Health care industries around the world have been pushed to the limit by the global COVID-19 pandemic and critical sectors, such pharmaceutical manufacturing and scientific research, need our support.
By researching, developing and distributing life-saving medication, as well as analysing transmission patterns and treatment methodologies, pharmaceutical manufacturing and scientific research are important sources of medical innovation and insight. They do not always receive the requisite investment or recognition, but the world has seen why these sectors matter.
Under the vision of the UAE’s wise leadership to create a knowledge-based, innovation-driven economy, the country has a competitive health care industry in which pharmaceutical manufacturing and scientific research play an important role
Health care-related industries are now at the heart of the world’s narrative, intrinsically linked to its future as the international community races to create a vaccine. They are the link between preparation, prevention and prosperity.
Robust regulatory framework
We can support these industries with a strategic vision focused on long-term objectives rather than short-term goals. A vision that creates a robust regulatory framework to accelerate research and development and safeguard intellectual property.
A vision that establishes a framework and infrastructure to create a united stakeholder network representing the entire health care enterprise.
A vision that attracts investment and talent, spurs innovation, creates jobs and encourages the next generation of students to explore careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).
Under the vision of the UAE’s wise leadership to create a knowledge-based, innovation-driven economy, the country has a competitive health care industry in which pharmaceutical manufacturing and scientific research play an important role.
By attracting talent and investment, producing medication locally while continuously adopting the best international standards and guidelines, the UAE has demonstrated its preparedness and readiness to overcome the current situation and emerge stronger.
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Dubai has always provided extensive support to leading global corporations, SMEs, start-ups and entrepreneurs operating within health care-related fields.
And with ample office and laboratory space, Dubai Science Park is an example of an ecosystem built to enrich scientific research, creativity and innovation to create a self-sufficient future for the UAE.
Moreover, the Dubai Industrial Strategy 2030 demonstrates the strategic importance placed on the industry, as manufacturing pharmaceuticals and medical equipment is one of its six priority sub-sectors.
The position of Minister of State for Advanced Sciences, which is currently fulfilled by Sarah bint Yousif Al Amiri, shows that the country is committed to developing these sectors.
All of these examples represent a holistic vision to protect and promote health care-related industries and create a road map to bring government entities and industry stakeholders together.
International companies have chosen Dubai as the city for their regional headquarters, laboratories or research and development centres. Some are providing the UAE and wider region with vital data on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, turning Dubai into a regional hub contributing to the international response to the virus.
Others are manufacturing COVID-19 testing kits or producing medicine to tackle chronic diseases such as diabetes.
Highest global standard
These companies are ensuring the continuous supply of medication, adhering to the highest global standards, helping markets minimise supply chain disruption, and enabling the UAE to become self-sufficient in various medical goods.
Our business partner Pharmax Pharmaceuticals, for example, is contributing to this and its CEO, Madhukar Tanna, believes the UAE can become self-sufficient in basic medication within the next seven years.
Dubai Science Park shares this ambition. We can support pharmaceutical and scientific research companies with an eco-friendly laboratory complex equipped with air exhaust and ventilation systems, acid-resistant drainage and other technical features to create the right environment for businesses to thrive.
Another crucial area is in establishing an appropriate legal framework that preserves intellectual property and encourages research and development.
The UAE has succeeded in this area. It has also acted as a catalyst in bringing the public and private sectors together, achieving synergy between the two, building infrastructure that enables them to flourish.
This helps to attract foreign direct investment, solidifying Dubai’s economic competitiveness and enhancing its status as a business-friendly environment.
But we cannot stop at supporting pharmaceutical manufacturing and scientific research. We should proactively enrich expertise by encouraging academic institutions and companies to create a pool of talent in advanced sciences and biotechnology.
We need to collectively encourage young people to contribute towards STEM industries and demonstrate why such a career could be financially and emotionally rewarding.
At Dubai Science Park, we have taken it upon ourselves to lead by example. We joined forces with Covestro, a world-leading supplier of polymer materials, to host the first Greenlight for Girls Day in the Middle East last year to raise awareness for female career opportunities in STEM-related fields.
The successful initiative brought together more than 100 girls from various Dubai schools.
To build on this, we are in constant contact with universities across the UAE, and primarily those located in Dubai International Academic City (DIAC), to seek collaborative opportunities. We held a workshop alongside DIAC that discussed how to elevate expertise in the field of life sciences.
The workshop brought together a group of esteemed academics who discussed how educators can collaborate with scientific agencies and manufacturing companies; how STEM learning programmes can be enriched; and how we can continue to motivate and encourage young people to pursue careers in these industries.
We also encourage our business partners to explore how they can provide opportunities to students. With the participation of more than 40 companies, we dedicate a day each year where students can enrol in a career growth programme to gain first-hand experience.
This allows business partners to gauge students’ skills and determine if they are suitable for the company.
Tackling global challenges requires preparation and effort — and that preparation and effort has been personified within the UAE as a direct outcome of our leadership’s vision. Today, health care is the heart of the UAE’s narrative and health care-related industries are the link between preparation, prevention and prosperity.
The lessons we have and will continue to learn from this pandemic should remind us that we can attract investment and develop these industries with a comprehensive vision to achieve sustainable development.
Marwan Abdulaziz Janahi is the Managing Director of Dubai Science Park & Chairing Member of the Pharmaceuticals and Medical Equipment Taskforce of the Dubai Industrial Strategy 2030