Idex talks: Guidance, long-term vision of UAE leaders helped country fight Covid-19, says top health official

New technologies, including cloud computing, drones, social media, advanced data analytics and AI can be utilised to deal with any future pandemic

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Ismail Sebugwaawo

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Published: Thu 23 Feb 2023, 7:05 PM

Last updated: Thu 23 Feb 2023, 8:01 PM

The guidance, insight, and the long-term vision of UAE leadership helped the country in combating the Covid-19 pandemic, a top health official told the gathering at the ongoing defence exhibition in Abu Dhabi.

During the first session at the International Defence Exhibition (Idex) and Navy Defence Exhibition (Navdex) Talks titled “Reflecting the message of the UAE’s leadership to shape our future success: The case of the Covid-19 Pandemic”, Dr. Farida Al Hosani, Executive Director of Infectious Diseases & Official Spokesperson of the UAE Health Sector, said: “One of the major factors that contributed to our successful response to the Covid-19 pandemic in the UAE was the guidance, insight, and the long-term vision of our leadership.

“I believe that communication and media played a very important role in our response strategy. If you do not engage with the community, they will not respond. This is what we saw in certain countries. Building trust is very important and connecting with people is something that needs to be built in advance.”

She added: “We used more than 14 languages in our messaging, including an official daily briefing from the government to ensure that people are not misled by social media or messages from other countries. There was complexity associated with code management and storing the vaccine, therefore we worked hard to expand our ability to store new vaccines that require different temperatures and we increased our capacity to around $6 billion to store not only for UAE but other countries regionally and globally.

Al Hosani added: “We covered most of our population with the first and second dose, and also most of our population took their first booster. I think this was a major element because once we had more than 50 percent of our population vaccinated the severity of the disease dramatically changed.

“New technologies, including cloud computing, drones, social media, advanced data analytics and AI can be utilised to deal with any future pandemic. Therefore, we need to adapt to these new technologies and ensure that we have the right regulation to ensure that we can implement these in the right way.”

Country keen on cyber security

During the second session titled “Cyber security future 2030: How to develop a sustainable defensive ecosystem”, Dr. Bushra Al Blooshi, Deputy Director of Information Services at Dubai Electronic Security Centre, said: “The cyber security challenges might impact the economy’s growth or physical security of the countries themselves. In the UAE, we have one of the world's busiest airports connecting to over 240 cities globally, and most importantly when it comes to safety, the UAE is ranked as one of the top countries having physical safety and security. The UAE is balancing between digital transformation cybersecurity and all of those global regional competitive measures.”

“Cyber Security isn't something that you should wait for but it's something that you should create so being able to adapt within the digital transformation, and using cybersecurity as an enabler for economy can be one of the growth catalysts of this country.”

Al Blooshi noted that the UAE is expecting and aiming to have 25 of its buildings to be 3d printed by 2030. “We are aiming to have 25 vehicles in the road within Dubai to be to be connected vehicles autonomous and we are expecting 25 of the total power output to come from the clean energy by 2030. All of those targets and commitments that we give to the leadership of this country is pushing the technological advancements in the country and putting challenges on the cybersecurity sector,” he added.

Idex and Navdex Talks are held for the first time at the Idex and Navdex exhibitions under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, continue with their sessions that attract thought leaders, policy makers and world-renowned experts to discuss pressing issues in the defence sector.

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