Strategic Plan 2015 to bolster Dubai's position as a globally leading Arab city

Full text of the speech by His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai

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Published: Sun 4 Feb 2007, 8:49 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 9:48 PM

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have invited you today to talk about the future. Through the launch of The Dubai Strategic Plan, which will cover the coming years, we will advance towards achieving our goals, and towards ensuring a prosperous future for our nation.

First of all I would like to point out that The Dubai Strategic Plan, despite having its own logic and specific goals, is within the national arena of the United Arab Emirates, and is aligned with the country's overall strategic plan, which is about to be completed by The Cabinet under the direction of His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates.

The plan which we present to you today encompasses many new attributes compared to earlier plans, with a foundation firmly built on quantitative achievements which form a solid ground for sustained growth in the era of knowledge.

The plan is also free of the direct influence of oil price fluctuations. We have succeeded in diversifying Dubai's sources of income and reduced dependence on oil, such that oil's contribution to GDP is a mere 3 per cent today.

Naturally, the objectives of the plan converge with my vision for Dubai which is aimed at elevating the well being of this nation and its people, and at bolstering Dubai's position as a globally leading Arab city.

We have come a long way towards achieving the objectives of this vision. Indeed we have exceeded all expectations and predictions. When I announced my Vision for Dubai in the year 2000, I spoke of economic aims for the year 2010. In fact, not only have these aims been realised, but they have been exceeded in half the time ...

In 2000, the plan was to increase GDP to 30 billion dollars by 2010. This figure was exceeded in 2005, with GDP reaching 37 billion dollars. The plan also included an increase of GDP per capita to 23,000 dollars by the year 2010. In 2005 the average GDP per capita reached 31,000 dollars. In other words, in five years we exceeded the economic targets that were originally planned for a 10-year period.

These achievements would not have been possible were it not for our persistence in challenging ourselves and in building and channelling our capabilities in the right direction in order to serve our initiatives, projects and programmes in all aspects of comprehensive development.

Results made possible by leadership and initiative of the government

How were these exceptional results achieved?

The truth is that these exceptional results were made possible mainly by the leadership and initiative of the government, which has appreciated the importance of investment to the Emirate and has strived to improve the Emirate's investment and business environment.

There is no need to detail Government's initiatives. You have all experienced them first hand in multiple aspects including the development and modernisation of public services, institutional frameworks, legislation, regulation, and infrastructure; or through the launch of strategic projects such as tourism ventures, Internet and Media Cities, the Dubai International Financial Centre, specialised zones, and other mega projects.

These initiatives are the driving force behind development and the main factor in attracting investors. These initiatives also encouraged the private sector, enhanced its confidence and gave it substantial opportunities. It quickly followed the Government's lead and became a true partner in development.

Over the last few years another very important achievement came to light: Economic Restructuring. The non-oil sectors played a more prominent role in 2006 contributing 97 per cent to GDP, as compared to 90 per cent in 2000, and approximately 46 per cent in 1975. The services sector was the driving force behind economic growth, with a GDP contribution of 74 per cent, mirroring economies of the developed world.

Diversification a historic success

Our success in diversifying sources of income has compensated for low oil reserves. Our economic development is now supported by an infrastructure that is not directly affected by oil.

This is a historic achievement, one which can benefit neighbouring and friendly oil-producing countries in their efforts to restructure their economies and diversify their sources of income.

We were in a race against time and we won. But as I have always said, the race has only just begun. With these achievements comes new hurdles, responsibilities, and challenges... The Dubai Strategic Plan systematically addresses these until the year 2015.

The plan covers five key sectors: economic development; social development; infrastructure, land and environment; security, justice and safety; and government excellence.

At this point I would like to present an overview of the headlines outlining the aims for each sector within the plan.

Based on the exceptional economic performance of the past years and on expected future global trends, the economic objectives for Dubai for the year 2015 are to sustain real economic growth at a rate of 11 per cent per annum, to reach a GDP of 108 billion dollars in 2015, and to increase real GDP per capita to $44,000 dollars.

Focus on sectors with competitive advantage

We will focus on economic sectors that we have strong competitive advantage in and that are expected to experience future growth globally.

As can be seen from the following diagram, the sectors of strength are: tourism, transport, trade, construction, and financial services; In addition to the creation of new sectors with sustainable competitive edge.

However, success in strategic development cannot be defined solely by major achievements in these economic sectors; other growth enablers must also realise similar achievements: human capital, productivity, innovation, cost of doing business and living, quality of life, policy and institutional frameworks, and laws and regulations.

These factors have demanded great attention in the past, and will demand more attention in the future. The public and private sectors need to take measures to consolidate and deepen these factors.

We must all realise that strategic success requires social development to complement and parallel economic development. Indeed experience confirms that having an effective social infrastructure is the key to reaching higher levels of sustained economic growth.

Social development has always been at the heart of government policies; it is also prevalent in this strategic plan. This plan is aimed at elevating nationals' well being, and we want nationals to be the key instrument in its implementation.

Strategic objectives in seven key areas

To lay the foundations necessary for social development, the plan places a set of programmes to achieve strategic objectives in seven key areas:

First: Preserve national identity. This will be achieved by revising policies and procedures to ensure demographic balance; increasing the sense of belonging and the awareness of local culture by updating educational curriculum and developing the capabilities of national teaching resources; ensuring comprehensive cultural content through relevant activities and channels including media, arts and literature; and increasing focus on the Arabic language as it encompasses national history and culture.

Second: Increase nationals' participation in the workforce and society. This will be achieved by developing National human capital to become the preferred workforce in selected strategic sectors; providing nationals with the capabilities necessary to cope with the rapid changes in society and increase their awareness of the role expected of them in the development of Dubai and its society.

Third: Improve education, especially public schools, and ensure that all nationals have access to quality education opportunities. This will be achieved by improving governance in the educational sector; increasing accountability and transparency of schools; improving the quality of teachers and administration; upgrading curriculums and teaching methods; improving the educational environment to improve the public's perception and attitudes towards education; and integrating people with special needs into public and private schools.

Fourth: Elevate the quality of healthcare services and the wellbeing of the population. This will be achieved by improving governance of the healthcare sector; improving healthcare planning; ensuring access to health insurance; encouraging private hospitals to gain international accreditation; developing licensing standards for medical staff; and focusing on health awareness to improve public attitudes towards health.

Fifth: Ensure that high quality social services are provided to meet the needs of nationals. This will be achieved by improving governance and efficiency of the social service sector; transforming service philosophy from a "welfare" approach to a "social development" approach; improving the quality and capabilities of social workers; and increasing awareness of social services and encourage community involvement.

Sixth: Provide equality and acceptable working conditions for Dubai's workforce in order to attract and retain the required expertise. This will be achieved by coordinating with federal entities to improve and update labour laws and labour rights; establishing appropriate mechanisms for the enforcement of legislations and regulations; and raising employers' and employees' awareness of their legal rights and responsibilities.

Seventh: Promote cultural life in Dubai by upgrading the regulatory framework of the cultural sector; increasing awareness and interest in Dubai's cultural activities; encouraging and nurturing national talent; developing high-quality facilities, including theatres, movie houses and museums, to attract international art and culture events; encouraging effective participation in regional and international cultural events; and encouraging and supporting the initiatives of the private sector that aim at enhancing the cultural and artistic momentum.

In this concern, I would like to laud the distinguished initiatives of the outstanding entrepreneurs, Juma Al Majid, Majid Al Futtaim and the late Sultan Al Owais for their efforts in supporting the cultural movement in the Emirate

It is common knowledge that it is far easier to build financial capital than it is to build intellectual, psychological and moral capital. Building a road or a bridge may take a year or two, but developing people takes a lifetime. We live today in an era of ever changing knowledge, which requires continuous learning that does not end at a certain level or at the attainment of a diploma or certain expertise. Social development, in all its aspects, requires distinct programmes, outstanding performance, patience and special criteria for measurement and evaluation.

The Government will remain dedicated to social development, but the desired success will require broad participation by society and its creative interaction with the anticipated social development programmes and projects.

Having outlined the headlines and aims for the Social Development Sector, we move to the infrastructure, land and environment sector. As you are aware, Dubai today offers infrastructure at the best global standards. This infrastructure was the cornerstone in promoting development and achieving Dubai's status and international comparative edge.

Plan set forth for infrastructure, land and environment sector

To ensure sustainable development of the infrastructure, land and environment sector, the plan sets forth specific objectives within four strategic areas:

First: Improve urban planning to optimise land use in order to meet the needs of sustainable development while preserving natural resources. This involves comprehensive and integrated planning of the elements of urban development; promoting policies concerning Nationals' housing; ensuring public services and facilities for growth; providing adequate supply of housing for low and medium income families; and upgrading existing labor housing policies and ensuring enforcement.

Second: Meet and secure energy, electricity and water needs. This involves developing an integrated policy framework; securing long-term supplies; and studying options for managing demand.

Third: Provide an integrated road and transportation system to facilitate people and goods movement while improving safety levels for all system users. This involves addressing current congestion problems, and accommodating future needs by increasing the share of public transportation and decreasing transport by private vehicles; increasing the capacity of road networks and transportation systems; securing optimal use through modern techniques, demand management, and accident and emergency management.

Fourth: Sustain Dubai's environment, ensuring that it is safe and clean. This involves upgrading and aligning environmental regulations with international standards; developing the required enforcement mechanisms; integrating environment-related issues into development policies and programmes; and raising the level of environmental awareness. God has showered us with countless blessings; one word best describes the majority of these blessings: Security. All of man's efforts are carried out in the belief that they will bring security: personal security, psychological security, economic security, social security, and political security. Without security life becomes a living hell, and talk of development, quality, excellence and success becomes worthless, idle chatter.

Security, justice and safety

The grace of God coupled with effective policies and dedicated people, have made the United Arab Emirates one of safest countries in the world, and Dubai one of the safest cities. Our 5is designed to ensure that the security, justice and safety sector is able to keep up with the economic and social growth such that it can always continue to ensure justice and safety for individuals and the community as a whole. This will be achieved as follows:

First: Preserve security, order, and peace by improving the efficiency and capability of criminal investigations; increasing patrols whose presence acts as a deterrent to criminal intentions; increasing operational efficiency and effectiveness in responding to the public; ensuring information security; and developing electronic inter-governmental data-sharing.

Second: Preserve rights and freedoms by enhancing transparency in the Security Sector.

Third: Alert crisis management by effective planning and programmes aimed at ensuring the readiness of the entities concerned and the availability of needed equipment to face possible crisis and disasters.

Fourth: Ease litigation by lifting barriers that hinder access to litigation or recourse to the judicial system; and facilitating resolution of labour disputes.

Fifth: Ensure equality, impartiality, accuracy, and clarity of investigations and judgments by activating the role of judicial inspection; improving mechanisms for resolving rental disputes; and improving the quality of investigations and rulings.

Sixth: Expedite the process of case disposal by activating commercial arbitration; enhancing the efficiency of case management systems; reducing the timeframe for implementing rulings issued by the courts and judiciary committees.

Seventh: Ensure the safety of all of Dubai's residents, workers and visitors by updating safety legislations, specifications and standards; developing and implementing programs to regulate key segments within the various areas of security; unifying and developing enforcement and monitoring systems as it pertains to Dubai; and raising the level of coordination with relevant enforcement departments at the federal level.

Eighth: Protect public health and improve quality of life by updating legislation and specifications; developing facilities and mechanisms for monitoring and controlling the implementation of public health systems; and developing contingency plans to deal with incidents and threats to public health.

Five long-term strategic principles

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The government represents the engine that drives the process of development. Over the past few years, the government was a pioneer in upgrading services, management, institutional frameworks, regulatory and administrative frameworks, in accordance with the best and highest international standards.

In order to achieve the desired performance the government plan focuses on five long-term strategic principles:

First Thrust: Strengthen strategic and forward-looking focus through an effective government administration that is notable for taking initiative and for making objective assessments; developing strategies that are aligned across sectors and which are free of conflicts and overlaps; setting guidelines and building capabilities necessary within government for effective strategic planning and policy making; developing mechanisms for risk assessment and management; setting mechanisms to evaluate policies and decisions after implementation.

Second Thrust:Activate streamlined and accountable organizations by ensuring accountability and transparency in all government practices; modernising government's institutional structures; empowering policy-making functions within government institutions; and implementing performance management systems and indicators.

In this regard, I confirm that Director Generals of government departments organisations will be held accountable to the Executive Council for the implementation of the strategic plan. They will be evaluated against their attainment of key performance indicators and targets to be set separately for each department.

Third Thrust: Increase efficiency and financial management by applying performance-based budgeting and resource allocation; linking budgets to the strategic plan; upgrading accounting policies; establishing partnerships with the private sector and independent institutions to provide select services; introducing the latest technologies and systems to enhance operational efficiency and to improve service delivery.

Fourth Thrust: Enhance responsiveness and customer service by continuing the implementation of the Dubai Government Excellence Programme; establishing a comprehensive and integrated customer care system; and by offering an electronic customer complaints system.

Fifth Thrust: Empower and motivate public sector employees by reviewing and updating current civil service law and practices; implementing a training and developing system; implementing a unified and comprehensive employee performance management system; and developing specialised training programmes to raise the capabilities of staff at all levels including senior management.

The plan before you does not constitute a collection of mute words and static texts. It represents a way of thinking, a tool by which to measure and evaluate, a map that outlines our path to the future and that helps us make the right choices and reach accurate conclusions. The plan is our guide and our reference while we are in the midst of working to elevate Dubai as a pioneering global city bursting with vibrancy and creativity. An environment where living and working is a pleasure, attracting the best minds and the most successful businesses.

I want to pause here at the term global city ... What do we mean by Dubai as a global city?! ... Some people are afraid of the word global, believing it to be in contrast to everything local including our national and cultural identity.

The concept of the word global is based on a set of criteria accepted by the world community and is the by-product of successful practices of a broad spectrum of human experiences. The principles set forth by international laws concerning human rights and international relations are the universal standards which should apply to all countries of the world.

Practices relating to good governance, transparency, accountability and the rule of law have become the accepted global standards for the classification of countries and for defining countries' potential and economic and cultural status.

The best practices in the areas of management, quality, excellence and innovation are the criteria that determine the ability of states, societies, companies, services and industries to survive, prosper and compete in this global village and single international market.

When we say Dubai is a global city, we mean the implementation of international standards and best practices in the details of our lives, work, institutions and society.

This implementation not only urges development and ensures that our economy can keep up with global growth, but also develops and helps to shape our national and cultural identity and character. Thus, empowering our culture to interact and enter dialogues with the contemporary world.

Adopting best global standards and practices is the only way to preserve national and cultural identity. Without it, no identity or culture will be able to endure and survive in a world where all borders, restrictions and barriers have fallen.

We are all aware that plans always involve a degree of calculated risk. The plan for 2007 to 2015 also involves a degree of calculated risk, yet it enjoys a high degree of confidence, certainty and optimism based on our proven accuracy in the direction we have adopted, the successes we have achieved, and the experiences we have gained over the past years ... these factors are priceless.

The Dubai Strategic Plan was prepared by a team encompassing vast experience from governmental, economic and social entities.

My Executive Office will monitor the progress of The Plan's programmes and will remove any obstacles to ensure proper implementation and rapid execution.

One of the key criteria to evaluate departments, organisations and managers will be their level of compliance and success in implementing this plan.

I want you all to make enough time to study this plan. I want all governmental and national departments and organisations to transform the plan into a working culture and a way of life.

I want the private sector to digest the plan, to absorb it, and to benefit from its programmes and projects. The private sector is called upon to play a larger role. We place this document at its disposal in the hope that it will act as a compass directing their way and lighting the path ahead over the years to come.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I trust in God almighty. I depend on God first and foremost, and then on the brain and brawn of the children of this nation, to them I entrust much ... and from them I expect much.

In the past I told you that we will succeed ... and we did.

And today I tell you that I see further success in the future ...

As we have succeeded in the past, we will succeed in the future. We will write new pages in our nation's epic of glory, pride and achievement. We will inspire our nation, and we will set the example. We will present to our world proof that we are capable of action, capable of imposing our presence, capable of communicating, interacting, co-existing, and cooperating with all other cultures and civilisations.

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