‘UAE Economic Outlook 2016' forum, jointly organised by the Departments of Economic Development in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, with experts discussing the role of the various policies and economic drivers on promoting productivity and competitiveness in the UAE on the final day.
The second day of the two-day conference held at the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi was dedicated to exchanging ideas on ‘Meeting the Productivity Challenges.' Addressing the forum on the final day, Rashed Ali Al Zaabi, Acting Executive Director of Planning and Statistics in the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, praised the government, semi-government and private sectors in the UAE for their contribution to the recently concluded UAE Innovation Week and mentioned the 132 initiatives launched by Abu Dhabi under the slogan ‘Emirates Innovates' to coincide with the Week.
Al Zaabi stated that the importance of knowledge and innovation in supporting productivity and competitiveness is underlined by the UAE Vision 2021 and further emphasised by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan's declaration of 2015 as the Year of Innovation as well as the National Innovation Week celebrated under the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai.
Commenting on the importance of the UAE Economic Outlook forum, Al Zaabi said it is a valuable opportunity for delegates to learn how to improve productivity and monitor the most important challenges facing productivity growth. The recommendations of the forum will contribute to building a highly productive, diverse and innovation-driven economy, he said.
Participating in the first session of the day on productivity challenges, Dr. Raed Safadi, Executive Director of Economic Research and Policy Division in the Department of Economic Development in Dubai, said overall productivity in Dubai and the UAE can be doubled through further economic diversification, policy reforms and focus on high value-added sectors.
"The initiatives launched by Dubai under the leadership of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum in recent years, for example, those with a strong focus on creativity, innovation and smart services, are aimed to achieve sustainability and promote competitiveness. Estimates show that the gross domestic product in Dubai will exceed 6% by 2019, which is more than the present growth rate in China. As Dubai moves closer to hosting the Expo 2020, the infrastructure will become more comprehensive and well-equipped to drive growth beyond 2020," said Dr Safadi.
Speaking at the final day's second session on ‘Translating higher productivity into a business advantage,' Essam Disi, Director, Strategy & Policy at Dubai SME, the agency of the Department of Economic Development in Dubai, mandated to develop the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector, told the audience about the agency's plan for 2021 to consolidate productivity principles in the sector and provide SMEs with the tools required to measure and monitor the levels of productivity, knowledge, growth potential and profitability.
"It's essential to define the concept of productivity and ways to measure it, in addition to facilitating the application of these concepts in a practical way and link them to strategies for continuous development, efficiency and effectiveness. Supporting research and development efforts, adoption of modern technologies and best practices, and rewarding best performing companies should also be part of the strategies to enhance productivity," added Disi.
Referring to the acknowledged role of SMEs as the most important drivers of innovation in any economy, Disi said investing in SME support should be a top priority for governments. "We see such focus in the plans and strategies across the UAE, both at the federal and local levels. In the next stage we expect to see varied joint initiatives between the public and private sectors to raise productivity and competitiveness among SMEs to global levels," he concluded.