Professor Raed Awamleh, Dean of MBRSG, leads a session at the boot camp Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Senior officials of various Dubai government departments recently participated in two retreats at a luxury resort in Ras Al Khaimah. However, these retreats were no ordinary weekend getaways.

A strategic endeavour to enhance their leadership skills and capabilities in public service delivery, the ultimate beneficiaries of the initiative will be the residents of Dubai.

From improving digital health applications to enhancing chat bots for higher quality responses on government apps and websites, the ripple effects of the boot camps’ outcomes will improve lives in many ways.

The Dubai government has been actively investing in the training and development of its officials to address new challenges in government service delivery.

The new initiative, called ‘The Executive Leadership Boot Camp,’ was organised by the Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Government (MBRSG), the first research and education institution specialising in public policy in the Arab world.

The retreat saw participation from a wide variety of departments Image Credit: Supplied

The elaborate boot camp in leadership was held in two sessions - the first from May 17 to 19, and the second from May 24 to 26. Officials participated from various entities such as the Roads and Transport Authority, Dubai Courts, Dubai Municipality, Dubai Corporation for Ambulance Services, Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation - Dubai, Financial Audit Authority - Dubai, Dubai Women Establishment and Emirates International Accreditation Centre.

The innovative educational and training programme aimed to advance activities outside the usual work environment. The retreat served as a holistic programme with a number of analytic and simulated activities to recharge leaders by promoting knowledge sharing and making a positive impact in enhanced service delivery through innovation.

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New generation training

In an exclusive interview with Gulf News, Prof. Raed Awamleh, Dean of MBRSG, said the boot camps incorporated sessions to assist a new generation of government leaders in addressing challenges and transforming opportunities into successes, as well as providing them with the opportunity to reflect on their current mode of operation and leadership and develop a future framework to keep up with the advances.

“Dubai government has always been agile, focusing on training and upgrading the skills of all of its staff members,” said Prof Awamleh.

“So, it’s not really a surprise that they have responded really well to our programme and sponsored a number of leaders to engage in our boot camp.”

Executive education, distinct from general training, is specifically designed for top-level leaders, he explained.

“It goes beyond traditional training methods by incorporating academic and scientific content. This comprehensive approach covers global trends, conceptual frameworks, and future foresight, equipping leaders with the knowledge and preparedness required to navigate the ever-changing landscape of global challenges that directly impact their work.”

Topics covered

The boot camp covered three main topics.

The first topic was authentic leadership, emphasising the need for leaders to be genuine and find their own voice. The importance of leadership in government was highlighted, especially considering its increasing significance in the future.

The second topic focused on the world and Dubai economy, discussing global economic trends, geopolitical factors, and their impact on Dubai’s economy. Leaders were encouraged to understand and leverage these changes to ensure the prosperity and development of Dubai.

The third topic centred around Artificial Intelligence (AI) and new technologies. The discussions explored how these technologies are transforming the world and their implications for governments.

“Not only ChatGPT, but so many other technologies also are changing the world, affecting the way we do business and of course, naturally affecting governments. So we talked about examples of AI and how leaders can actually utilise those in their day-to-day operations and their strategic outlook,” explained Prof Awamleh, who is also a management specialist.

Unique scenario

He pointed out the unique scenario in Dubai with the leadership wanting to be No. 1 in international indices while the expectations of residents going higher with their improved knowledge in technology.

“So, the pressure on government officials comes not only from the top leadership but also from citizens and that is the main trend of the future, in addition to the impact of technology. People are aware of technology and AI and they expect, with these technologies, the government to deliver even at the highest level.”

To meet the challenges of using emerging AI technologies and digital transformation in government services, he said the boot camp dedicated a whole day for it.

“We had experts talking about examples of how governments around the world used AI to improve services. And then we talked about how we can apply that in Dubai where Digital Dubai is leading in this area,” the dean added.

Prof Awamleh said the discussions centred around using ChatGPT and other AI tools to give better responses to questions of residents and visitors while navigating through government apps and websites.

Officials also discussed the future of health applications, which can revolutionise healthcare by providing personalised solutions based on individual data and raising awareness about health conditions.

Through group projects and practical outcomes, officials acquired valuable insights and ideas for enhancing their work environment.

Improved services

With the flexibility and autonomy to make decisions, improve processes, and foster innovation, the officials, on returning to their offices, will identify areas for improvement and put into action what they have learned, thereby creating a cycle of continuous improvement and growth.

The skills acquired will be integrated into daily operations, leading to ongoing benefits for residents. This initiative aligns with the government’s commitment to delivering excellence and ensuring the prosperity and development of Dubai.

“Citizens, residents and visitors will continue to see incremental serious improvements in every service they get,” said Prof Awamleh.

The camp was led by Dr Ali Sebaa Al Marri, executive president of MBRG with the participation of Prof Awamleh; Prof Mark Esposito, professor of Economic Policy at MBRSG, and Dr Giwanis Karamitsos, associate professor at the University of Rochester, USA, as well as a group of international specialist lecturers and government leaders.

Among the top government leaders who held sessions were Abdulla Al Falasi, director-general at Dubai Government Human Resources Department; Younus Al Nasser, assistant director-general, Digital Dubai; and Hanan Ahli, director of the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Centre.