As post-oil world looms, UAE plans to build 'knowledge economy' with $81.7B in projects

Published November 22nd, 2015 - 09:03 GMT

The President, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, has announced the adoption of the Emirates Science, Technology and Innovation Higher Policy which includes 100 national initiatives in the educational sector, health, energy, transportation, space and water.

The plan foresees an investment of over Dh300 billion and includes new national policies in legislation, investment, technology, education and finance. Its goal is to build a vibrant knowledge economy in the UAE.

"The UAE is working towards establishing a solid future for the coming generations away from the fluctuation of the energy prices and markets," commented Shaikh Khalifa. "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."

Shaikh Khalifa added: "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."

He confirmed full support of his brothers, the Rulers of the Emirates, and the Federal government under the leadership of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in achieving this policy and defining a new scientific and knowledgeable reality for the UAE.

Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said: "Planning a higher policy for the UAE in the fields of science, technology and innovation that includes scientific initiatives, legislative recommendations and clear financial investment is a strategic decision that aims to change the national economy equation to drive it away from depending on limited oil resources. Our aim, as my brother His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, has said, is to celebrate the last oil barrel we export because we will be prepared for that day when it comes." 

The Science, Technology and Innovation Higher Policy has involved the work of the members of the National Science, Technology and Innovation Committee, and their teams over the past year.

It comprises over 100 initiatives, a number of legislative innovations and policies in investment, technology, education and the financing of the development of a knowledge economy.

The policy includes the establishment of funds for science, research and innovation in the UAE in addition to refocusing investment legislation to encourage technology transfer, support innovation and establish global contractual industrial partnerships. It also includes targets to increase investment on research and development (R&D) in the UAE by threefold and increase the percentage of knowledge workers in the country to 40 per cent by 2021.

The national investment related to the Science, Technology and Innovation Higher Policy is more than Dh300 billion, distributed across investments in clean energy projects amounting to Dh128 billion; Dh72 billion investments in the renewable energy sector; Dh40 billion in aviation research, development and manufacturing; space sector investment of some Dh20 billion and Dh31 billion allocated to investment in enhancing R&D across a range of national initiatives targeting priority sectors. Added to this, Dh6 billion has been allocated to establish innovation incubators and Dh6 billion to develop and establish research centres attached to academia.

In addition, the Science, Technology and Innovation Higher Policy includes a set of educational and scientific initiatives that aim to prepare leaders to align with the developmental changes anticipated for the UAE. The policy aims to redouble the focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) in all UAE educational institutions.

The policy will establish research centres in all UAE universities, focusing on innovation as the main factor in evaluating both public and private schools. The Policy establishes offices for technology transfer in all universities in the UAE to facilitate the transfer of advanced knowledge.

The policy will also establish programmes for graduates in basic and applied research and drive cooperation between universities and the private sector in the fields of science, technology and innovation.

The initiatives stemming from the Science, Technology and Innovation Higher Policy also include providing national strategic support to various advanced industries, including space research and specialised aviation industries. The Policy provides a number of investment and legislative incentives to attract global pharmaceutical industries to the UAE by facilitating contractual partnerships with local factories.

The technological and scientific initiatives also include establishing centres for energy storage solutions, expanding solar energy research programmes and launching a national programme for water desalination using advanced technologies. In addition, the Policy establishes specialised innovation complexes in technology, auto industry techniques and spare parts, as well as building national R&D programmes in the fields of robotics and genome research. The policy also re-stated the UAE's commitment to the promotion of the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

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.

Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Gargawi, Minister for Cabinet Affairs and Chairman of the National Science, Technology and Innovation Committee, said: "The direction of Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in establishing the committee was to plan a comprehensive strategic framework to achieve a quantum leap in science and technology in the UAE. His clear guidance was to establish KPIs for ministries and government bodies to effectively execute these initiatives and follow up on their progress."

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