UNLIMITED in Abu Dhabi New York University

How do you Combine Wealth with Purpose?

Having dedicated itself to exploring the question ‘Does wealth make us rich anymore?’ for over half a year, UNLIMITED travelled to Abu Dhabi to find a resolution. After launching at one of the world’s oldest universities, we decided it was only right to try and draw a conclusion at one of the world’s newest – the New York University in Abu Dhabi. Joining us for our resolution and delivering illuminating talks were entrepreneur and model Lily Cole, Google X Executive Mo Gawdat and Formula 1 legend David Coulthard, among others.

Over the past six months we have explored the most basic unit of wealth – currency – and travelled to Iceland to discover how in the aftermath of the financial crash, groups of people felt empowered to develop their own alternatives to units of exchange offered by governments.

We examined attempts by individuals to live without money at all, and whether these brave experiments had a real relevance for the rest of us.

We looked at what happens to wealth and purpose if automation ends the requirement for humans to work.

We questioned what money could buy today and what implications that might have on the accumulation of wealth.

We met fishermen and financiers, playboys and hippies, collectors and anarchists, craftsmen and programmers, gardeners and scientists, writers and bankers, explorers and businessmen. We found many different definitions of wealth – from money and possessions, to data and knowledge, community and caring, reputation and wisdom, health and time, to security and sanity, experience and legacy.

We discovered that different people in different countries will see both the question and the answer in extremely different terms. However, one clear message emerged from the journey. People across the world are increasingly choosing experiences over physical goods, with many viewing wealth as a means to drive social impact. Simply put, the 21st century is witnessing a revolution of the material self.