Shaping the UAE into the world’s next tech centre of excellence

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A think tank of senior executives and academics from the UAE’s technology and telecoms industry has called for more incentives to drive investment and innovation in the sector.

The UAE Technology Think Tank also said that next generation broadband telecoms (5G) should be made accessible to as many people as possible to help the UAE become a centre of excellence for technology research and innovation.

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The think tank also recommended increased regulatory reforms to create an enabling environment that will support innovation and product development and accelerate the development of the UAE’s tech sector.

The actions are among recommendations contained in the first white paper from the UAE Technology Think Tank.

Established in June by Mashreq Bank and business intelligence service MEED, the group looked at the opportunity for the UAE from the roll out of ultra-fast 5G telecoms networks.

It also assessed the potential barriers to the UAE achieving its tech ambitions and what steps could be taken to overcome those challenges.

The report provides 18 recommendations, which if implemented, will create an environment to support a strong tech sector in the UAE that enables success for future generations.

The report said that the advent of 5G will present numerous opportunities, enabling several new use cases for the technology. These include the potential roll-out of autonomous vehicles, virtualising urban space through augmented/virtual reality, as well as the use of wearables to improve workplace safety.

However, numerous challenges were also identified including the significantly less investment into R&D when compared to major tech hubs globally.

Another major challenge is attracting and retaining core talent, due to a high cost of living and doing business within the country.

Hind Eisa Salim, executive vice-president and head of services and manufacturing at Mashreq Bank, said: “The UAE has significantly invested in world-class infrastructure that has laid much of the groundwork to realise its ambition of becoming one of the most technologically advanced countries by 2030. However, alongside the enormous potential to transform the tech sector, there also exists several challenges which requires strategic change.

“Going forward, our report finds that the close collaboration between government, industry and universities is key to enabling the future potential of the UAE tech sector – as well as building a thriving national technology ecosystem that will support expansion and help achieve its smart city goals.”

The recommendations identified by the Think Tank centre around four key themes including agile regulation, harnessing the power of 5G, retaining and attracting the best talent as well as research and development.

The recommendations also emphasise the need for more collaborative relationships between the government, private sector and educational sector – which if tapped into, can support the diversification of the economy, promote competition, develop regional domains of expertise and attract and nurture the best industry talent within the technology sector.

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