x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

DED calls for greater investment in people

Abu Dhabi has put forward a raft of recommendations to help meet its human development targets and create a knowledge economy.

Much of Abu Dhabi's initial investment has been in infrastructure to develop industries including Mubadala's Strata plant in Al Ain, above which build aircraft parts. Jumana El Heloueh / Reuters
Much of Abu Dhabi's initial investment has been in infrastructure to develop industries including Mubadala's Strata plant in Al Ain, above which build aircraft parts. Jumana El Heloueh / Reuters

Abu Dhabi has put forward a series of recommendations to help meet its human development targets and create a knowledge economy.

The emirate-wide initiatives include setting up a branch of the Petroleum Institute in the Western Region, the creation of a detailed employee database and government-subsidised private sector internships.

The proposals were unveiled yesterday in a report aimed at providing greater transparency of how successfully the emirate is accomplishing its goals with regards to Economic Vision 2030, a comprehensive road map for the development of a diversified economy.

"There are a lot things that need to be done in both the emirate's western and eastern regions, from education to training and acquiring specialised skill sets for UAE nationals - and women in particular - if we want to meet our mission," said Mohammed Omar Abdullah, the undersecretary at Abu Dhabi's Department of Economic Development, which commissioned the bi-annual Abu Dhabi Competitiveness Report.

"Now at least we have a common understanding among all the stakeholders. Everyone is going to work on their part to ensure we are all moving towards the same objective, so we can assess every year where we are and what we can do better, where are the challenges, and how we can deal with them," he said.

The Abu Dhabi Government has injected billions of dirhams into developing industries such as aviation, tourism and business start-ups as part of a strategic plan released in 2008 to diversify the economy away from its reliance on oil.

Abu Dhabi officials have fine-tuned the 2030 plan to reflect the weaker global economic backdrop after the 2008 financial crisis, The National reported last month.

"The authorities have decided what's a priority and moving ahead," said Saleem Khokhar, the head of equity investments at National Bank of Abu Dhabi. "There has been a change from what the original plan was undoubtedly. It's a sensible approach and a longer-term management in terms of supply and demand."

Much of the initial investment by the public sector has been made in infrastructure to develop industries. These include cultural tourism, with museums and property development on Saadiyat Island, clean energy - Masdar City along with an institute focused on research and development - and aerospace including Mubadala's Strata plant in Al Ain to build aircraft parts.

Last week, plans for a new financial free zone on Al Maryah Island that will be named Global Marketplace Abu Dhabi were announced.

"Training [Abu Dhabi's] workforce for high skilled-jobs, and ensuring that the types of knowledge-based sectors and industries exist for the local workforce is the biggest challenge the Emirate currently faces," the report said.

One suggestion included developing a detailed database of the labour force including individual profiles for Abu Dhabi's three regions; Al Ain, the Western Region and Abu Dhabi City.

The data bank would offer "businesses and policymakers with valuable information on the specific composition as well as needs of the region's work force."

"Details include education, skills, experience, specialisation, gender, visa status and other key attributes [that] can then be mapped against business activities, investment and training opportunities."

The report also suggested introducing a programme by which the public sector can subsidise internships in the private sector to encourage UAE nationals to consider positions in private companies and provide them with training.

The report also suggested "to open a branch of the Petroleum Institute" in the Western Region, which has the largest oil and gas reserves in the UAE.

"It could act as a hub for initiatives and activities in the Western Region," the report said.

"By offering skills and education opportunities as well as business and cluster incubation services around petrochemicals, the Institute could take an active role in developing the Western Region."

 

halsayegh@thenational.ae