100,000 coding initiative to accelerate UAE’s digital economy

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AFP FIle photo
Rahul Bhageeradhan. — Supplied photo
Rahul Bhageeradhan. — Supplied photo

Dubai - Rapid advancements in the area of Low-Code and No-Code platforms enable non-technical professionals to develop software solutions just as easily and efficiently as their technical counterparts.

By Rahul Bhageeradhan

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Published: Sun 11 Jul 2021, 5:52 PM

Last updated: Sun 11 Jul 2021, 5:59 PM

The UAE has long been the beacon of digital transformation in the Middle East, and even the world. This has been in line with its mission of transforming from an oil-based to knowledge and skills-based economy. The positive impact of government initiatives aimed at facilitating this transition has borne fruit. According to the Coursera Global Skills Report 2021, the UAE placed in the 99th percentile for business skills, ranking second globally.

However, an accelerated pace of innovation can only be sustained by a healthy talent pool of IT professionals —  particularly those who do not only have the ability to manage technologies but also actively develop cutting-edge solutions. Presently, this is where the bottleneck to the UAE’s digital transformation drive lies. Coursera’s report indicated a pressing need for the UAE professionals to upskill in the fields of technology and data science — the country’s talent pools for technology and data science skills ranked just 72nd and 71st respectively. Consequently, understaffed IT teams and the lack of technical resources have compelled many businesses in the Emirates to outsource the development of innovative applications to countries such as India, Turkey, and Jordan.

The UAE’s National Programme for Coders initiative, therefore, comes at the perfect time. Along with programmes such as the 10-year Golden Visas, and the influx of visitors expected as Expo 2020 kicks off this October, the UAE now holds a huge attraction for the world’s brightest coding talents. This commendable initiative will foster the much-needed emphasis on addressing this technical skills gap and bringing in the “power of two” – which brings technology coders with business leaders together to deliver exceptional growth and leadership for the country.

Democratisation of Coding

Fundamental to the success of the UAE’s latest initiative will be a change mindset around the definition of a coder. Traditionally, the development of software solutions has been entrusted solely to technical resources with deep-set knowledge of coding languages. This not only restricts the number of coders available but has often led to sub-optimal outcomes, owing to the disconnect between coders, and the ultimate users of the solutions they develop. You can’t after all expect a technical expert to fully comprehend the actual ways in which end-users will go about utilising the technology.

Rapid advancements in the area of Low-Code and No-Code platforms enable non-technical professionals to develop software solutions just as easily and efficiently as their technical counterparts. This ‘democratisation of IT’ makes it possible for a far broader segment of society to be a part of the innovation process. I see the 100,000 new coders who will be added to the UAE’s resource pool in the coming years therefore not just as technical specialists, but rather subject-matter experts who have been empowered by Low-code and No-code platforms to actively participate in the development of digital innovations.

This will translate to digital services that have been designed by individuals who are best suited to understand what the ideal features, functionality, and workflows look like. Breaking down the traditional skills barriers to coding means pioneers will no longer have to wait through cumbersome and expensive software development lifecycles to realise their visions. We have already witnessed how Careem and Souq.com successfully grew into multi-million dollar businesses by pioneering digital innovations. In the highly competitive digital services space, the nation’s battalion of new coders will make it possible for more organisations to rapidly bring compelling digital offerings to market. As they do so, they will not only advance their own careers, but they will successfully play their part in the UAE realise its vision of being the world’s leading digital economy.

Rahul Bhageeradhan is Global Director – Digital Architecture, Kissflow. Views expressed are his own and do not reflect the newspaper’s policy..

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