The last 12 months marked the first year of the UAE’s journey toward the ‘next 50’. At the country’s Golden Jubilee Anniversary in 2021, the leadership announced aspirations to cultivate new plans that would empower the next generation to advance the UAE’s development agenda. These aspirations have most recently been reaffirmed in the ‘We The UAE 2031 strategy, outlining the country’s development path for the next 10 years.
While the UAE has made many notable strides in technology advancement, four priorities will be particularly critical in establishing one of the world’s most resilient digital economies: inclusive connectivity, sustainability, local skills development, and industrial digitization.
The UAE was early to recognize the need to drive access to universal connectivity and extend digital opportunities to all. In fact, high-speed, high bandwidth 5G infrastructure has enabled individuals and organizations across the UAE to tap into the modern digital economy.
According to a recent Ericsson ConsumerLab study, UAE consumers are among the early adopters of 5G. Almost half of consumers in the UAE intend to sign up for 5G subscription in 2023. Twenty per cent already have a 5G-ready device and based on the readiness on the phone and attitudes towards 5G, we expect about 8 million to sign up for 5G subscription in 2023.
Today, telecom operators in the UAE are not only making 5G ubiquitous throughout the country, but improving the energy efficiency of their networks to provide sustainable networks. Ericsson’s recent partnership with e& by Etisalat to improve network energy efficiency through the deployment of the latest Ericsson Radio System portfolio across the service provider’s network is one such example. We also collaborated on a MoU to reduce carbon emissions and energy consumption through such initiatives as the product ‘Take-Back Program’ to drive responsible disposal and recycling of e-waste across the Group’s network.
Local skills development
Organizations across the UAE have been quick to acknowledge that even the world’s most advanced digital infrastructure is only of value when people can leverage it. Over the past year, the UAE has again reaffirmed its position at the forefront of digital skills development. Various UAE schools have already brought in lessons in blockchain, artificial intelligence, and other emerging tech fields to prepare them for the future job market.
The country has identified coding as a critical skill for the development of the digital economy and is encouraging students to enhance their programming capabilities through hackathons and schemes like the recently launched ‘UAE Codes’ day that attracted over 200 participants from 50 different schools.
Last year. Ericsson ran the ‘Together Apart’ Hackathon, under the patronage of the UAE’s Ministry of Economy, to stimulate ideas and innovations that address challenges across healthcare, sustainable environment, and education. Initiatives such as the Ericsson Graduate Program in the UAE now offer Emirati talent career development opportunities involving technologies such as 5G, IoT, and cloud, to ensure the nation thrives in the digital economy.
Earlier this year, the UAE launched a 10-year strategy to increase the industrial sector’s contribution to the country’s GDP from the current Dh133 billion to Dh300 billion. Dubbed ‘Operation 300bn’, the strategy aims to position the UAE as a global industrial hub and improve the country’s ranking in the Competitive Industrial Performance Index.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is one of the main pillars of ‘Operation 300bn’ and it aims to accelerate digital transformation across the industrial sector. Real-time collaboration enabled by 5G, robotics, artificial intelligence, digital twin technology, powered by renewable energy sources, will be critical to realizing the promise of the 4IR.
Onward to the digital economy
Through these four lenses, it is clear how the UAE prepares to further develop one of the world’s most resilient digital economies. Innovative policies and associated investments behind inclusive connectivity, sustainability, skills development, and industrial digitization will contribute toward propelling the UAE into the ranks of the world’s leading countries.
As we look to the next 50 years, the nation will no doubt continue to benefit from connectivity as the digital infrastructure foundation underpinning her journey to become the best country in the world and a knowledge-driven nation.