Innovation is a transformational driver of the UAE’s progress moving forward, and will play a key role in addressing the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, experts said.
Speaking to Khaleej Times during the week-long UAE Innovates 2021 event, Dr. Dalya Al Muthanna, president of GE in the UAE and the global chief of Strategy & Operations for GE International Markets, said that the UAE was among the first nations globally to address the challenges of the pandemic, and with its strong track-record, is on the road to recovery and growth.
“Advances across sectors will continue this trend, and the UAE is well-positioned to both drive and benefit from innovation,” she said. “Innovation is the engine of growth for nations, organisations, and the world. It is central in addressing the challenges we face today and in the future.”
The UAE is consistently raising the bar on innovation, she added. “The government has made great strides in furthering advanced technologies such as 3D printing, AI and digital solutions, and the most efficient machines in industry to provide power, healthcare, and transportation to its people. The leadership has set out a clear strategy for innovation and is institutionalizing practices to foster it, while also encouraging the private sector to establish engineering, technology, and research centers.”
Experts have noted that the concerted efforts of the government and its dedicated partners – like GE – have contributed to tangible results. In the latest edition of the GE Global Innovation Barometer, which surveys leaders from around the world, business executives in the UAE ranked the nation as a global leader in creating an ‘innovation-conducive environment.’ The Barometer also found that innovation is a force of positive change: over two-thirds of respondents believe that innovation should deliver long-term societal benefit, rather than just short-term profitability. This shows the commitment of leaders in the UAE to focus on innovation to promote positive change.
Muhammad Chbib, CEO of Tradeling, pointed out that, over the past years, the UAE has built a remarkable digital infrastructure, based on the foundations of innovation. The nation launched many applications and technologies that played a major role in monitoring and addressing the challenges of the pandemic. Various health apps provided government and health agencies with accurate data on Covid-19 patients enabling them to isolate and monitor, and ultimately helping to manage the pandemic.
“Innovation also contributed to the development of a vaccine in record time for the healthcare sector. The national vaccination programme, today being conducted seamlessly, also is a result of tech-driven innovation,” Chbib said. “The UAE is committed to instilling a culture of innovation to drive its vision for the future. It continues to support innovators in every possible way to design and develop future experiences, and to create proactive solutions that address future challenges.”
Chbib said that he believes that innovation needs to be driven through the eyes of customers. In terms of future challenges, we are looking at a world that has increased population, intensified global trade interactions, famine and food-security issues, and many more challenges, he said.
“When we look at how technology can help, the first thing that comes to my mind is the whole area of blockchain technologies which enables distribution, yet secure and encrypted storage and exchange of information,” he explained. “Augmented and virtual reality applications are the second category that comes to mind, i.e, while you’re in the Mena region, dealing with suppliers abroad, you will be able to take a close look at the supplier/factory you are interacting with and can take a 3D look at the technical specifics of the products you are about to order without having to travel. It is a very exciting prospect!”
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