UAE skyline
UAE's track record of growth is there for all to see. And this development has been led by clear thinking and a hands on management style. Image Credit: Suji Su/Pexels

Questions have been - and still are - being raised about the UAE’s development experience. These are mostly out of awe, while some have done so in a bid to find ways to replicate this experience due to the remarkable progress the nation has achieved over five decades.

This indicates the exceptional peculiarities of the UAE’s experience, and how others interested in this model can learn from if they have the will and the required management skills. In this regard, the speech by President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, in which he addressed citizens and residents, answers those questions in full.

It highlights the most important future approaches that aim to build on the track record, complete its components, and develop it further in keeping pace with technology, economic and geopolitical changes. It is clearly a look-ahead approach that will see changes in line with national interests and the UAE’s aspirations to keep building an economy based on the new foundations.

The President highlighted the most prominent characteristics that distinguish the UAE’s development, notably in the field of leadership, which was laid by the Founding Father since the establishment of the Union and played a major role in the successful implementation of economic and social development programmes.

The President, Vice-President and the Rulers of the Emirates have always been keen on closely following the implementation of development plans and projects on the ground, rather than issuing directives from afar, to ensure the proper implementation of the vision as planned within specified timeframes. This explains the magnitude, quality and comprehensiveness of completed projects in all economic and social sectors.

Another reason for the success is holding accountable those who fail in performing their tasks and finding quick solutions to problems on the ground. The constant follow-up is considered one of the most important reasons for the success of the UAE experience, as there is no real development when there is a lack of on-the-ground leadership at the highest levels.

Follow the path carved out

His Highness reaffirmed that he would continue to follow the same approach and vision, adding that the UAE has secured exceptional achievements, but our ‘ambitions are far greater’. This means that the wise leadership will continue following the previous approach, which is expected to bring about another leap in the UAE’s development ways. And it was last week that the UAE launched a radar satellite constellation - Sirb - to support the country’s space sector.

The second characteristic of the UAE’s development experience is that citizens are given a top priority as the focus of the leadership’s attention to ensure their happiness and wellbeing. This means not only raising living standards, but also providing the fundamentals for education and supplying young people with new tech and knowledge skills commensurate with the rapid development needs.

The President also referred to the role of expatriates and professionals, to whom the UAE attaches special importance , considering their contributions as an essential part of the indispensable development requirements. The third characteristic is economic diversification, where the UAE economy is considered the most diversified among the oil economies, and moving towards greater diversity.

“Diversifying economy is an essential strategic necessity for development plans,” the President said. “It is therefore necessary to accelerate diversification, enhance competitiveness and adopt the best practices in science and technology for the development of all areas.”

Private sector’s central role

This approach will have a significant role in enriching the UAE’s development experience. Another is the private sector’s pivotal role as mentioned by the President. The UAE will pay more attention to the private sector, heralding its growing role and the emergence of more UAE businesses and investors. This will rub off on fast-track development of various sectors and the creation of more jobs within the private sector.

Finally, building and developing economic partnerships with other countries have added a lot to the UAE’s special development experience and as an extension to gains made domestically. The UAE has made remarkable progress that has made it possible to attract significant investment and increase exports simultaneously.

This has in turn contributed to raising GDP growth rates. The UAE is heading toward another qualitative jump that has clearly been defined and highlighted in the President’s speech. The UAE experience will gain a new regional and global dimension that would contribute to the UAE moving up the development ranks with an increasingly richer and stronger experience to show for it.