The UAE has signed a deal with a host of technology giants, including Google and Amazon, to train 100,000 young people in computer programming.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, unveiled the agreement with Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Cisco, IBM, LinkedIn, Nvidia and Facebook on Saturday.
Within five years, he wants to train 100,000 programmers and coders, create 1,000 digital companies to boost the Emirati economy and increase government support for start-ups from Dh1.5 billion ($0.41bn) to Dh4bn.
“We launched a national programme for coders with Google, Microsoft, Amazon AWS, Cisco, IBM, HPE, LinkedIn, Nvidia & Facebook with aims to train 100,000 coders, establish 1,000 tech companies that will go global, & increase start-up investments from Dh1.5 billion to Dh4 billion,” Sheikh Mohammed wrote on Twitter.
"The new programme represents a new step towards establishing our digital economy. The world is rapidly changing and the fast-growing digital economy will create new types of jobs. To thrive in the ever-evolving world, we must be ready to quickly cope with the emerging trends."
The programme will also grant golden visas to 100,000 of the world’s best coders.
The UAE will host 10 "hackathon" competitions that will bring together the elite programmers for events in the emirates.
The ability to write code, develop computer software and build mobile applications are among the most sought-after skills in the future global job market.
While some traditional jobs will be lost to technological advances in the coming years, many thousands will be created in the industry.
In 2018, it was estimated there were 23 million coders in the world – and that would rise to 28 million by 2023.
In 2017, Sheikh Mohammed unveiled a campaign named One Million Arab Coders to train young people in coding – "the language of the future". The plan, led by the think tank Dubai Future Foundation, was designed to equip young people with the job skills that the future job market needed.
Research by Monster, one of the world's biggest job portals, puts demand for information technology skills and qualifications at "very high" – higher than its rating for engineering, which was "moderate" and science qualifications, at "moderate to low".
It estimates 10 per cent global job growth over 10 years – potentially millions of jobs – and a median salary of $90,000 per year today.
Reports suggest many people who fill coding and programmer roles have switched careers and embarked on specialised courses, and not necessarily completed bachelor or master's degrees at university – giving hope to many people considering a career switch.