. Women will now be allowed to attend sporting events (although segregated through designated ‘family sections’), as well as the return of movie theaters to the kingdom since the 1980s by March this year. Also important is Riyadh’s plans to offer its first tourist visas in 2018.

The Palestine issue will be a pivotal topic in Middle East politics especially after the United States and Israel angered the world with the announcement that Jerusalem should be the capital of Israel (and with it the relocation of US embassies to the city) back in December. Trump was quick to lash out those who opposed the decision (where a UN vote saw 128 to 9 votes against the Trump declaration) by threatening to withdraw billions of dollars of US aid to countries that opposed him.

Science

Outer space and the Moon is expected to be in the headlines in this Year of the Dog as private companies try their hands on economizing the last frontier. Elon Musk, the American business magnate who owns Tesla Inc. among other big ventures, announced his outer space company SpaceX will send two (unidentified) space tourists on a trip around the Moon in 2018. If successful, this leisure trip will be the first time humans have ventured beyond low-Earth orbit since 1972.

British billionaire Richard Branson has announced his company Virgin Galactic is on track to begin commercial passenger spaceflights before the end of 2018. This prodigious plan will be accomplished by Virgin Galactic’s air-launched suborbital spaceplane SpaceShipTwo, allowing extremely well-paying passengers to experience a few minutes of microgravity and divine views of the Earth below.

Another space-faring company, Moon Express, announced that it is “definitely” going to land a spacecraft to the Moon in 2018. Moon Express is owned by Indian-American entrepreneur Naveen Jain. His company (so is SpaceX, and other space venture companies) is a participant to the Google Lunar X-Prize, an international prize space competition which challenges private funded spaceflight contestants to “be the first to land a robotic spacecraft on the Moon, travel 500 meters, and transmit back high-definition video and images.” The $20 million reward will and should be awarded at the contest’s conclusion on March 2018.

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