Like every government in the world, the UAE is adapting to an economic future in which the phrase “business as usual” will become increasingly obsolete. The Fourth Industrial Revolution has begun to usher in new methods of connection, production, consumption and value creation, with great speed and in ways that challenge the limits of what is possible.
This, though, is a landscape replete with opportunity. Artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, blockchain, nanotechnology, space exploration, 3D printing and quantum computing all have the potential to not just change the world but provide access to entirely new ones – real and virtual. In the coming decades, a nation’s success will depend on how quickly and how broadly these new technologies can be developed, deployed and, perhaps most importantly, distributed.
It is a challenge the UAE is certainly priming itself for. In the “Projects of the 50”, the package of initiatives that will guide the nation’s economic and social path over the next half century, our government put forward an agenda designed to position the UAE as a destination where the brightest minds and the boldest ideas can flourish, and where the technologies of the future can be used as a means of universal economic advancement.
Getting there requires vision, leadership and a spirit of collaboration, whether between countries or between governments, institutions and the private sector. Above all, though, it requires talent.
Writing in the Harvard Business Review in March 2020, Becky Frankiewicz and Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic stated that technological transformation isn’t so much about tools and hardware as it is people. “You can pretty much buy any technology,” they wrote, “but your ability to adapt to an even more digital future depends on developing the next generation of skills, closing the gap between talent supply and demand, and future-proofing your own and others’ potential.”
It is a view that mirrors our own. Attracting, developing and retaining talent has always been a national priority for the UAE – the welcome we have extended to dedicated, ambitious and innovative individuals of more than 200 nationalities is central to the nation’s success and unique character. According to Insead’s Global Talent Competitiveness Index for the year 2020, the UAE ranks third globally and first regionally in its ability to attract talent, and more than a quarter of the world’s largest 500 companies have an international or regional headquarters in the country.
There has also been success in attracting the skills to leverage the technologies of the future. According to LinkedIn, the UAE saw a net inflow of 23,000 skilled people between January 2020 and April 2021, a 13 per cent increase as a measure of the total size of UAE LinkedIn members – and all this despite the ongoing obstacles presented by the global pandemic.
Interestingly, of this 23,000, the most noticeable influx came from those with digital disruptive skills, in fields such as AI, robotics and cybersecurity. Between 2015 and 2020, the UAE saw a 100 per cent increase in these skills in the workforce, which underlines the nation’s long-standing commitment to adopt and harness the technologies of the future.
Of course, as we look to a new year – and for the UAE, a new half century – we know there is much more to be done. The competition between nations in attracting and developing global talent has intensified as knowledge-based economies flourish; we have seen post-Brexit UK reassert its status as a magnet for international professionals and students with a Global Talent Visa, while Australia has created a Global Business and Talent Attraction Taskforce to ensure they remain competitive. Talent will soon trump financial capital as a driver of national economic success.
Source: The National