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The ECSSR Bluilding on Muroor Street in Abu Dhabi Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Abu Dhabi: Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR) is preparing for the next phase of the UAE’s development by remaining committed to a culture of innovation under the stewardship of Prof. Jamal Sanad Al Suwaidi.

Prof Al Suwaidi, the center’s director-general, said the commitment to new ideas was evident in the establishment of the Information Technology and Innovation Department which focuses on the latest advancements in technology, Artificial Intelligence and all matters related to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, at the threshold of which the UAE and the whole world stand today.

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Prof. Jamal Sanad Al Suwaidi, Director-General, ECSSR Image Credit: Gulf News

A leading Emirati author and researcher, Prof Al Suwaidi has established a unique framework and culture at the ECSSR that has underpinned the leading think tank’s pioneering journey and achievements.

He has also stressed that ECSSR is a result of the vision of the UAE’s wise leadership, which believes in the value of science and knowledge, and their importance for sound future planning, which has proven indispensable to the decision-making process. This firm belief was reaffirmed by the words and actions of the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan. He emphasised that science is vital to the progress of nations, that it is their true wealth and a light that guides the life and future of people. It is this very belief that the UAE’s wise leadership, represented by His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai and His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, have adopted as a method of governance and management, as well as an irreplaceable foundation for the future.

This nurturing environment, that encourages knowledge and scientific research, gave birth to the idea of establishing the ECSSR, as the first strategic research institution in the UAE 26 years ago. From the very beginning, the idea was adopted by Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed who provided unrelenting support until the centre became a reality, under the guidance of Shaikh Zayed in March 1994. The creation of the ECSSR, under the chairmanship of Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed was an example of the belief the wise leadership has in the importance of science and research for achieving renaissance, progress and development. This belief has played a fundamental role in the ECSSR’s success and development, enhancing its position locally and around the world.

Objectivity and accuracy

Prof Al Suwaidi said he was honoured in serving as director general of ECSSR, working directly under the leadership of Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed. He has also stressed the great responsibility of working to establish a leading academic centre in the areas of scientific research, community service and decision-making support. For that reason, from the very start, a great deal of focus was placed on establishing strict scientific standards and guidelines for the work of the ECSSR. These guidelines are based on serious commitment, objectivity and absolute accuracy, while they ensure sound scientific methodology in all ECSSR publications, reports and academic or field research. From its inception, ECSSR has also ensured integrity by applying scientific standards to the realities, issues and phenomena it studies, as well as to all aspects of its research, analysis, information gathering, conclusions and proposals. Within this ethos, ECSSR has always given top priority to the higher interests of the UAE, and to all issues that enhance its position and advance its pioneering development.

These rigorous standards and guidelines, which ECSSR has adopted and committed to since its inception, have strengthened its credibility among national decision-making institutions in the UAE, and among academic and research institutions regionally and globally. This is clearly evidenced by the number of world leaders, from east and west, who have visited ECSSR to deliver lectures and present their ideas. There is also a long and prestigious list of scientific, academic and research entities from the UAE and further afield that have been keen to form scientific cooperation agreements with ECSSR in various fields. Moreover, many UAE and Gulf ministries, institutions and entities are eager to collaborate with the centre to realise their goals, trusting in its credibility and commitment to the highest standards of excellence and quality in scientific research.

Concepts of change, renewal

ECSSR has also been committed to concepts of change and renewal. It has continuously striven to update its work practices, as well as its research and methodological tools, to stay abreast of ongoing international developments related to its areas of interest. This strategy enables ECSSR to function in a way that responds to each new stage of society’s development — a fact that has ensured its own continued evolution, while at the same time, consolidated its prestigious research status. This is in stark contrast to similar research centres that have emerged, only to quickly disappear because they failed to evolve. Concepts of renewal, continuous development, innovation and quality are guiding principles that have governed the ECSSR’s performance over the past twenty-six years. The same principles will continue to do so in the future because Prof. Al Suwaidi believes that stagnation means extinction, and resistance to change implies backwardness and regression.

From its early years, ECSSR has also viewed the goal of training skilled citizens in the field of scientific research as a top priority. It has succeeded in qualifying Emirati researchers and specialists who have played an important role, in advancing not only the work of the ECSSR, but also that of the many important national institutions they joined. This training process has not been limited to ECSSR staff, given that over the years, the centre has organised hundreds of specialised training and qualification courses for nationals and residents.

Research achievements

The knowledge, research and intellectual achievements accomplished during the last 26 years have made ECSSR a leader among some of the most active and distinguished research centres, regionally and internationally.

In its relatively short lifespan, ECSSR has organised 75 annual and specialised conferences, 58 scientific symposia and 746 lectures that have highlighted various issues of concern for the UAE, region and the world. Over the years, hundreds of officials, experts and researchers from all over the world have taken part in the center’s lectures.

ECSSR has also published 1,234 titles, including original and translated books, scientific series in both Arabic and English, and two academic periodicals. This is in addition to the thousands of daily news and analytical bulletins issued by the Media Department. Furthermore, ECSSR has conducted hundreds of field studies, in collaboration with numerous ministries and government entities, to gauge trends in UAE public opinion on a diverse range of social, economic, political and cultural issues. The centre has also prepared thousands of research and policy papers for national decision-makers.

Under Prof Al Suwaidi’s guidance, ECSSR is on a constant quest for distinction and quality, and will never be content with the great achievements it has attained; instead, it will forge ahead with even more vigour, taking its research and intellectual march to the next level. This is crucial in light of increased challenges facing the UAE and the entire region, and considering the great importance of knowledge in today’s world. This requires further focus on a wide range of areas of scientific research to enhance the state’s ability to respond to the global knowledge revolution.