The UAE has made no secret of its ambition to be a global leader in the new digital economic order. A series of enabling measures have been put in place to support this goal, including establishing a dedicated ministry of artificial intelligence, digital economy and remote work applications, building the first AI-research university in the world, launching Group 42 and others.
The recent announcement of the UAE Digital Economy Strategy is another significant step in this direction. The UAE envisions the digital economy contributing 20 per cent of the country’s GDP over the next ten years.
The strategy recognises that information, data and technology are today the primary sources and stores of value. Four of the five biggest companies in the world by market cap are digital companies that own relatively little in terms of physical assets. Their value exists in IP, patents, R&D and brand equity. Therefore, there’s an opportunity for the UAE to cultivate its own global digital champions by leveraging its key assets such as ubiquitous connectivity, solid ICT infrastructure, a tech-savvy population, fostering robust ICT ecosystems and strong government support.
There’s an opportunity for the UAE to cultivate its own global digital champions by leveraging its key assets such as ubiquitous connectivity, solid ICT infrastructure, a tech-savvy population, fostering robust ICT ecosystems and strong government support.
The combination of these attributes will set the UAE on its way to owning the digital economy. The UAE leads much of the world in connectivity. It boasts one of the deepest fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) penetration rates in the world, while mobile connectivity is over 100 per cent. Meanwhile, local carriers were among the first to roll out 5G, a sector that Huawei has proudly supported.
According to the IMD World Digital Competitiveness Ranking 2021 report, the UAE has achieved the first rank in the Arab region in all three main factors which are: the technology factor, the future readiness factor and the knowledge factor. In fact, the UAE ranked second in the technology factor globally.
This progress results from national policies that favour an open and competitive ICT marketplace that has allowed various players to thrive. By allowing international standards to dictate technology evolution, UAE enterprises and consumers, in turn, benefit from the best technologies the world has to offer. For example, 5G represents technological progress that is only possible when the ecosystem works together within an established global consensus and standards, in this case, the 3GPP and GSMA Network Equipment Security Assurance Scheme (NESAS).
This collaborative spirit extends to the other major digital economy enabler, ICT talent. UAE government agencies and universities have signed numerous partnership agreements with private organisations and tech companies to foster collaboration in skills development. Huawei is a proud supporter of and signatory to numerous such initiatives. These programmes include Huawei Seeds for the Future, the annual Huawei ICT Competition and the ICT Academy, which have collectively empowered thousands of UAE youth to pursue rewarding careers in ICT.
The digital economy has already become the world’s main engine for growth. A digital economy is, first and foremost, a green economy. Green and low-carbon development has become a globally recognised goal. More and more countries and businesses are increasing investment and transitioning to clean and renewable energy. Building on its experience in power electronics and energy storage, Huawei combines its technical strengths in 5G, cloud, and AI to provide low-carbon or even zero-carbon energy solutions for different industries.
The digital economy will define this century’s winners and followers. Establishing an enabling environment and policies bolstered by broad ecosystems sets the UAE among the leaders. As a responsible and capable corporate citizen, Huawei stays open to work with the government, partners and customers to help lay the foundation for UAE’s digital economy.
Together with our UAE customers and partners, we will continue to focus and innovate around laying the foundation of the UAE digital economy and helping all industries go digital.
The writer is the CEO of Huawei UAE