Hundreds of events celebrating innovation are to be held across the emirates in February
UAE Innovation Month to promote nation’s creative thinkers
The UAE will stage a month-long innovation festival in February, involving government entities, small businesses, multinationals and education bodies, intended to promote the UAE as a hub for creative thinking.
UAE Innovation Month, organised by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Centre for Government Innovation (MBRCGI), seeks to expand on the success of UAE Innovation Week, which ran in 2015 and 2016 and saw over 1,200 innovation-focussed activities and workshops staged across the seven emirates, UAE government officials told reporters on Wednesday.
This year, each emirate will run its own programme of events and mini-festivals throughout February to celebrate innovative thinking by governments, businesses and entrepreneurs, and foster innovation among students and young people.
The event forms part of the UAE’s Innovation Strategy, published in 2014, which sets out the country’s ambition to become “the most innovative nation in the world”. Innovation – the concept of smart, imaginative thinking to devise inventions or solutions – is considered critical to helping the UAE diversify its economy and further cement its position as a global powerhouse.
Huda Al Hashimi, assistant director-general for strategy and innovation at the UAE Prime Minister’s Office at the Ministry of Cabinet Affairs and the Future, told reporters that technology and artificial intelligence (AI) would feature heavily in this year’s programme.
“AI is going to play a big role - many of the initiatives and programmes are focussing on AI,” she said. “But, the key thing for Innovation Month, which is going to be the biggest platform the country has ever seen to celebrate innovation, is that we don’t restrict it to a particular sector.
“The UAE Innovation Strategy clearly defines seven main sectors for innovation: space, transportation, aero, renewable energy, technology, health and education – so all of these main sectors are to be key players in this.”
Ms Al Hashimi told The National that private sector organisations – both multinationals and small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – would play a key role in the month-long event.
“The private sector has always been a strong partner in this journey and without them we wouldn’t be where we are now,” she said.
Next month, Google will open a technology hub in partnership with UAE University and the Crown Prince’s Court, while Etihad Airways will partner with IBM for its own innovation week of events.
“We have multiple private sector partners, including multinationals such as [automaker] Saab, but I want to emphasise that some of the events are geared to SMEs – those private sector organisations that are also small business enterprises. We are creating platforms for them,” Ms Al Hashimy said.
“There is no one size fits all – it’s a platform for everybody who wants to be a part of it,” she said.