It’s no secret that the United Arab Emirates is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Home to the prosperous cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, its opulence is evident on practically every corner of every street. Yet, while the UAE stands as a symbol of prosperity and success, many believe it should also stand as a symbol of global innovation. According to international salesman Hussain Al Nowais, a man who frequently conducts business in the UAE, it’s easy to see how this country is approaching the forefront of global innovation.
The UAE has made no secret of its desire to embrace innovation. In fact, UAE officials have declared 2015, “The Year of Innovation,” and have already launched a series of initiatives to build upon their current endeavors and deploy new projects to ensure that the country continues to lead the region in scientific and technological advancement. The UAE has even created a “CEO of Innovation” position that will be filled within every department of government.
Because the UAE has focused so heavily on sustaining business in recent decades, it’s already cultivated an ideal environment for attracting investment in advanced technologies. When compared to the surrounding region, the UAE leads as the top attractor of investment among the twelve other MENA nations. These investments have helped propel forward the country’s space program, which aims to facilitate unmanned travel to Mars by the year 2021. The space program will be the first developed in the Middle East. The UAE’s plan for a space program is in many ways a logical extension of its already prolific investments in space technology, which has amounted to $5.4 billion dollars in mobile satellite development and earth mapping technologies.
The UAE is also increasing efforts to pursue joint ventures with technology firms, specifically companies focused on defense technologies. Nimr Automotive, an Abu Dhabi-based defense contract company, is one example of the benefits of the country’s pursuit of joint ventures for defense technology. The UAE military purchased 2,000 advanced vehicles produced by Nimr Automotive; Nimr was also able to sell its vehicles to Lebanon and Libya.
Additionally, just last month the Minister of Environment and Water announced the introduction of new afforestation and horticulture technologies that present more efficient ways to expand greenery, improve agriculture, and conserve local wildlife. The UAE’s novel approach to afforestation stands as a landmark endeavor among other countries in the greater MENA region.
The UAE’s commitment to innovation is also reflected through the Abu Dhabi Education Council’s recent announcement that programs intended to cultivate innovation in school children will be developed through new clubs and competitions. Participants of these programs will be taught computer coding, computer design, and lab work, among other science and technology-centered skills. Though these programs will primarily operate in participating schools as extra-curricular opportunities, three centers exclusively designated for youth innovation will be built in the city of Abu Dhabi.