UAE is embracing advanced tech to combat economic, societal challenges: Abeer Tahlak

The Director of MBRCGI spoke about the organisation’s bid to excel and reach dizzying heights as it celebrates UAE Innovates this month



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Joydeep Sengupta

Published: Fri 11 Feb 2022, 10:32 AM

Last updated: Fri 11 Feb 2022, 10:33 AM

The Mohammed Bin Rashid Centre (MBRCGI) for Government Innovation was established to stimulate and enrich the culture of innovation within the government sector through the development of an integrated innovation framework.

The goal is for innovation to become one of the key pillars of the UAE government in line with the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and his aim to develop government operations and enhance the country’s competitiveness.

Abeer Tahlak, Director of MBRCGI, spoke exclusively with Khaleej Times about the organisation’s bid to excel and reach dizzying heights as it celebrates UAE Innovates in February.

Edited excerpts from the interview:

When did the UAE Government conceive UAE Innovates? What was the inspiration behind it?

UAE Innovates 2022, is a nationwide event that builds on past years' successes, reflecting the directives of the UAE’s visionary leadership, in promoting innovative practices in government work and adopting it as a daily practice.

UAE Innovates was launched in 2016 following the success of the UAE Innovation Week in 2015.

Now, this huge event has been an annual milestone in the UAE that takes place across all seven emirates in February.

It is one of the largest nationwide innovation festivals in the world and aims to enhance the innovation within the UAE and promote it as a national priority among local and federal government entities, as well as the wider public.

Through various events and activities, UAE Innovates aims to engage the community in developing future-proof initiatives that improve the society’s well-being and help create more resilient government models.

Primarily, it celebrates innovation across the country and recognises innovators who are supporting its national agenda and objectives.

How far has UAE Innovates’ objective been realised since it was launched in 2016?

UAE Innovates has significantly contributed to the country’s innovation ecosystem. The country has consistently moved up the rankings in the Global Innovation Index reaching 33rd globally and first regionally in the index. UAE Innovates has been an important part of this trend.

The initiative has helped to inspire, develop and implement many impactful solutions for multiple fields, including food waste, government services, society well-being, civil defence and security. Additionally, it has played an important role in helping the UAE Government become one of the most agile and innovative in the world - indeed, the country is now regarded as a global innovation hub.

One of the key elements of the initiative, UAE Innovates Award, has helped to enhance public sector innovation by stimulating healthy competition. The award programme comprises six categories and concludes with a special ceremony at the end of February.

How is MBRCGI enabling innovative capabilities and enriching the innovation culture in the UAE?

MBRCGI is enabling innovative capabilities and enriching the innovation culture in the UAE through a range of initiatives and programmes - for example, UAE Innovates, Edge of Government and Ibtekar, which means innovation in Arabic. By facilitating collaboration between the academia, private and public sectors, the entity is promoting the country’s innovation ecosystem.

MBRCGI also provides world-class training courses for the UAE government employees that inspires and motivates young talent, top innovators, and future leaders.

This is exemplified by the recent launch of the Youth Innovation Council and our Moonshot Apprenticeship Program and Pilot Grant. One of the greatest contributions MBRCGI makes is helping top talent and innovators from around the world to collaborate with and work in the UAE.

How is the UAE preparing for future challenges using advanced technologies and solutions?

We’re currently living in an era of rapid environmental, social and economic change, which is creating unpredictable challenges.

The UAE is investing heavily in identifying these challenges and enabling, promoting, and embracing advanced technologies and solutions to combat them.

Innovation programmes, such as those led by MBRCGI, are positioned to discover, nurture and implement solutions and technologies across government entities and important fields such as sustainability, supply chains and food security.

The UAE is also leveraging Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies, such as big data, data analysis, automation and AI to support government policy making which is based on facts and data analysis.

The UAE government and its entities, such as MBRCGI, will continue to support the development of solutions that protect citizens, improve their well-being, and help the readiness for any future challenges.

Has MBRCGI emerged as the leading innovation hub for government entities in the Middle East and the wider region? What have been the challenges in achieving this status?

We believe so, yes. MBRCGI is supporting the UAE Government to become one of the most agile and innovative governments in the world.

We see ourselves as a leading facilitator and catalyst for government entities and capabilities. Some of the greatest challenges have come from attempting to drive a shift in the mindset across the public sector, to think out of the box and generate disruptive ideas and unconventional challenges solutions.

Another obstacle has been identifying talents from vast pools around the world and attracting them to live and work in the UAE through different government initiatives. By overcoming these challenges, we have elevated our position as the leading innovation hub for government entities in the Middle East.

MBRCGI has empowered young talents and built their capabilities to become future leaders.

Our goal is to contribute significantly to the UAE’s status as a global innovation hub, developing future-proof initiatives to improve government models and societies.


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