The UAE will invest more than AED300 billion on 100 national innovation initiatives in the fields of education, health, transport, space and water.
Over the weekend, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President of the United Arab Emirates and the Ruler of Abu Dhabi, announced the adoption of the Emirates Science, Technology and Innovation Higher Policy, designed to build a knowledge economy in the UAE. This initiative receives the full support of the Federal government led by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and the Ruler of Dubai.
“The UAE has set its course for a post-oil world through investing in the development of our people in the fields of science and advanced technology,” Sheikh Khalifa is quoted as saying by press agency, WAM. “Creating sustainable wealth for the coming generation will depend on science, knowledge, technology and innovation. The Science, Technology and Innovation Higher Policy adopted today is a turning point in our journey to develop the UAE economically and socially.”
The policy involves distributing investments across sectors such as healthcare, space sciences, renewable energy projects (including an expansion of the Masdar renewable energy centre) and aviation. It seeks to enhance R&D investments threefold across a range of priority sectors and increase the percentage of knowledge workers in the country to 40 per cent by 2021. Several billions will also be spent in establishing innovation incubators and establishing programmes for graduates in basic and applied research.
“The policy includes new legislative frameworks to protect intellectual property and copyrights, attract scientists and researchers to the UAE’s academic and research institutions, and facilitate the easy movement of advanced scientific equipment and resources into the UAE,” the statement in WAM added.
Lauding the adoption of the policy, HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan tweeted, “We have already started taking our first steps and early preparations are on to ensure that our resources remain sustainable until the last drop of oil”.
Oil makes up 25 per cent of UAE’s GDP and nearly 77 per cent of state budget currently, accounting also for 20 per cent of export revenues. It remains the most diversified economies in the GCC region, which “also makes it the most resilient to low oil prices” says Seltem Iyigun, Coface’s Economist for the MENA region.
The government’s efforts to diversify its revenue base by building a knowledge-based economy are expected to soften the blow of a lower oil price environment, and are consistent with the longer-term vision of ensuring that the UAE takes its place as the most innovative society of the world by 2021.