Abu Dhabi: The UAE has increased the number of think tanks, a move in tandem with its continuing effort to elevate itself to the first position in many fields of life.
Think tanks have the strategic objective of providing counsel to governments, aiding in decision-making, and providing analysis of local, regional and international issues — this comes as part of the UAE’s National Innovation Strategy, which aims to make the UAE among the most innovative nations in the world within seven years. The strategy will stimulate innovation in seven areas — renewable energy, transport, education, health, technology, water and space. Already the most innovative Arab nation, the UAE aims to be among the most innovative nations in the world.
Experts say the UAE’s think tanks seek to understand the challenges of society and find tools to overcome them. They endeavour to support policies that are aligned with advancements in many areas such as environment, space exploration, energy, natural resources, education, infrastructure and public health.
“We are proud to say that through the course of two decades we have spared no effort in serving decision makers and contributing to the creation of strategies related to the development and betterment of our society,” said Dr. Jamal Sanad Al Suwaidi, Director-General of the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR).
Dr. Al Suwaidi added the ECSSR has dedicated much of its work to supporting comprehensive sustainable development, with a focus on human capital. This path was inspired by the philosophy of the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan and his famous saying: “The state gives the priority of its interest to building human resources, and taking care of citizens in every corner of the country. Citizens are the real wealth of this earth.” It is with the inspiration of this philosophy that the UAE has accomplished its pioneering development under the leadership of President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Dr Al Suwaidi said that since its inception, the ECSSR has been keenly aware of the value of scientific, analytical research in supporting public policy. The centre has worked tirelessly via several approaches to achieve one main objective: employing science in the service of development.
“The ECSSR has been a standout in the region, contributing to new solutions and bringing knowledge and expertise to help GCC governments foster regional trade and economic development and provide expert analysis for global policy-making,” said Steven Bennett, Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer, the Brookings Institution.
In 2001, ECSSR was joined by Inegma or the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis — a leading strategy and security consultancy, research house in defence, security, and risk areas. The Mohammad Bin Rashid School of Government (previously Dubai School of Government), a leading research and teaching institution focusing on public policy in the Arab world, joined forces in 2005.
ECSSR has recently been joined by two new think tanks — the Emirates Policy Centre and the Delma Institute — to support Emirati decision makers with innovative research in nearly all areas of public policy, propose good governance, make better policies and promote better and more effective government.
Trends Research and Advisory, an independent research centre based in Abu Dhabi, was the latest in a series.
“In our increasingly interconnected world, where the news cycle has gone from fast to the speed of light fast, from 24 hours to 140 characters, policy-makers and opinion leaders need think tanks more than ever,” Bennett told the audience at a conference on the Role of Research Centres in Supporting Public Policy, organised by the ECSSR to mark the 20th anniversary of the centre.
According to a 2013 report issued by the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP) at the University of Pennsylvania, there are nearly 7,000 think tanks worldwide and that number is growing.
Dr Ebtisam Al Katbi, Chairwoman of the Emirates Policy Centre, said great achievements in the UAE show a blend between political will and specialised view. The founding fathers of the UAE were aware of the need to consult with experts on any decision they wanted to make. This is evident in the experiences of Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan and Shaikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum.
When Emirates Policy Centre (EPC) was established, it tried to comprehend and outmatch existing experiences to design a vision based on taking part in policy-making by using the latest methodologies and adapting them to fit the nature of the country and the region.
EPC provides strategic analysis, policy papers, studies and research to help decision makers reach an accurate and realistic understanding of the interests and security of the UAE and Arab Gulf states;
It prepares risk assessment papers in all fields and holds strategic debates to foresee trends of policies and regional and international geopolitical projects, and the extent of their impact on the Arabian Gulf region.
Delma Institute was established as an independent research house and provides public policy research, analysis and advice. “Our advisory work aims to help policy-makers understand and make informed choices about issues of national and international concern,” said Mesha’al Al Gergawi, managing director of the centre.
“The Delma Institute in specific aims to create a balance between research, analysis and public outreach,” Al Gergawi said.
Al Gergawi said all research institutes in the UAE and around the world, including Delma, strive to advise best practices and recommendations to policy-makers. “However, it is important to stress that Delma is not a think-tank, hence its role is not only policy-relevant, but also scholarly-relevant. This tension between ideas and policy usually seen in traditional arguments on the role of think-tanks in the world is approached differently by Delma’s module of Advisory and Public Research. Our impact is yet to be measured given our young age in the UAE.”
Profiles of UAE’s leading think tanks
In a rapidly changing world, with new horizons and challenges expanding the scope of human activity at every turn, the wise leadership of the UAE envisioned the creation of an advanced and independent research institution that would not only keep abreast with new developments at the political, economic and social spheres of human endeavour, but would also formulate the most suitable responses and strategies for keeping the UAE society ahead in the race of modernity. It was with this vision that the UAE established the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR), a premier institution of its kind in the Middle East, which has ever since set new benchmarks of excellence and expertise in the field of strategic studies and research.
At the heart of the centre’s mission is its adoption of a strategic and rational approach in addressing today’s and tomorrow’s pivotal and pressing issues. It also places a premium on rigorous discipline in the triumph of academic and scientific enterprise. In addition, the ECSSR’s core research group involves a cadre of well-educated nationals that derive a qualitative benefit from a specially designed programme. The dedication and a sense of duty that characterise these young professionals is remarkable. In their development, they have cultivated a sense of initiative and courage that will undoubtedly light the path to an even greater future.
Mohammad Bin Rashid School of Government
The Mohammad Bin Rashid School of Government (previously Dubai School of Government) is a research and teaching institution focusing on public policy in the Arab world. Established in 2005 under the patronage of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, MBRSG aims to promote good governance through enhancing the region’s capacity for effective public policy.
Toward this goal, the Mohammad Bin Rashid School of Government also collaborates with regional and global institutions in its research and training programmes. In addition, the school organises policy forums and international conferences to facilitate the exchange of ideas and promote critical debate on public policy in the Arab world.
The school is committed to the creation of knowledge, the dissemination of best practices and the training of policy-makers in the Arab world. To achieve this mission, the school is developing strong capabilities to support research and teaching programmes, including applied research in public policy and management; masters degrees in public policy and public administration; executive education for senior officials and executives; and knowledge forums for scholars and policy makers.
Inegma or Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis is a strategy and security consultancy, research house, and leading conference organiser in defence, security, and risk areas, headquartered in Dubai and with offices in Washington D.C., Brussels, and Beirut. It brings together the reach of a strong international network with specialist expertise and proven competence across a spectrum of advisory areas including political security, risk mitigation, strategic communication and defence trade.
Since its founding in 2001, it has built a reputation for supporting the flow of specialist insight, knowledge, and information into the region from the outside, and from within the region to partners as far as Washington D.C. and Tokyo. Inegma’s deepening reach among senior officials and decision-makers inside the Middle East has allowed us to grow in capacity and presence, delivering bespoke advisory services across a spectrum of specialist areas.
It advises clients in government and industry on political and security risks, security policy and capability development, and strategic communication. It also offers bespoke war-gaming and red-teaming services, and is an experienced organiser of high level conferences. It also advises on business growth and development strategies in Middle East defence, aerospace, and homeland security markets.
The Emirates Policy Centre
The Emirates Policy Centre (EPC) is an independent think tank with primary focus on the United Arab Emirates and its foreign relations, as well as the Arabian Gulf and its regional and international relations.
It provides strategic analysis, policy papers, studies, and research to serve decision-makers of any institution or country in the region with a priority given to the UAE, to help them reach an accurate and realistic understanding of the interests and security of the UAE and the Arab Gulf states.
EPC also prepares risk assessment papers in all fields and provide it to local, regional, and international partners and holds strategic debates to foresee trends of policies and regional and international geopolitical projects, and the extent of its impact on Arabian Gulf region.
The Delma Institute
The Delma Institute is an interdisciplinary research house that aims to advance the quality of knowledge and data analysis linked to the United Arab Emirates and, by extension, the Middle East region and the world.
Its research cover politics, examine dynamics and detect patterns in the local, regional and global political sphere.
It also studies the potential and sustainability of the UAE’s economic model.
In sociology, the Delma Institute identifies key social issues and trends in the UAE and the wider Gulf.
In the defence and security areas, it analyses threats and opportunities relating to regional and global security.
The Delma Institute is not a think tank, hence its role is not only policy-relevant, but also scholarly-relevant. This tension between ideas and policy usually seen in traditional arguments on the role of think tanks in the world is approached differently by Delma’s module of advisory and public research.
Trends Research and Advisory
Trends Research and Advisory is an independent and progressive research centre based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, building a global network of research associates. TRENDS aims to help improve policies and decision-making processes through rigorous research and analysis.
It explores beyond-news agendas and delve into the underlying variables influencing policy-makers to predict future opportunities and challenges, through our network of international experts.
Its analysis, which serves as a primary resource for leaders and policy-makers in governments and organisations, covers vital global, regional and country-specific matters. Our experts work to create innovative solutions to confront crucial regional and international trajectories by analysing and advancing trends.
Its vision is to serve as the most reliable and accurate source in the region for governments and organisations. TRENDS aims to serve as a leading institute for future studies in the region and to be regarded as an important contributor to the development of innovative solutions worldwide.