Interview: Yousef Obaid Al Nuaimi

How is the chamber working towards the government’s goal of diversifying the economy beyond its industrial manufacturing and tourism bases?

YOUSEF OBAID AL NUAIMI: In line with our commitment to the government’s economic diversification strategy, we are showcasing the potential that exists in some promising economic sectors, such as information technology, among many others. In this regard, some specialists and researchers have forecast a bright future for RAK in the ICT sector, as it is believed that this element will boost its chances of becoming one of the smart cities of the future. We wish to continue striving for greater economic diversification and towards consolidating RAK’s strongest economic pillars, namely tourism and manufacturing, which make up 34% of GDP, mainly through innovation and technology.

What can be done to improve employee retention rates, especially at upper management levels?

NUAIMI: We believe that RAK’s high turnover in human capital is a normal feature of a transitional period in its economic development. As a result, adjusting to employment patterns in the global and regional market is a matter of time. We are placing particular emphasis on developing human infrastructure, by enhancing the quality of higher education, and attracting and retaining the best talent.

What initiatives can be taken to spur private sector investment and encourage entrepreneurship?

AL NUAIMI: The RAK Chamber today accounts for more than 24,000 company members. However, the focus should be on consolidating quality and innovation rather than on numbers alone. We are educating the local business community and encouraging entrepreneurship through several programmes. We believe that investment potential should not be valued solely by financial volume but rather by its relevance to the local economic sectors. Therefore, we are aiming for high-quality investments, whether in the government or private sector.

What role can small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) play in RAK’s economic future?

AL NUAIMI: RAK is taking a full part in the integrated national plan that has been established by the UAE government in order to support SMEs. The programme includes a federal council for SMEs, privileges and incentives for entrepreneurs, technical training, and marketing support for projects. The ultimate goal is for the SME sector to grow and constitute up to 70% of the UAE’s non-oil GDP by 2021.

How would you assess the progress of the structural adjustment programme (SAP) launched by the government at the end of 2013?

AL NUAIMI: Considering the expansion of infrastructure and urban transformation currently under way in RAK, we believe the time is right for such a programme. The programme has created an integrated local pool as well as a system for data compilation that assesses current components of any data. Moreover, the programme turns unilateral departmental projects into collaborative ones, involving all stakeholders in a shared economic strategy.

In which areas should changes be made to ensure that maximum benefit can be derived from the sub-sectors of established industries?

AL NUAIMI: Our “progressive smart” approach will foster greater educational awareness among citizens of our ongoing economic transformation. Capitalising on ICT technologies, developing energy-saving practices and cultivating a sense of shared responsibility for environmental protection are all necessary for this process. Industry is no longer centred on abundance in production, but rather on promoting innovation as well as nurturing an economy of ideas.