Abdulla Mohammed Al Basti, Secretary-General of The Executive Council of Dubai addressing the gathering Image Credit: Twitter/@DXBMediaOffice

Dubai: Dubai’s public and private sector leaders came together on Monday to explore how governments, businesses and the community can work closely with each other to create a culture of innovation at the latest ‘Innovation Talks’ series, organised by The Executive Council of Dubai.

Delivering a keynote address at the three-day event that commenced today, Abdulla Mohammed Al Basti, Secretary-General of The Executive Council of Dubai, highlighted the role of innovation and skill development in driving competitiveness.

“Innovation goes beyond mere technical development to identify challenges and find solutions,” Al Basti said. “Dubai has always had a comprehensive vision for shaping a bright future. The late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum’s innovative initiatives to deepen and widen the Dubai Creek, and build the Jebel Ali Port and Dubai Airport created the foundations for Dubai’s later development.”

“Following in his footsteps, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, further advanced innovation in Dubai by launching major development initiatives such as the Dubai Metro, which now transports over 800,000 riders per day,” he said.

Al Basti added: “We must ensure that innovation becomes an integral part of our culture of excellence. Events such as the ‘Innovation Talks’, being held as part of ‘UAE Innovates 2023’, serve as a vital platform for dialogue and knowledge exchange between the public and private sectors.”

During his address at the event, Khalfan Belhoul, Chief Executive Officer, Dubai Future Foundation, praised the UAE leadership for transforming the country into a global trade and tourism hub. Speaking at a session titled ‘The UAE’s Journey Towards the Future’, Belhoul said the UAE’s progressive vision has enabled it to emerge as one of the world’s busiest aviation and shipping hubs and a leading centre for genome technology and artificial intelligence.

The Dubai Future Foundation, led by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai, is launching innovative projects and events, such as the Dubai Future Forum, Dubai Metaverse Forum, Dubai Future Academy and the One Million Arab Coders initiative, he said.

Reshaping the future

Belhoul also spoke about how new developments in energy, cybersecurity, trade, digital transformation and robotics will shape a new future for humanity. Humans will continue to remain the drivers of innovation, he stressed.

Speaking at a session titled ‘Innovation and Economy in the Media Sector’, Mona Al Marri, Vice Chairperson and Managing Director of the Dubai Media Council and Director-General of the Government of Dubai Media Office, stressed the importance of enhancing innovation in media.

She highlighted how Dubai’s world-class infrastructure and the establishment of pioneering initiatives by Sheikh Mohammed, such as the Dubai Media City and Dubai Internet City, have contributed to boosting innovation in the city and transforming the emirate into a major hub for technology.

Al Marri also spoke about how technological change is having a transformational impact on all media sectors. “In the next five years, we should focus on enhancing Arabic content and adopting AI solutions such as Chat GPT,” she noted.

Joining her in the session was Malek Al Malek, Director-General of the Dubai Development Authority and Member of the Dubai Media Council, who spoke about Dubai’s experience in establishing a knowledge-based economy based on five key pillars, including creating business-friendly legislations, establishing a solid infrastructure, developing an attractive business ecosystem, providing unique services to help new sectors grow, and attracting global companies to drive innovation. During the session, Al Malek said that the UAE today ranks second globally in 5G coverage.

‘Innovation Talks’ also featured a session titled ‘Amazon’s Culture of Innovation’, which saw Faisal Iqbal, Head of Innovation, Middle East and Africa, Amazon, discussing how the company encourages innovation in the workplace. During the session, he said: “Amazon is an organisation of 160,000 startups. We operate what we call single-threaded leaders, where each team and each leader has one strategic goal rather than many. This promotes ownership and accountability. This also creates an organisation where people are truly empowered to innovate.”

In another knowledge seminar titled ‘Space Science and Innovation’, Mohammed Al-Harmi, Senior Director of Administrative Affairs Department at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), spoke about MBRSC’s space exploration projects to Mars and Venus and how they have contributed to human development. He also highlighted how the Emiratisation rate at the Centre has reached 100 per cent.

Al Harmi also underlined how the space sector has contributed to the development of new industries and the establishment of new companies in the country. During the session, he also spoke about how the UAE Astronaut Programme is educating future generations about the importance of science and innovation.

‘UAE Innovates 2023’

Sharina Lootah, Coordinator of ‘UAE Innovates 2023’ events in Dubai, said the ‘Innovation Talks’ series highlights the close partnership between Dubai’s public and private sectors.

“’Innovation Talks’ seeks to share success stories that can empower others to innovate. We are extremely grateful for the support of the Mohammed bin Rashid Centre for Government Innovation. Events like these are driven by the collaboration and teamwork shown by various players. We thank everyone who has contributed to our month-long celebration of innovation,” Lootah added.

Maha Al Suwaidi, Senior Consultant at the Dubai Government Excellence Programme, said: “The first day of the ‘Innovation Talks’ series was an exciting opportunity to showcase various innovation success stories. Speakers on the first day shed light on the importance of adopting innovation as a culture and an added value, at the corporate level and within the community.”

Organised by The Executive Council of Dubai, Innovation Talks brings together heads and representatives of Dubai government departments, and experts from major private sector companies to discuss how they can work together to develop a common vision for the future.

The ‘Innovation Talks’ series forms part of Dubai’s participation in the eighth edition of ‘UAE Innovates 2023’, the largest national event that celebrates innovation and innovators across the country, featuring the participation of government and private sector organisations. It emphasises the importance of innovation, especially in providing services, increasing the effectiveness of procedures and keeping pace with recent technical and technological developments.