x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

UAE's entrepreneurial spirit granted centre stage

The UAE has many groundbreaking achievements in entrepreneurship that it can show the world.

US companies have played a part in the development of transportation, infrastructure and financial services in the UAE. Ravindranath K / The National
US companies have played a part in the development of transportation, infrastructure and financial services in the UAE. Ravindranath K / The National

As the host of the 2012 Global Entrepreneurial Summit in Dubai this week, the UAE is raising its commercial profile and showcasing its groundbreaking achievements in entrepreneurship.

The UAE is a young country at 41 years old, but its spirit of entrepreneurship spans generations. Founded by Sheikh Zayed on the principles of peace, progress, and prosperity, the UAE's unification brought together seven emirates steeped in tradition and ripe for economic growth.

Centrally positioned to serve as a first-mover in the region, the UAE's leadership has fully embraced the efforts of citizens and residents to drive commercial progress and cultivate innovation - a trend that is beginning to gain wider recognition on the world stage.

In the past 10 years, the country has aggressively streamlined its economic development and international engagement efforts to commercially leverage its geographic location and modernise its infrastructure to cope with the changing world market.

More recently, the UAE has emerged as a key strategic ally in the maintenance of regional security in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region and an economic partner to key global markets including the United States, India, and China.

Moreover, in accordance with Vision 2021, the country's established federal economic framework, the UAE aims to develop key global economic sectors including: commercial aerospace and defence, health care, tourism, education, infrastructure, media, and energy (including renewable and civilian nuclear). Each of these sectors supports the country's commitment to diversifying its economy away from a dependence on oil, with the help of the US and other nations, to achieve sustainability and foster innovation.

For its part, the US has been key partner to the UAE in supporting its ambitious economic objectives. In fact, the American private sector has been active in the Emirates for the greater part of the past century and is regarded as a leading source of quality service, production and training in the Emirates and the broader Middle East region.

US companies have been instrumental in supporting the development of key sectors in the UAE including transportation and civil infrastructure, higher education, financial services, commercial aerospace and defence, energy (oil, renewable and civilian nuclear), information technology, and others.

In recent years, the UAE has emerged as America's top export market in the broader Mena region - a position it has held since 2009. In fact, the US and UAE shared a record US$18.34 billion (Dh67.36bn) trade volume last year and trade has already accounted for $18.28bn through the first nine months of this year, according to US government statistics.

Meanwhile, the US continues to support the UAE's development strategy to become a global trading and logistics hub, cultural centre for Arabic media content, and global transit point, while working in tandem to advance the trade relationship to create and sustain jobs at home. In that spirit, both governments agreed to establish the US-UAE Economic Policy Dialogue in March to formalise policy coordination and to elevate the importance of the trade and economic aspects of the relationship between the two governments.

For its part, the third annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit is a tangible answer to calls made by the US president Barack Obama in his 2009 Cairo speech for global support to enhance economic growth in the Mena region.

The conference - held previously in Washington DC and Istanbul - is supported at the highest policy levels and is being held by the UAE in partnership with the US state department, the White House, and other American government entities.

This high level of support is indicative of the strength of US-UAE relations and the confidence American policymakers place in the UAE's ability to deliver a modern, results-driven corporate atmosphere for the event.

As global thought-leaders descend on Dubai for the Global Entrepreneurial Summit, the UAE will have a unique opportunity to highlight its dynamic entrepreneurial success and vision before a large and influential international audience.

Danny Sebright is the president of the US-UAE Business Council and head of the Middle East practice at The Cohen Group, a geostrategic business consultancy in Washington DC