The 'virtual' Ministry of Possibilities is a reality - but how will it work?

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid has outlined his vision for the newly-formed government body

Mohammed bin Rashid launches the Ministry of "impossible". WAM
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The UAE's virtual ministry has become a reality - and it aims to take an unconventional approach to tackling the country's most pressing challenges.

The Ministry of Possibilities, which translates from Arabic as the ministry of nothing impossible, was launched by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai on Tuesday.

Sheikh Mohammed said the ministry - which will have no designated minister and will be overseen by a committee of existing ministries - has been set up as the UAE requires "modern systems to make our unconventional ambitions a reality".

"The future brings challenges that require constant government restructuring," said Sheikh Mohammed.

"The word impossible does not exist in our dictionary. It is not part of our vision and will never be part of our future.”

Sheikh Mohammed has set up four departments of the ministry to work on a number of national programmes, the Department of Anticipatory Services, the Department of Behavioral Rewards, Department of UAE Talent and Department of Government Procurement.

Zvika Krieger, Head of Technology Policy at the World Economic Forum, said that "the UAE has a proven track record of re-writing the rule book on government innovation, and this new initiative has the potential to continue that tradition and further establish the Emirates as a leader in the Fourth Industrial Revolution".

"Particularly amidst the unprecedented speed, scope, and scale of technological change we are experiencing, new approaches to governance and policymaking are essential," he said.

The UAE is set to lead the region’s contribution to the development of new technologies such as precision medicine, artificial intelligence and blockchain. Together with the Forum it is setting up an advanced research centre in Dubai.

"Getting innovative and ambitious things done in government often requires the ability to rapidly bring together key stakeholders in agile and flexible ways. Sometimes bypassing the traditional decision making processes is the only way to break through conventional wisdom and challenge business as usual," Mr Krieger said.

What will the new departments do?

The Department of Behavioural Rewards will develop a strategy to reward positive behaviour, using a point-based system. People will have the opportunity to collect points that can be used as payment for government services.

The Department of UAE Talent will create an environment to allow Emiratis to unlock their potential and play a leading role in the future of the country.

The department will identify talent of all ages and from all sections of society.

The Department of Government Procurement has been given a mission statement to make government services faster and more efficient, especially for businesses.

The Department of Anticipatory Services aims to address problems for customers before they even happen.

A team drawn from a variety of government bodies and experts in data analysis and data privacy will be tasked with anticipating the needs of the public and providing services before they are even requested.

The department will conduct research to assess the current state of government service delivery and identify areas of improvement.

The UAE isn't the only country taking an innovative approach to governance.

The launch of a new branch of government to improve services in the country comes after Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid criticised the performance of Emirates Post.

He shared an image of lengthy queues at a branch of Emirates Post and spoke of the need for a broader focus on customer service and "transparency" in public services.

Ministry to help country hit bold targets

The Ministry of Possibilities has been brought into operation to support efforts to make the UAE the leading nation in the world, by the time of its 100th anniversary in 2071.

The authority will bring together federal and local governments and work with the private sector to improve quality of life and bolster government services.

While the ministry is being heralded as a virtual body, it will have a  physical location, at Emirates Towers in Dubai.

Sheikh Mohammed announced the ministry at an event attended by a number of senior ministers and dignitaries, including Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohamed, Crown Prince of Dubai and Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior.

His Excellency Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs and the Future, said “the UAE leadership continues to reinforce the concept of the possible in all sectors of life, dedicating all possible capabilities, resources, energies and, most importantly, the willpower to defy the impossible”.

“The ministry will address urgent government issues by developing proactive and radical solutions to overcome pressing challenges, improve government services and instill a culture of tackling the impossible.”