‘UAE Economic Outlook 2017’ sheds light on successful formulae for diversification and innovation

Press release
Published January 18th, 2017 - 09:07 GMT
During the event
During the event

The ‘UAE Economic Outlook 2017’ forum, hosted jointly by the Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED) and the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (AD DED) under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince and Chairman of the Executive Council of Dubai concluded its deliberations today.

The two-day forum, held at the Palazzo Versace Hotel in Dubai under the theme Getting a Headstart on Tomorrow: Innovation and Entrepreneurship for Sustainable Growth and Diversification” was attended by more than 300 senior-most executives and analysts from the government and private sectors. Speakers and panelists on the second day focused on successful experiences worldwide in developing productivity and competitiveness as well as policy frameworks conducive to a sustainable, innovation-driven and diversified economy.

The first session of the final day was dedicated to the ‘Path to Diversification: Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the UAE’ and the panelists highlighted the importance of Innovation in maintaining a competitive edge in the global economy, as well as in facilitating economic diversification and economic progress. The UAE was cited as an example for promoting innovation in both the private and public sectors and creating an enabling regulatory environment complemented by modern physical as well as information and communication infrastructure, research and development and human capital development, and entrepreneurial capabilities and linkages to tap into global knowledge and financing arrangements.

The thrust being given to innovation has led to real economic growth in the UAE averaging at five per cent a year during the past decade and a half, while non-oil economic activities have grown steadily, argued the speakers. The session moderated by Richard Deen from the Arabian Radio Network had His Excellency Abdul Baset Al Janahi, CEO of Dubai SME; Mr Mohammad Saeed Al-Shehhi, CEO, Dubai Design District; Her Excellency Shaikha Al Maskari, Chairperson Al Maskari Holding, and Shady Shaher Elborno, Head, Macro Strategy at Emirates NBD,; as panelists.

Al Janahi said: "The Government of Dubai has adopted a clear policy in stimulating innovation and support across different sectors Dubai SME has taken strategic steps in promoting innovation among SME owners. The launch of the Hamdan Innovation Incubator under the patronage and guidance of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, in 2014 was a critical initiative and today it’s the supervisory authority for all business incubators in the emirate of Dubai.”   

Referring to the dramatic transformation Dubai has undergone over the past few years in terms of new projects across varied sectors, particularly the hospitality, design, fashion and media sectors, Al Janahi said  enterprises in these sectors have adopted a new style of functioning. “We are now focusing on devising solutions and new initiatives that emphasise on creativity, business leadership, environmental protection and the ability of SMEs to contribute to sustainable economic growth.”

The final session of the forum traced the past, present and future of diversification tracing how tomorrow’s growth and living standards would increasingly depend on an economy’s ability to boost its capacity to innovate and to diversify its production base. A range of policies, particularly those relating to well-functioning product, labour and risk capital markets as well as others that do not trap resources in inefficient firms – including bankruptcy laws that do not excessively penalize failure – are central to diversification, said the speakers. The panelists also noted that open markets and competition are particularly important to diffuse innovations, and highlighted the examples of countries that have achieved inroads in innovation, diversification and technology integration. 

The session was chaired Paul Moreno Lopez, Regional Director of the World Bank Group in the Gulf, and was attended by Dr. Wifag Adnan, Distinguished Fellow, INSEAD; Dr Mohammed Lahouel, Chief Economist at Dubai DED; Mansoor Al Malik, Legal Director Twofour54, and Faisal Al Hammoudi, Director Abu Dhabi DED at the panel. 

Background Information

Department of Economic Development

The Department of Economic Development (DED) is the government body entrusted to set and drive the economic agenda of the emirate of Dubai, UAE. The DED supports the structural transformation of Dubai into a diversified, innovative service-based economy that aims to improve the business environment and accelerate productivity growth.

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