ABU DHABIi // The UAE has the resources and the leadership to encourage entrepreneurship - what comes next must be training and education to motivate young potential business leaders, a leading academic has said.
James Ryan, a management professor at the University of Sharjah, surveyed 305 students about attitudes to entrepreneurship and achievement. University students studying the United Arab Emirates were aged 18 to 22, with 57 per cent of them Emirati.
"The results indicate that, with the level of investment the UAE Government is putting into developing entrepreneurs, we need to look at not just infrastructure and funding to support entrepreneurs, but also the personal and psychological dimensions; the type of training and investment in people," Prof Ryan said.
Abu Dhabi is redoubling its efforts in the field of entrepreneurship in hopes of fostering new small and medium enterprises to service the larger part of the emirate's economy, said James Graham, the general manager of AIM Events in Abu Dhabi.
AIM Events organised the second Abu Dhabi Innovation Forum this week and the company's goal is to help Abu Dhabi to become an entrepreneurial city. Events at the forum had a global perspective with local relevance and 70 per cent of the delegates were Emiratis.
"We're looking at what Abu Dhabi needs to do to develop as a place that attracts entrepreneurial business," Mr Graham said.
Osama Ghanim, the chief executive of Innovabia, a company that helps businesses to innovate, said the UAE market was in need of specialised companies.
"The education system must teach people the basics of innovation and although regional universities are focusing on entrepreneurship, they lack innovation management," he said. "Educational programmes focusing on entrepreneurship will go a long way," Prof Ryan said.
Naufel Vilcassim, the faculty director of the London Business School branch in Dubai, which offers an executive MBA programme, said it was the "first full-fledged high-ranked MBA to come to the region, which is significant".
"We have now created a network of 400 people who have gone through the programme," he said. "Our classes have up to 80 students, eight per cent of whom are Emiratis."
A critical part of the UAE economy, he said, has its origins in family businesses practices which the school was trying to update.
Prof Ryan said small businesses contribute most to the economy so "it's vital for a healthy economy that we have entrepreneurs". "We've got the resources and we have the leadership to provide the infrastructure to support it, what we need is to motivate individuals themselves through training, education and we can go a long way to providing that motivation," he said.
This article has been amended since its original publication. The number of university students studying the UAE in the survey was 305, and not the number of UAE university students.