Interview: Abdulla Mohammed Al Basti
How are the achievements of Dubai Plan 2021 (DP2021) being monitored?
ABDULLA MOHAMMED AL BASTI: The development of DP2021 was a collaborative effort that involved a large group of stakeholders, both inside and outside the government. The progress we are making towards the plan’s objectives is outlined in the annual report, “Dubai Pulse”, which highlights where we stand on a number of indicators, pinpoints our main accomplishments and explains our key challenges, with recommendations on how to overcome them. This annual barometer targets leadership, government officials and the wider business community. Most importantly, it also targets the general public.
What is the government doing to meet the needs of the private sector and the general public?
AL BASTI: We typically utilise a number of engagement techniques for the private sector, including meetings, workshops, surveys and focus groups. This approach helps us understand not only the needs of the private sector and the general public, but also allows for a diversity of thought, as well as a feedback mechanism in both policy design and implementation. We are also testing new approaches such as the use of behavioural economics in collaboration with selected government departments, like Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, to design targeted and innovative interventions to help us achieve the goals of DP2021 effectively.
These approaches have brought in new ideas and a more focused and proactive means of understanding and meeting the requirements of the general public and the business community.
Can you assess the progress that has been made under the new Dubai Industrial Strategy (DIS)?
AL BASTI: DIS is divided into two main implementation phases: 2021 and 2030. The implementation team of DIS is currently working on a number of initiatives within the 2021 phase. Some plans have already been announced, including: the activation of the Dubai South logistics corridor to facilitate industrial exports; the launch of SkyPharma by Emirates SkyCargo; the inauguration of the region’s largest personal care products manufacturing plant, run by consumer goods giant Unilever at Dubai Industrial Park, which will have investments exceeding Dh1bn ($272.2m) and exports that make up over 80% of its turnover; and the launch of the small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) credit bureau, which will include industrial manufacturers funded by the Department of Economic Development - Dubai SME.
The 2030 phase is centred on building a global platform for knowledge-based, sustainable and innovative industries, where research and development expenditure is expected to reach 2-3% of industrial GDP from the current estimated 0.5%. The DIS implementation team is already working on rolling out some of these longer-term initiatives.
In which ways will the new SME rating framework help in building capacity for SMEs in Dubai?
AL BASTI: The Dubai SME Rating Framework is the first regional rating system of its kind. The system provides a comprehensive performance review based on several financial and non-financial criteria. This framework will help support the UAE’s vision for a sustainable and diversified economy by raising standards and fostering SME growth.
Additionally, it will play a significant role in achieving the DP2021 goals by increasing the contribution of SMEs to GDP, particularly given their role in generating innovative ideas, providing job opportunities and boosting productivity. Moreover, the framework will facilitate governmental support to rated SMEs through the development of a unique strategic partnership between public and private sectors.
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