Opinion and Editorial

KT edit: UAE’s digital strategy now more global and inclusive

Filed on July 11, 2021

The pandemic has been devastating for millions, but digital technology has come to the aid of early-mover countries like the UAE. Smart tech solutions have been the silver lining in what has been a miserable year for most people. It has salvaged lives, jobs and careers when many had given up hope. It kept the wheels of the UAE economy running as most parts of the world went into lockdowns.

Movement restrictions meant people stayed home. Where would the world be now without digital technology that has helped us stay connected and make WFH (work from home) possible? The new reality in post-pandemic times will be this: Digital equals the new normal. It is efficient and speedy, and governments, including the UAE, have embraced it to make governance easier and available to residents 24/7. Indeed, we are making more connections via digital and doing more transactions virtually. Travel times have been curbed or are almost zero, so is pollution. The need for intermediaries has been dispensed with and there is no red tape or bureaucratic tangles. What we have seen is an evolution of people and systems. It’s a different working ecosystem and the UAE has managed to hold on its own during the crisis.

Life goes on, even flourishes for those in the digital space. It’s often called smart technology and Big Tech companies are laughing all the way to the bank. Now Big Governments want a slice of the action and are teaming up with these tech corporations for coding and programming for what could be called the next great disruption, or an even greater disruption. The UAE sees opportunity in this sector and has been an early adopter of smart technology from a decade ago as it began to diversify its economy from oil. In fact, the UAE made digital the normal almost a decade before the pandemic and is now reaping the benefits.

So, when His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, unveiled plans to attract 100,000 coders from across the world, he was scaling up the government’s digital strategy and making it more global and inclusive. At the local level, it intends to rope in more tech companies to train and develop talent. Golden visas are an added attraction. “The world is rapidly changing, and the fast-growing digital economy will create new types of jobs. To thrive in the ever-evolving world, we must be ready to quickly cope with the emerging trends,” Sheikh Mohammed tweeted. This shift in technology could mean that the old models of on-site training and education could soon be a thing of the past. It could herald reforms in the sector that has gone virtual during the pandemic. Digital is almost omnipresent. It never sleeps, just like the UAE, which is open for business 24/7.

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