UAE the most creative Mena country, survey finds

UAE the most creative Mena country, survey finds

Respondents list lack of knowledge, tools, money, and age as challenges to creativity.

By Staff Report

Published: Sun 22 Feb 2015, 6:03 PM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 11:57 PM

Dubai: Middle Eastern professionals value creativity and innovation, with the UAE perceived to be the most creative country in the region, a recently conducted poll by and the Dubai International Academic City (DIAC) has revealed.

The ‘Education and Innovation in the Middle East and North Africa’ poll, found that 89 per cent of respondents in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) consider creativity and innovation to be an important part of their life, out of which, 63.3 per cent consider it ‘extremely important’. Eight out of 10 (84.3 per cent) respondents feel that they live up to their potential to create and innovate.

In addition, 64.9 per cent of respondents ‘strongly agree’, and 24.1 per cent ‘somewhat agree’ that creative thinking is important for driving social and economic growth. In the region, the UAE is perceived to be the most creative country, according to 51.5 per cent of respondents. This is not a surprising perception, as the UAE was ranked 24th for innovation by the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Competitiveness Index (out of 144 countries).

Suhail Masri, VP of sales at said: “Creativity is a major cornerstone of the knowledge economy, which in turn is recognised as the driver of productivity and economic growth. Indeed, creativity is a great intrinsic motivator, the essence for innovation, and important for the continued evolution of the self and humankind. Without innovation in science, art, healthcare, and management, humanity would not have been able to achieve huge strides of development.”

“Creativity and the ability to innovate is clearly a crucial part of today’s working society, especially for job seekers looking to secure a new position, and professionals who want to succeed at work. From their side, companies must also play a role in encouraging creativity by providing an atmosphere that nurtures innovation and creative ideas, which will be very beneficial in the long run,” Masri added.

On the career front, the majority of respondents (88.5 per cent) agree that creative thinking and related skill sets are important for getting a job in today’s market, as people are increasingly being asked to think creatively at work, according to 86.9 per cent of respondents. Interestingly, nine out of 10 (89 per cent) respondents say that they are encouraged to think of new ideas at work, and 72.1 per cent claim that their office has creative spaces in which they can relax, unwind and innovate.

The biggest challenge to creativity is money, according to 42 per cent of respondents. Other factors that stifle creativity and innovation according to respondents are lack of knowledge and tools (15.8 per cent), age (10.1 per cent), and not enough time (nine per cent).

When respondents were asked whether standardised education testing systems reduce creative thinking, the majority agreed (75.1 per cent). Add to that, a whopping 73 per cent believe that their creativity is being stifled by the educational system in their country, and 41.9 per cent believe that their country’s education system is not innovative enough to adapt to changing times.

Dr. Ayoub Kazim, managing director of Dubai Knowledge Village, said: “The UAE’s top ranking within the study as the most creative country in Mena is testament to the success of the Government’s strategy to develop knowledge-based economy. As we move towards an innovation-based economy, it is important that we identify the barriers to us achieving further creativity and enables us to form a strategy to overcome them, as the study highlights.”

Kazim explained: “We see an important role for DKV and DIAC in this endeavour, primarily in bridging the gap between industry and academia by encouraging and enabling our universities and training institutes to teach and empower students to become more innovative so as to better prepare them for the workforce, achieving a sustainable economic growth and subsequently moving up in the Innovation Index ranking.”

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