Interview: Ali Majed Al Mansoori
How have innovative practices been applied to help facilitate and encourage growth?
ALI MAJED AL MANSOORI: Abu Dhabi has done a great deal to ensure innovation is catered to and included in the emirate’s various strategic objectives, and we encourage active involvement from the private sector. ADDED is mandated to support and supervise the development of science, technology and innovation, mainly through functioning as the interface between government, businesses and academia to realise the best uses for Abu Dhabi’s innovation potential. Currently, the government is offering various opportunities for hi-tech companies to reap benefits from a wide range of its initiatives. In line with the guidelines set out in Abu Dhabi’s Economic Vision 2030, knowledge-based and innovation-related sectors have been prioritised for achieving economic diversification. The plan has underlined the importance of these sectors as principal strategic growth components for the emirate, with a raft of policies and initiatives that have been laid down to prepare the landscape for active and effective participation from the private sector. Moreover, Abu Dhabi is encouraging the large enterprises that underpin the economy, such as the investment and development company, Mubadala, to use their particular competitive edge to support and cooperate with small and medium-sized enterprises, to diversify the enterprise base and enable the spread of technological innovation that will maximise growth in high value-added sectors.
In what ways can the private sector play a more prominent role in policymaking?
AL MANSOORI: Currently, private sector contributions are an integral part of policymaking. This is beneficial for both sides. The private sector’s knowledge, perception, needs and recommendations add to the quality and successful implementation of research policies. At the same time, enhanced interaction in policy issues helps increase awareness of private sector enterprises and stimulate their investment, thus creating leverage for the achievement of the Economic Vision 2030 goals.
What is being done to encourage young Emiratis to seek employment in the private sector?
AL MANSOORI: The participation of nationals in the workforce in particular ranks very high among Abu Dhabi’s ongoing policy focus, and this is well-reflected in the emirate’s Economic Vision 2030. Generally speaking, Abu Dhabi has a highly open and flexible labour market, designed to attract, develop and retain a skilled and effective workforce in which nationals are active participants. Current labour market policies are designed to increase participation by nationals, attract skilled labour and limit the inflow of unskilled workers. Traditionally, the government has been the employer of choice among Emirati citizens.
However, in its drive towards a more efficient public sector, the government cannot maintain this role given the growing number of job seekers. Although Abu Dhabi welcomes expatriate employees to help build the economy and share in its success, the emirate recognises the need to ensure that nationals are well equipped to fill available positions, especially in the private sector. It is therefore essential that nationals have the right skills, qualifications and work ethic to make them more competitive in the private sector job market.
Accordingly, several initiatives and programmes have been introduced to encourage and train young Emiratis to interact with the private sector effectively. Additionally, there are numerous forms of active coordination between academic institutions and the private sector to design appropriate courses to match the skills of Emiratis with the needs of private companies. Central to these ongoing efforts is the “Absher” initiative, which through four strategic pillars aims to establish an overall strategic framework under the UAE Vision 2021 to employ Emirati nationals. This will enhance the participation of our citizens in the labour market.
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