The UAE is a regional leader in building infrastructure, developing industrialisation and pioneering innovation. The UAE Government stresses on these as essential keys to sustainable progress. In the recent past, the visionary leaders of the UAE have announced several initiatives and policies in these fields.
The UAE will host Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit (GMIS) scheduled to take place in Abu Dhabi in March 2017. The summit will bring together over 1,200 representatives from global governments, industries, civil society, students and academia to shape the future of manufacturing. The summit will focus on innovation, infrastructure, capital, markets, value chains, policy, society, environment and skills. The summit additionally seeks to bridge the opportunity gap between emerging and advanced nations for wider global development.
The UAE recognises industrialisation as the key to economic development. According to The Annual Economic Report 2015 produced by Ministry of Economy, the manufacturing sector was the third highest sector by percentage of employees hired during the year 2013. The sector hired 11.6 per cent of all employees that year. Employees in that sector earned 9.9 per cent of all the wages earned during the year 2013 making it the fifth highest sector by percentage of wages earned by the UAE’s workforce.
The UAE is not only encouraging traditional manufacturing but also technology-supported 3D printing. In April 2016, H. H. Sheikh Mohammed launched the Dubai 3D Printing Strategy. This initiative aims to exploit technology for the service of humanity and promote the status of the UAE and Dubai as a leading hub of 3D printing technology by the year 2030. Dubai’s key goal is to ensure that 25 per cent of buildings in Dubai are based on 3D printing technology by 2030.
National development strategies
The UAE has developed several strategies to promote its overall economic and social position and diversify its national income based on a sustainable and knowledge-based economy. Read about it under strategies and plans.
The UAE Government has recognised the importance of the Islamic economic sector, driven by the increase in the global Muslim population that numbers approximately 1.6 billion. Dubai was the first to establish Islamic banks worldwide with the opening of Dubai Islamic bank (DIB) back in the 1970s, in addition to having the Dubai Financial Market (DFM), which is the first global Shari'a compliant exchange.
According to the third edition of the Global Islamic Economy Indicator (GIEI), which covers 73 countries, the UAE is amongst the top three countries as one of the healthiest Islamic economy environments worldwide.
Green Economy for Sustainable Development
By virtue of Vision 2021, the UAE is striving to diversify its income resources by moving away from oil. In January 2012, Sheikh Mohammed launched the Green Economy initiative under the slogan: A green economy for sustainable development. Under this initiative, the UAE seeks to become a global hub and a successful model of the new green economy, to enhance the country's competitiveness and sustainability and preserve its environment for future generations.
Through this initiative, the UAE aims to become one of the world leaders in this area as well as a centre for the export and re-export of green products and technologies, and to maintain a sustainable environment to support long-term economic growth. The initiative includes a range of programmes and policies in the areas of energy, agriculture, investment and sustainable transport in addition to new environmental and constructional policies.
Sheikh Mohammed aims to build an economy that protects the environment as well as an environment that supports the growth of the economy. The Green Economy initiative includes six major fields covering a wide range of legislation, policies, programmes and projects which are:
The UAE’s Post-Oil Strategy-2016
Currently, the UAE is underway to launch its roadmap for a future after oil. The strategy will include ideas and initiatives concluded in the retreat. It will work to strengthen the competitiveness of the current economic sectors as well as gradually introduce new sectors, which will achieve a giant leap in the UAE’s economy in accordance with the highest international standards.
Read how the UAE supports businesses under ‘No poverty’.
Economy and innovation
Several steps and initiatives have been undertaken to promote and encourage innovation in the UAE, all corresponding with Vision 2021 and aiming to make the UAE among the best countries in the world by the golden jubilee of the union. Some of the steps are:
Mohammed bin Rashid Centre for Government Innovation
In September 2014, H. H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum established Mohammed bin Rashid Centre for Government Innovation to stimulate the culture of innovation within the government sector, making the UAE one of the most innovative governments around the world.
Emirates Science, Technology and Innovation Higher Policy
In 2015, the UAE government injected AED300 billion to foster a knowledge economy, driven by innovation to prepare the UAE for a world after oil. The Emirates Science, Technology and Innovation Higher Policy launched 100 initiatives with major investments in education, health, energy, transport, space and water. It includes fields such as robotics, solar power, developing intellectual property, stem cell research and biotechnology.
National Innovation Strategy
In 2014, H. H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum launched the National Innovation Strategy that aims to make the UAE among the most innovative nations in the world within seven years. The strategy targets seven sectors:
The first phase includes 30 national initiatives to be completed within three years, which include:
The strategy will promote advanced technologies in healthcare services. It will stimulate the growth of the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries while also working with strategic partners to support medical research.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Fund to Finance Innovation
In November 2015, Sheikh Mohammed launched the Fund to Finance Innovation with a value of AED2 billion, which is a federal initiative designed to provide financing solutions for innovators across various sectors within the UAE. Priority will go to renewable energy, transport, education, health, technology, water and space sectors, and applicants must provide a business development plan to be eligible for funding. The fund is managed by Ministry of Finance in collaboration with local banks and various investment entities.
The UAE has an excellent infrastructural system comprising transport, communication and mail system.
The UAE has a fast, efficient telecommunications network. The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) is responsible for the management of every aspect of the telecommunications and information technologies in the UAE.
In 2016, the UAE continued to lead the Arab world in terms of networked readiness with a global ranking of 26, according to World Economic Forum's Global Information Technology Report. This demonstrates the robust nature of the UAE's telecommunications sector and the government's success in leveraging advancements in the information and communication technologies to drive economic productivity and social development.
Two telecommunications operators, Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat) and Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company PJSC (du), are serving the UAE telecommunications sector. Both operators are licensed to provide public telecommunication services, which include landline, mobile phone, internet and satellite TV connections.
They have different plans, products and services for businesses. Refer to Etisalat’s website for their range of products and services. Etisalat’s range of products for small businesses includes:
Other licensed telecommunication service providers include:
Information and communication technology
The UAE is very keen on developing her capabilities in the field of information and communication technology and is continuously undertaking measures to achieve that. One of the first steps was setting up free zones such as Dubai Internet City (in 1999) and Dubai Media City (in 2000) to support technology companies in the UAE and boost technological advancements and economic growth in the UAE and the Middle East. Later, in 2005, Dubai Silicon Oasis was established. Today, there are several free zones in the UAE that make publishing through modern information and communication technology possible.
The UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority set up ICT Fund in 2008. The primary role of the Fund is to apportion funds to projects that develop the UAE’s capabilities in the field of information and communication technology. Until 2014, the ICT Fund invested more than AED1.6 billion in various projects in information and communications technology sector including in education and space technology.
The UAE Government is very eager to use ICT tools to not only deliver services in quick and easy manner but also to provide customised services in the future. In 2001, the UAE launched its first eService - the eDirham card – as a mode of payment for government and non-government services. During the following years, more eServices were added leading to the conception and realisation of the UAE’s eGovernment programme.
In May 2013, H. H. Sheikh Mohammed launched the UAE Mobile Government Initiative with the aim to deliver government services to the public round-the-clock through mobile phones, smart devices, kiosks, wearable technologies, drones and robots. Read about the Smart UAE.
The Mohammed Bin Rashid Centre for Government Innovation was established to stimulate and enrich the culture of innovation within the government sector through the development of an integrated innovation framework. The goal is that innovation should become one of the key pillars of the UAE government in line with the vision of H. H. Sheikh Mohammed. which aims to develop government operations and enhance the UAE’s competitiveness, making the UAE one of the most innovative governments around the world.
Moreover, Mubadala, an Abu Dhabi Government company, is investing in a global portfolio of world-class information and communications technology assets, and providing high-tech employment opportunities in IT, technology, telecoms and satellite operations.
Emirates Post offers postal (including post box) and courier services. It also offers non-postal services including utility bill payment and marketing solutions.
Empost offers domestic and international courier services.
Industry and innovation
In the area of spreading entrepreneurship and innovation outside the UAE, Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives and its affiliated bodies aim to train officials and leaders from 155 governmental organisations from various countries around the world, in order to develop the governmental mindset and raise the level of public services. In addition, it has also invested 1billion AED to create an integrated environment to serve creative innovators locally, regionally and globally through the Museum of the Future.
In the area of building infrastructure outside the UAE, the UAEInteract website reports that the UAE donated 494.7 million AED in 2014, for planned infrastructure rehabilitation projects in Yemen.
The UAE has always provided support to Palestine and Gaza Strip by rebuilding or financing the rebuilding of their infrastructure.
Similarly, the UAE helped rebuild Egypt. According to the UAEInteract website, the total value of the UAE's humanitarian and development aid to Egypt between 1971 and 2014 amounted to 47.3 billion AED.
The UAE has also generously built/financed infrastructure in Pakistan and Afghanistan. After the floods ruined regions of Pakistan in 2010, the UAE undertook development and humanitarian programmes costing 320 million USD. The UAE’s Red Crescent Society is also very active in Pakistan.
Read more about services and information under innovation and infrastructure in the UAE.
Read more about the sustainable development goal ‘Industry innovation and infrastructure’.
Manufacturing value added per capita at constant 2010 United States dollars