Activities have resumed, but taking public-private partnerships to new levels is vital for the economy. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

The COVID-19 crisis has been impacting every aspect of life and work. The pandemic has also underpinned the need for businesses to be agile to remain competitive.

The undeniable truth is that we need to be more responsible and stand united. In a world without COVID-19, our tried and tested ideas, approaches and outlook will be redundant, calling for organisations to place agility at the heart of their operations.

The UAE has demonstrated in its fight against this pandemic resilience as well its emergency response readiness, and successful planning and action. Now with a gradual return to normalcy, the nation serves as a model for how public and private collaboration is crucial in addressing challenges.

See More

With our leadership paving the way – not only through guidance but by empowering frontline heroes - the UAE took strong measures to ensure the wellbeing of the community is put first and to facilitate business continuity. And the results were remarkable: Businesses have returned to near-normal working hours with all safety protocols in place. These steps are crucial to speed up the economy’s recovery.

Setting up the platform

The level of preparedness draws inspiration from the theme of Year 2020 – ‘Preparation for the Next 50’ - as measures have been put in place to stimulate the nation’s progress while addressing the immediate challenges posed by the COVID-19 situation.

With ambitious programmes including Dubai 10X, a government-wide initiative that aims to place Dubai 10 years ahead of other cities in the world, the Dubai Government has mandated all entities to partner with innovative start-ups and established business entities to find solutions that are transformational and contribute to progress.

Ensuring the safety of staff and customers, and protecting the interest of all stakeholders, being top priority for organisations and a major component to ensure business continuity. This spirit of collaboration is indeed the driving force of positive change – and needed in our fight against COVID-19.

A Dh100b sized booster

The UAE Government announced measures to mitigate impact of the pandemic on financial performance and business operations for a number of organisations in the public and private sectors. This included a stimulus package of Dh100 billion to bolster the economy, in addition to incentives such as reduced customs fees, municipality fees, and interest rate cuts.

Pitching in

As per Dubai Chamber’s survey, COVID-19 had an impact on majority of SMEs. The UAE central bank and government realised this and was quick to announce its support to the SMEs. According to the central bank, banks increased lending to SMEs in March, which witnessed a 5.3 per cent year-on-year growth, to reach a value of Dh93.4 billion.

It is now time for the public and private sector to find synergies that work best for stakeholders.

The public and private sectors must continue to build strategic partnerships for the overall benefit of the economy. Companies need to take all necessary steps to be more flexible and relevant to the times we live in, and this mindset should include services as well as internal policies.

This is an example of how organisations are pushing the envelope and seeking innovative ways to maintain a new order of business, while supporting governmental efforts to stem the crisis.

Several organisations are already working with the government for public health and safety. For example, national oil companies (NOCs) are collaborating with the government, Dubai Health Authority, Dubai Municipality and other taskforces to ensure sufficient supply of resources. We also saw developers offer their properties, be it hotels or compounds, to the government to be used as accommodation for quarantined cases in addition to landlords offering rent-free incentives to struggling businesses.

As His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the UAE Vice-President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, observed: “The word impossible is not in the leader’s dictionaries. No matter how big the challenges, strong faith, determination and resolve will overcome them.”

Supporting governmental initiatives through committed efforts is crucial, and through public private collaboration we can emerge from this crisis stronger than ever before.

- Saif Humaid Al Falasi is Group CEO of ENOC.