Innovation has played a key role in helping the UAE tackle the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and will continue to be a critical element in meeting the challenges of the future, experts said.
Nidal Abou-Ltaif, president of Avaya International, said that technology innovation is demonstrably key to tackling the challenges of the future, but it is not the only factor to consider.
“Innovation needs to be pragmatic, with clear use cases that deliver return on investment – whether that return is measured in dollars or perhaps another metric like customer satisfaction. Innovation with no strategy behind it does little to advance society,” he said. “The world is undergoing a digital transformation journey at an accelerated pace, and organisations have no choice but to adapt quickly or be left behind.”
“Technology has proven its worth over the last year, helping people to adapt to changing circumstances quickly and continue with their lives. Innovation has helped schools, businesses, healthcare providers, and many others to continue functioning seamlessly,” he added.
Innovation is part of the pillar ‘United in Knowledge’ of Vision 2021, which focuses on innovative Emiratis building a competitive economy. One of the Key Performance Indicators of this pillar is the Global Innovation Index. The UAE is ranked 34th globally and first regionally in the 2020 Global Innovation Index. The UAE’s rank improved by two positions from last year while the country continues to lead the region for the fifth consecutive year. The UAE’s progress cements its status as one of the world’s most innovative countries.
Amir Kanaan, MD for the Middle East, Turkey and Africa at Kaspersky, noted that the UAE has always focused heavily on innovation – from its initiative of sending the first Emirati to the International Space Station (ISS) to being ranked as the most innovative Arab nation of 2020 by the Global Innovation Index in 2020.
“Innovation plays a key role in tackling the challenges of the future,” he said. “The United Arab Emirates has always been at the forefront of innovation in every aspect from 5G technology to driverless cars and of course by providing its citizens and residents with world-class technology which makes their lives easier. UAE Innovation Month is another groundbreaking initiative that is spearheaded by the UAE government. The UAE has always been the hub of innovation and this initiative stands testament to the UAE’s drive to build a better future for its citizens and residents. We are looking forward to being a part of the UAE’s journey towards achieving a bright and innovative future.”
Like Kanaan, Nidal Abou-Ltaif said that the UAE is “way ahead of the curve” when it comes to its innovation journey. “Just look at some of the large-scale projects such as the Emirates Mars Mission, the Museum of the Future, and its investments in infrastructure, and it’s clear why the Annual Global Innovation Index ranks the UAE as the most innovative country in the Arab world. The effects of this drive are being felt today; on the ground, practical steps are being taken to enable businesses to reap the benefits of, for example, cloud-based technologies, while regulators are becoming more open to the idea of data sharing to drive more intelligent experiences for citizens.”
He added that the UAE is also making incredible progress towards the UAE Centennial Plan 2071, laid out by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to invest in future generations, prepare them for rapid changes, and to make the country the best in the world by 2071. “We are committed to supporting the country in this mission by retaining and extending our technology leadership through investment in innovation, and by expanding our ecosystem of partners and developers, all with a view to delivering increased value to our customers.”
Kanaan further explained that with technology constantly changing and advancing, innovation is one of the primary ways that allows us to find new techniques to take on even the most challenging problems.
“Looking ahead at the future, we would like to see a world that is cyber-immune,” he said. “Cyber Immunity means that an IT solution with it has inbuilt protection against the majority of types of cyberattacks, making them worthless and unprofitable. There may not be such thing as absolute security, but an IT system that has Cyber Immunity is virtually un-hackable, its critical functions that are specified at the design stage, can hardly by affected by a cyber threat.”
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