Dubai: The UAE encourages every government employee to come forward with their creative ideas and projects, and the government will be ready to support and apply those innovative ideas, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, said during an award ceremony on Thursday.

Shaikh Mohammad honoured the three government employees out of six finalists of the Afkari (My Ideas) competition, which was launched last year and saw more than 750 ideas by employees submitted on the Afkari platform. The winners awarded for their innovative solutions that improve government services and serve society.

“Innovation is a key value and a distinguishing feature of the societies of the future,” Shaikh Mohammad said. “The UAE has successfully established innovation as a culture, and has used it to develop and support all strategic sectors. Under the leadership of His Highness President Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE has changed the way the world perceives government work, and adopted innovation as a culture, setting the foundation for a competitive knowledge economy. This, in turn, has developed our services and projects that aim to serve society and spread happiness.”

Shaikh Mohammad lauded the efforts and innovations of the Emiratis that took part in the contest, saying: “Your efforts make us proud; every project entered in the competition is valuable and worthy of praise and admiration. We encourage every government employee to come forward with their creative ideas and projects.

“Any idea, simple as it may seem, could be the seed for a project that can drastically transform the way our government operates, which eventually works to the advantage of our community.”

The three winners announced during the Government Innovations Ceremony, organised by the Mohammed bin Rashid Centre for Government Innovation (MBRCGI), were first place winner Shaikha Al Raihi, an employee at the Emirates Identity Authority who proposed a customer friendly service in an app called My Services, second place winner Shaikh Khalid Al Qasimi from the Ministry of Interior, who proposed drones to detect explosives, and third place winner Dr Huda Abdouly from the Ministry of Health and Prevention, who submitted a proposal for a Diabetic Footcare Clinic.

The competition started with 750 ideas and later saw 140 employees selected to pitch their ideas in front of a panel of judges. A total of 30 employees were then awarded with special funds to implement their ideas.

Six ideas were chosen by members of the public through voting. The three winners were selected by a panel of judges and were judged based on four criteria: novelty, how implementable the ideas are, potential impact, and budget.

Shaikh Mohammad advised all government entities to encourage all those in their ranks to be bold and creative, and to then adopt and implement their ideas to improve performance and increase productivity. “We want every government agency to become an incubator for innovation and to embrace its creative employees, support them, and turn their ideas into a reality that benefits society,” he said.

He added that the effective partnership between government entities, private companies, academic institutions, scientific research centres, and individuals is crucial to promote innovation and invent solutions to all challenges, as well as to provide suggestions and ideas that contribute to the improvement of people’s quality of life.

“Our goal is clear and we are satisfied with what we have achieved so far; that said, we seek to achieve even larger and wider accomplishments. We want to accelerate our pace in order to turn innovation into a culture and a daily task in the community,” he said, adding that “We still have a lot to achieve to serve our people and make our nation one of the best countries in the world.”

During the event, he toured an exhibition of the 30 ideas that made the finals, and met with participants from the second batch of the Diploma in Government Innovation, who were divided into six teams and presented happiness-related projects.

The event was part of the second UAE Innovation Week which ends on Saturday. Ministers and officials in government entities, CEOs of leading private sector companies, heads and directors of key media outlets in the UAE and participants in the first and second batches of the Diploma in Government Innovation attended the event.

First place

Speaking to Gulf News, first place winner Shaikha Al Raihi said the idea she proposed was a smart service through an app that helps customers locate the nearest Emirates Identity Authority centre and also informs them about how busy these centres are.

“The colour red means the centre is busy and the green colour displayed means the centre is not crowded. The app is linked to the queue at the centre. I’m very proud of this achievement. The service is now already implemented in the Emirates ID application. This makes it easier for people and it saves a lot of their time.”

She said the service will be implemented at various government departments, such as the Ministry of Labour affairs and others that provide government services.


Six finalists

The three winners announced during the Government Innovations Ceremony

Winner — Shaikha Al Raihi, an employee at the Emirates Identity Authority — Customer friendly app service called ‘My Service’

Second — Shaikh Khalid Al Qasimi from the Ministry of Interior — Drones to detect explosives

Third — Dr Huda Abdouly from the Ministry of Health and Prevention — Diabetic Footcare Clinic.