UAE ministry teams up with Cisco to boost nation's digital economy

Agreement will support public-private sector collaboration and highlight development of SMEs

Omar Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications, and Reem Asaad, Cisco's vice president for MEA, look on during the signing ceremony between Saqr bin Ghalib, executive director at the AI, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications Office, right, and Abdelilah Nejjari, Cisco's managing director for Gulf region. Photo: Cisco
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The office of the UAE Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications has signed a preliminary agreement with US technology company Cisco that will support the Emirates in advancing its digital transformation and economy.

The agreement will boost the collaboration between the public and private sector, emphasise the development of small and medium enterprises and introduce national training programmes to prepare a new generation of a digitally empowered workforce, the California-based company said on Thursday.

The deal is part of Cisco's Country Digital Acceleration (CDA) programme in the UAE.

The UAE's standing as a hub for digital advancement entails focusing on key areas to "create a proactive leading future", said Omar Al Olama, Minister of State for AI, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications.

"These pillars cover harnessing the power of emerging technologies across key industries, fostering digital skills and talents, and embracing innovative approaches in work models in alignment with the prioritisation of well-being in the UAE," he said.

"Our objective is to boost the UAE's digital journey, which will be driven in such a way that privacy and security come first."

Digital transformation is becoming a bigger part of governments' strategies with the advent of emerging technologies that are shaping the future of economies.

In April, the UAE Cabinet approved a digital economy strategy that aims to double the contribution of the digital economy to the country's non-oil gross domestic product in the next 10 years to almost 20 per cent from 9.7 per cent in 2021.

In August, the Cabinet also approved the formation of the Higher Committee for Government Digital Transformation, of which Mr Al Olama is vice chairman, as the country presses forward with plans to make use of future technology.

Dubai also recently announced the formation of the Higher Committee for Future Technology and Digital Economy, which is mandated “to promote Dubai's supremacy in the digital economy globally”.

The agreement between the UAE and Cisco focuses on developing new work environments and integrating hybrid working across key industries such as health care, education and public services.

It also aims to promote national infrastructure to support foundational services needed for the UAE to accelerate its digital transformation, such as smart cities and cyber security road maps, and by harnessing Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies.

In October last year, the UAE launched its Industry 4.0 plan, which aims to boost productivity and the development of innovative products, increase manufacturing by 30 per cent and add $6.8 billion to the nation's economy by 2031.

"The UAE's visionary leadership is empowering the country to become one of the most prosperous nations by pioneering in the new digital era," said Reem Asaad, vice president for the Middle East and Africa at Cisco.

The CDA programme, which was launched in the UAE in 2018, has so far rolled out more than 15 projects, including for tele-consultation services, an AI-enabled smart classroom and a digital concept store.

Updated: October 06, 2022, 8:58 AM