x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Knowledge industries targeted for growth

The UAE aims to grow its "knowledge economy" enough to be worth 5 per cent of GDP by 2021, according to a senior minister.

The UAE aims to grow its "knowledge economy" enough to be worth 5 per cent of GDP by 2021, according to a senior minister.

Sultan Al Mansouri, the Minister of Economy, said he expected growth in high-tech information industries over the next decade.

Knowledge economies are cited as a key element of developed markets and refer to industries that deal with intellectual capital rather than tangible products or natural resources.

"Hopefully by the year 2021, 5 per cent of the UAE GDP will be contributed by the knowledge economy," said Mr Al Mansouri.

Individuals within "knowledge" industries require a highly developed internet infrastructure to communicate, according to the World Bank.

Mr Al Mansouri said the telecommunications industry would be integral to boosting knowledge-orientated small and medium enterprises in the UAE.

"The telecoms sector should play a major role in enhancing this sector," he said.

He was speaking at the Abu Dhabi Telecoms CEO Summit.

Mr Al Mansouri said the UAE telecoms industry was growing due to deregulation in the sector, which saw the operator du launch commercial services in 2007, ending Etisalat's monopoly.

"The UAE telecommunications market has showed significant growth in recent years. This is following the government initiative to deregulate the market and introduce competition."

Mr Al Mansouri said the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) was looking to further boost competition within the industry.

Such a move includes the launch of legal voice over internet protocol (Voip) services in the UAE.

Currently, services such as Skype are banned in the UAE. But local operators are working on launching legal services that allow for free internet calls and cheap computer-to-phone calls.

"This has been a long-awaited process. I hope by the end of this year, or the following year, we will be able to have these kind of services," said Mr Al Mansouri.

He also forecasts growth in e-commerce in the UAE.

"In the next three to five years we are going to see a revolution in that field," he said.

Osman Sultan, the chief executive of du, agreed that online shopping was on the rise.

This was coupled with the increased use of mobile phones to surf the internet, Mr Sultan added.

"Now I believe we are going to see the organisation of new marketplaces," he said.

"The internet is going mobile. The Mena [Middle East and North Africa] region is the only region in the world where the use of the internet is more on mobile."

bflanagan@thenational.ae

twitter: Follow and share our breaking business news. Follow us

iPad users can follow our twitterfeed via Flipboard - just search for Ind_Insights on the app.