The UAE is not only a renowned hub for international trade, finance, transportation, tourism and culture, but also one of the most innovative countries in the world, a true “innovation incubator” and “creativity lab”. With careful government planning, the country, always striving to be the first, has since its foundation tapped into its imagination and entrepreneurship. With its innovation index ranking among the top in the world, the UAE has blazed a trail of creativity tailored to its own national conditions, setting an example for emerging economies around the globe.
The UAE is spearheading institutional innovation in its government. The country's Ministry of Tolerance and Co-existence, Ministry of Future Development and Ministry of Artificial Intelligence are global examples of a new iteration of government ministries for modern times. The Ministry of Possibility, a virtual government configuration that provides solutions for tricky issues by setting up relevant inter-agency teams, is also one of a kind. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, which I have the most dealings with, has five Cabinet members, including Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Co-operation, Ahmed Al Sayegh, Minister of State, Sheikh Shakhbut bin Nahyan, Minister of State, and Khalifa Al Marar, Minister of State. Such institutional innovation in the diplomatic service is one that the world has never seen.
The UAE is also applying the latest concepts and technologies to make its government smarter, more efficient and service-oriented. Dubai Future Accelerators invites the world’s most innovative firms to come up with customised solutions for UAE government entities. Choosing a theme for each year is also an innovation of the country's governance. 2015 was the Year of Innovation, 2016 the Year of Reading, 2017 the Year of Giving, 2018 the Year of Zayed, 2019 the Year of Tolerance, 2020 the Year Towards the Next 50, and 2021 is Year of the 50th. Each has its own purpose and meaning.
In economic fields, the UAE has been achieving a number of world-firsts to drive its diversification strategy. The world’s only seven-star and eight-star hotels, its tallest building, largest man-made port, largest artificial island, largest shopping mall, largest airport, largest indoor ski resort, largest indoor theme park, largest solar park and many others, continue to expand the limits of people’s imagination, which also helps develop a knowledge-based economy and attract tourists. At the same time, the UAE adopts reform measures to further open up and bring in global talent and investment. It has allowed 100 per cent foreign business ownership in certain sectors, introduced a 10-year-long residence visa, or “Gold Card”, and amended laws on naturalisation and dual-citizenship. The UAE has led in the Middle East for ease of doing business for eight consecutive years.
In terms of science, technology and education, the country has been at the head of global developments. It has focused on the Fourth Industrial Revolution by developing artificial intelligence, blockchain, virtual reality, 3D printing, robotics, space exploration and other cutting-edge areas. The UAE has established the world’s first graduate-level, research-based artificial intelligence academic institution, Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI), as well as Inception Institute of Artificial Intelligence (IIAI), in a bid to build world’s top AI research institutes. In recent years, the UAE has also made great strides in space exploration. The first Emirati-made satellite KhalifaSat was launched in 2018; the first Emirati astronaut Hazza Al Mansouri flew to the International Space Station in 2019; the Mars Hope Probe was launched in 2020 and successfully entered the Martian orbit in early 2021; lunar rover Rashid will embark on its mission to the moon in 2022. The UAE’s investment in space exploration, its industrial spirit, innovative achievements and immense potential is beyond impressive.
China is also a country of innovation. We consider it as the primary driving force for development. Along with mass entrepreneurship, it is making new waves, while modern economic drivers and business models are also booming. China is gradually becoming a new centre for global innovation. It is a consensus between Chinese and Emirati leaders to strengthen co-operation on innovation and technology. We share extensive areas of collaboration and huge potential on governance, development and technological innovation. Our co-operation on the world’s first phase III clinical trials of a Covid-19 inactivated vaccine that started last year has broken multiple world records and set a model for future China-UAE innovation and collaboration.
From May 28 to June 1, China will host the 2021 Pujiang Innovation Forum, a premier international meeting on the subject, through both online and on-site platforms. The UAE is invited to participate as the “Guest Country of Honor”. This not only demonstrates our deepening collaboration on innovation, but also presents an important opportunity to enhance further our co-operation on technological innovation. China is ready to tap the full potential of working together with the UAE, and implement the consensus and outcomes of official visits between our two countries. We will strengthen exchanges of innovation expertise and personnel, focus on key co-operation areas such as AI, 5G and space exploration, and make technology-based innovation collaboration a new highlight and growth area for our bilateral relationship. Together we will write a new chapter for innovative development.
Ni Jian is the Chinese Ambassador to the UAE