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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

Nurturing creativity and research in the fields of science and technology is key

Universities in the UAE are gearing up to meet the requirements of a post-oil economy

Emirati student Alia Al Mansoori, watches a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch from Kennedy Space Center carrying her Genes in Space experiment to the International Space Station. Scott A. Miller / The National
Emirati student Alia Al Mansoori, watches a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch from Kennedy Space Center carrying her Genes in Space experiment to the International Space Station. Scott A. Miller / The National

The UAE’s higher education sector has been pushing into new frontiers when it comes to offering innovative options that will channel students' interests and energies in new and unique areas of specialisation. This week came news that UAE University would team up with Google to develop a technology lab: to guide young technophiles, to inspire them to develop ideas into products and to aid them in establishing their own businesses. But of course, this new initiative is but one step in creating that necessary ecosystem that will establish our non-oil economy as a robust engine of growth. For indeed, we are already well on the road towards the knowledge economy.

Recently, 29 Emiratis from the UAE Government Leaders Programme visited manufacturing giant General Electric, Google and Twitter in the United States to investigate at first-hand the bracing effects of innovation and creativity. Elsewhere, our universities are entrenching a first-rate research culture within higher education, in the search for value-added inputs for the economy. At local campuses of New York University, Paris-Sorbonne University and Wollongong University, at the Masdar Institute, our students are asking "What if" questions and testing answers from their ingenuity. And neither has the Earth served as a limit, for earlier this year eight universities entered into a partnership with the UAE Space Agency to develop space science and research, with the aim of meeting the great ambitions of the country's nascent space industry.

For long now, we have been known as an oil-exporting country, the beneficiary of the largesse of nature. But nature can only take us so far. What the world will soon notice, if it hasn't already, is that we are building an economy borne of our ingenuity and imagination. (Just google it.) Welcome to the future.

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