ABU DHABI // Policymakers have voiced their concerns about population growth in the Arabian Gulf region and were urged on Tuesday to work together to improve the life of citizens in their countries.
Government representatives and specialists from the public and private sector gathered in Abu Dhabi for the 8th Gulf Cooperation Council Municipal Conference and Exhibition.
Dr Rashid Ahmed bin Fahad, UAE Minister of Environment and Water, discussed the effects of the huge population boom of recent years.
“The GCC countries have seen paradigm shifts in past few decades with rapid growth of cities to cater to the rising growth in population. This growth had its bearing on resources and various services,” he said.
The Minister mentioned the Star System Rating for Dubai, which rates government customer-service centres from two to seven stars depending on quality and speed of service.
He said the system had markedly improved customer service delivery in the public sector since its launch in 2011.
He urged GCC representatives to review this programme and consider the possibility of applying it to the municipal system in their own countries.
“Today we shoulder huge responsibilities in realising the vision of our leadership for municipal work in GCC countries to achieve a balanced and sustainable development surpassing the best international standards,” he said.
The minister emphasised the need for joint cooperation by “turning this vision into reality our joint cooperation along with policies we develop to uplift the municipal business, particularly in urban planning, smart government and social partnership”.
Majid Al Mansouri, chairman of the Department of Municipal Affairs (DMA) in Abu Dhabi, also addressed the conference.
“By capitalising on global economic partnerships, having a flexible outlook towards adopting new economic models and establishing a sustainable, diversified economy, the UAE can benefit and attain long-term prosperity and enjoy an enhanced quality of living,” he told delegates.
Ahmed Mohammed Al Sherif, undersecretary of DMA, said the huge influx of expats meant measures were needed to protect the cultural identities of GCC countries.
“The demographic changes in the region require quick appropriate initiatives for sustainable development that ensure preserving our environment and traditions as well as our identity. Under the Abu Dhabi 2030 plan, all measures are under progress.”
Of the subjects that were discussed were the need for better infrastructure, public transport and landfill sites across the region.
The conference also focused on the private sector collaborations with municipalities and local government to enable new and more efficient services.
About 3,000 people were expected to attend the two-day event, which ends on Wednesday.