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Sun 19 Oct 2014 07:47 PM

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UAE launches plan to be 'among the most innovative nations in the world' within 7yrs

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum announces plan for new legislation, incentives, investment global research partnerships

UAE launches plan to be 'among the most innovative nations in the world' within 7yrs
United Arab Emirates Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum. (AFP/Getty Images)

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, on Sunday launched a new strategy to make the country one of the world's most innovative within seven years.

Announcing the National Innovation Strategy, Sheikh Mohammed said it would focus on seven sectors - renewable energy, transport, education, health, technology, water and space.

Its first phase includes 30 national initiatives to be completed within three years including new legislation, innovation incubators, investment in specialised skills, private-sector incentives, international research partnerships, and an innovation drive within government, news agency WAM reported.

It quoted Sheikh Mohammed as saying: "The UAE is already the most innovative Arab nation. Our target is to be among the most innovative nations in the world. The competitiveness race demands a constant flow of new ideas, as well as innovative leadership using different methods and tools to direct the change.

"This innovation strategy is a national priority for our programme of development and progress. It is a primary tool to achieve Vision 2021 and an engine for the growth of distinctive skills and capabilities across the nation. We have always called for creativity in every field: this strategy is a concrete step to implement that vision. These initiatives around innovation will enhance quality of life in the UAE and take our economy to new horizons."

The strategy works along four parallel tracks, WAM said.

The first track will anchor a stimulating environment for innovation in the form of supportive institutions and laws.

The second track will develop government innovation by institutionalising innovative practices with the support of an integrated system of modern tools. The strategy requires all government entities to reduce spending by 1 percent and to dedicate the savings to research and innovation projects.

The third track will encourage private sector innovation by stimulating companies to establish innovation and scientific research centres, to adopt new technologies, and to develop innovative products and services.

The fourth track will qualify individuals with highly innovative skills by concentrating on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, including the creation of educational material for schools and universities.

The aim is to establish a national culture that encourages innovation and entrepreneurship through partnerships between the public, private and media sectors.

Sheikh Mohammed added: "Innovation today is driven by effective institutions, strong policies, specialised skills, and an economy where all sectors work together to discover new ways to conduct business. A flexible and creative economy based on a national culture of innovation is the fastest and most sustainable way to reinforce the UAE’s competitiveness on a global level."

Current annual investment in innovation is worth AED14 billion in the UAE, of which AED7 billion goes to research and development but spending will rise significantly in the years to come, WAM said.

The National Innovation Strategy includes 16 indicators to measure progress. Government-sector indicators include the percentage of innovative ideas and the proportion of budget allocated to innovation. Private-sector indicators include R&D investment and the knowledge profile of the workforce.

Global indicators include an overall measure comparing countries’ innovation capabilities, as well as indicators for the protection of intellectual property, the creation of patents and the availability of scientists and engineers.

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Kool Khara 5 years ago

Excellent vision and leadership as ever from Sheikh Mohammed. Can't wait to see this enacted!

Jim Gilchrist - CAES 5 years ago

Dubai’s intention to be ‘among the most innovative nations in the world’ is admirable. Beyond the continued development of technical skill competency, sustainable success will only occur when non-technical ‘thinking capability’ is further developed at the societal, organizational, managerial and individual levels as well. By encouraging a ‘growth-mindset’ at each level, where ongoing learning, development and progression are ingrained, the resultant culture of innovation will provide a more widespread foundation from which innovation can flourish. Whether making concrete improvements to existing processes or products, or creating totally new approaches, effective innovation will come from thinking, and acting, in different ways. Dubai is well on its way.

Naseem Javed 5 years ago

The world is pleasantly surprised whenever His Excellency Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, presents a notion of new global-age record breaking happenings. The world is also in a race of image supremacy and very few countries are in a position to show some real progress…Dubai certainly holding the pace and against all challenges Dubai and UAE are steadily moving forward… the planning and transformation of watani talent to new heights is the main driving factor…it will happen and well done Dubai…

Paul 5 years ago

It is quite a challenge for a country with locals being minority and playing a limited role in its real economy as well as having a huge disparity between the lower and top salaries to become one of the most innovative nations in the world.
A country where taxi drivers work 7 days a week, 12 hours a day; where labors are paid salaries that do not allow them to live a dignify life and maids being treated the way they are - being this 3 categories an important group in terms of demography, can UAE be considered a 1st world country?
Take Canada, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Australia, as a few examples? Can the UAE social system be compared or even remotely approach these nations? Just because the UAE's material world projects an apparent image that may be confused with a 1st world country, in terms of Social security and human rights there is a long, very long way to go.
Innovation, comes from a balanced, fare society, not from one based on a class system, with huge gaps.

Naim 5 years ago

I agree with the comments but we cannot dispute the vision for innovation. The planned actions will enlighten the minds to bring wisdom resulting in overall improvements in the social structure together with the innovation ideas.

Paul 5 years ago

I agree that innovation improves society in the long run. But if the intentions were genuinely to improve the lives of the lower tiers of UAE society, so it would approach the 1st world standards, a lot would have been done before, targeting directly the lower tiers.
It’s not done, because the economic interests depend on the current situation.
This leads to the impression that these moves have promotional intentions.
What amazes me the most is that public discussions or media coverage of the great social disparity is almost inexistent, as if they too, profit from the convenient situation. If this was to take place in any of the countries I mentioned, there would have being public debates and media coverage. This is the difference between the UAE and those top innovative countries:
Public debate with no boundaries!

Mr dissappointed innovator 5 years ago

This will not be possible unless govt institutions ( Airlines, Military, municipality, civil defence, power generation,) start trusting ideas from local companies. The current mindset is unfortunately still stuck on the inferiority complex that Foreign ideas from developed countries are more trusted than local ones. (example; Its easier for our company to innovate for European/American/ Japanese companies than our own, which is sad). 2ndly , the patent laws here are weak and court takes too long to enforce.

This is caused by having wrong people in the wrong positions. Innovation must be judged by someone who knows how industry works. Not by someone in a job that is forced to use tried and tested methods because he is unable to qualify what is really needed and thinks a mobile App is innovation. This fundamental change needs to come from top and a real committee that is qualified to judge innovation should handle this. I could go one for hours about experiences. Sad innovator

Herve 5 years ago

I read lot of frustration in the above comments and I guess this is coming from people who have lived for quite a long time in the UAE. Are they forced to stay here in Dubai? We know why we are coming to Dubai, we know why we are leaving Dubai. This does not give one good reason to justify what you are all pointing at but let's focus on what innovation will bring to the country. So the intention is great and this can already be celebrated. However we will only be able to judge on the long run and it will be interesting to see the consequences of such an announcement.
Dubai and the UAE need innovation if they want to sustain in this very particular place on the planet. To innovate means they will need to reconsider their business model. Social security system will probably come in the discussion at some point, and if they want to stay true to what they announced, they will act accordingly. Let's hope and work toward this objective.