What is the UAE's National Experts Programme?

A plan to establish a rich base of national expertise to drive the country towards a knowledge-based economy has been announced - but what does it entail?

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - January 07, 2019: HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces (C), delivers a speech during the launch of the National Experts Program, at The Founders Memorial.

( Rashed Al Mansoori / Ministry of Presidential Affairs )
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Some of the brightest Emiratis across the country will be paired with industry leaders as part of a mentorship programme to produce experts who will drive the country’s development.

The National Experts Programme was launched by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, this week during a visit to the capital's Founder’s Memorial.

Sheikh Mohamed said the aim of the programme is to establish a rich base of national expertise that will drive the country towards a knowledge-based economy. But what does it entail?

What is the National Experts Programme?

Twenty Emiratis from a range of backgrounds have been selected to train with a mentor to develop their assigned skill. Each skill falls within four main clusters: Social Development, Economic Development, Infrastructure and Environment, and Security and International Affairs.

Throughout the six-month programme, candidates will take part in both classroom-based and off-site learning taught by experts. They will shadow their mentor and submit a sector-specific project that requires the submission of a strategy report addressing a challenge or an opportunity in depth, an overall sector review and a proposed road map.

They will then be guided into longer-term executive learning to help them attain a credible level of sector-specific expertise in accordance with international standards, reported state news agency Wam.

Directed by Ahmed Talib Al Shamsi, the programme will be held annually with the aim of graduating an alumnus of 100 national experts — in five batches — by 2022.

Who are the future National Experts of this country?

The 20 experts will be trained within four categories:

Social Development

Sheikha Al Khayyat, a senior research strategy and policy analyst, will specialise in public services and administration

Khalifa Bin Hindi, analyst from the Ministry of Cabinet Affairs and the Future, will specialise in community and social services

Afra Bintouq, a second year resident at Dubai Health Authority, will specialise in health and well-being

Noora Al Mualla, head of the Modern Arab Art Department of Sharjah Art Foundation, will specialise in culture

Khaled Al Remeithi, global partnerships division manager for the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge, will specialise in education and social development

Abeer Al Khaja, fitness development manager at Zabeel Ladies, will specialise in sports expertise

Economic Development

Asma Fikri, collaborating researcher at the Rashid Centre for Diabetes and Research, will specialise in research and development

Mahmoud Adi, senior associate technology of manufacturing and mining at Mubadala Investment Company, will specialise in business and financial services

Joud Al Marar, senior external affairs officer at Louvre Abu Dhabi, will specialise in tourism, retail and leisure

Yaqoob Al Shamsi, research and development engineer at Emirates Technology Innovation Centre, will specialise in manufacturing

Mariam Al Meraikhi, senior executive for internal communications at Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Centre, will specialise in media and creative industries

Infrastructure and Environment

Hadif Zamzam, senior associate at Al Dar Properties, will specialise in construction, asset development and management

Ammar Almarzooqi, senior managing consultant at IBM Security Services, will specialise in smart government

Mohamed Al Sharhan, projects manager at Dubai Future Foundation, will specialise on logistics and transport

Khalifa Alhemeiri, rotating machinery Engineer at AdnocOffshore, will specialise in energy and economy

Abdullah Al Remeithi, acting director policy and regulations at Environment Agency Abu Dhabi, will specialise in the environment

Security and International Affairs:

Mohammed Al Qassimi, a specialist at the Signals Intelligence Agency, will concentrate on security affairs

Noor Almehairi, bariatric clinical dietitian from Healthpoint Hospital, will focus on food security

Aisha Harib, head of CSR for the Community Development Authority, will specialise in foreign aid and philanthropy

Khalifa Al Suwaidi, senior communications specialist at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, will specialise in diplomacy and international affairs


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How were they chosen?

The candidates were selected following recommendations, which were followed with in-depth interviews to establish knowledge of particular sectors, a strong desire to serve the nation and a long-term commitment to personal development.

Who will be their mentors?

The Social Development cluster mentors are:

For public services and administration: Ohoud Al Roumi, Minister of State for Happiness and Well-being

For community and social services: Hessa Buhumaid, Minister of Community Development

For health and well-being: Sheikh Abdulla Al Hamed, chairman of Abu Dhabi Health Department for Education and Social Development

For culture: Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development

For education and social development: Dr Ahmed Al Falasi, Minister of State for Higher Education and Advanced Skills

For sports: Saeed Hareb, secretary general of Dubai Sports Council

Mentors in the Economic Development cluster are:

For business and financial services: Khaldoon Al Mubarak, chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Affairs Authority, chairman Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation Board of Directors, group chief executive and managing director of Mubadala Investment Company

For tourism, retail and leisure: Saif Ghobash, Undersecretary of the Department of Culture and Tourism — Abu Dhabi

For manufacturing: Homaid Al Shimmari, deputy group chief executive and chief corporate and human capital officer at Mubadala Investment Company

For media and creative industries: Muna Al Marri, director general of the Government of Dubai Media Office

For research and development: Sara Al Amiri, Minister of State for Advanced Sciences

Mentors within the Infrastructure and Environment cluster are:

For construction, asset development and management: Mohamed Alabbar, founder and chairman of Emaar Group

For Smart Government: Hamad Al Mansoori, director general Telecommunications Regulatory Authority

For logistics and transport: Mattar Al Tayer, director general and Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors Road & Transport Authority — Dubai

For energy and economy: Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of State

For the environment: Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment

Within the security and international affairs pillar, the mentors are:

For security affairs: Maj Gen Mohammed Al Romaithi, commander-in-chief of Abu Dhabi Police

For food security: Mariam Al Muhairi, Minister of State for Food Security

For foreign aid and philanthropy: Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation

For diplomacy and international affairs: Saeed Al Dhanhani, director general of the Public Diplomacy Office

Apart from their mentors, the candidates will be supported by local professionals and academic advisers who are top executives from leading organisations chosen for their achievements within the relevant sectors. They will help the candidates with their capstone projects. A life coach will also help the candidates reflect on their skills and unlock their full potential.

What was the inspiration behind the programme?

During Sheikh Mohamed’s visit to the Founder’s Memorial, he told the members of the programme that seeing their faces gave him hope.

"I am reminded of when the late Sheikh Zayed decided to build the breakwater in Abu Dhabi.

"His solution was to rely on our nationals who later became captains of industry. We are blessed with the advancement we are witnessing and we are blessed to have young people like you, our sons and daughters, who will secure a sustainable future for our nation."

He said Sheikh Zayed’s priorities were centred on building and developing human capital, which he identified as a national treasure.

"Today we rejoice because we are nurturing Emirati experts," he said. "We will celebrate when we reach a stage where we have specialist cadres to lead and guide playing a key advisory role in the national development programme, bringing to the table sector-specific expertise and a deep understanding of the UAE’s aims and needs.”