Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Cooperation in Arabian Gulf is key to making best use of data

The Abu Dhabi Statistics Conference looks at the lack of collaboration between agencies and governments.

ABU DHABI // Statistics centres can expand their reach and efficiency if they unlock data gathered by other government entities, a conference heard yesterday.

But using that data requires close cooperation – a challenge in the Arabian Gulf and elsewhere, speakers said at the Abu Dhabi Statistics Conference.

“This culture of lack of alignment or coordination is important,” said Saber Al Harbi, director-general of economic statistics at Oman’s National Centre for Statistics and Information. During a recent meeting with other Omani data providers, some were reluctant to collaborate, Mr Al Harbi said.

“We were surprised because some entities said, ‘We don’t want the national centre to interfere in our work’.”

The two-day conference, organised by the Statistics Centre Abu Dhabi, focused on improving the quality of “administrative data” – information from entities such as labour ministries, welfare agencies and tax collectors for the purpose of administration, not research.

Ideally, a government statistics centre should have access to good data from these sources. Using such data can reduce reliance on large surveys, which are expensive and unwieldy, speakers said.

“We all recognise that sample surveys have some significant challenges,” said Dr Mohammed Al Rifai, the statistic centre’s manager of methodology and sampling.

The Netherlands, for example, has not conducted a traditional census since 1971, said Eric Nordholt, project leader at Statistics Netherlands. Government decision-makers wanted census data, but gathering it was costly and some people were unwilling to participate.

“We were forced to find an alternative,” Mr Nordholt said.

The Dutch census now combines labour force, housing and other surveys with administrative data such as figures on education, jobs and unemployment.

Requiring data providers to share information with statistics centres is not enough, speakers said.

In Abu Dhabi, the statistic’s centre has a legal mandate to coordinate the emirate’s statistical system, which includes about 70 government and non-government entities. The centre has signed 37 agreements to facilitate data-sharing.

But administrative data brings new challenges, Dr Al Rifai said.

“Administrative databases are not usually constructed for the purpose of official statistics,” he said, and a “lack of priority given to statistical needs” can lead to delays in transferring the data.

To get round those hurdles, the centre created a working group with data-providers to “set down the procedures and resolve disagreements”, Dr Al Rifai said. The statistics centre also provided technical advice and statistical training to staff at other entities.

vnereim@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Ali Benflis, opposition leader and main rival to Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika speaks to the press after casting his vote in the presidential elections at a polling station in Algiers on. Former prime minister Benflis ran against Bouteflika in 2004 but lost heavily, charging the vote was rigged 10 years ago and has said fraud will be his ‘main adversary’ during the election. Patrick Baz / AFP Photo

Best photography from around the world, April 17

The National View's photo editors pick the best images of the day from around the world.

 Above, the private pool of Ocean Heights' five-bedroom penthouse flat. Courtesy Christie’s International Real Estate

In pictures: Penthouse flat is height of Dubai luxury living

A five-bedroom penthouse in Ocean Heights in Dubai Marina is on sale for Dh25 million and comes with a private pool and an unparalleled view of Dubai.

Video: Local reactions to a national fishing ban

A federal fishing ban has been imposed by the UAE federal government, but local authorities are taking diiferent approaches to implementing the ban. Two fishermen tell two very different sides of the story. Produced by Paul O'Driscoll

 Southampton owner Katharina Liebherr is pictured before the Premier League match between Southampton and Liverpool at St Mary's Stadium in Southampton, southern England, on March 1, 2014. Glyn Kirk / AFP

New Southampton owner leading club’s resurgence from the shadows

Katharina Liebherr keeping with family tradition and letting others dominate the spotlight

 The new Bentley GT Speed convertible on display at a press event of the New York International Auto Show. Jason Szenes / EPA

In pictures: Hot cars at New York International Auto Show

With more than 1 million visitors annually, the New York International Auto Show is one of the most important shows for the US car industry. Here are some of the vehicles to be shown in this year’s edition.

 The cast of Fast & Furious 7, including Michelle Rodriguez and Vin Diesel, centre, on set at Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

Fast & Furious 7 filming in full swing at Emirates Palace

Filming for Fast & Furious 7 has started and we have the first photos of the cast and crew on set at Emirates Palace hotel this morning. Visitors staying at Emirates Palace say they have been kept away from certain areas in the grounds.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National