UAE President announces Dh300 billion plan for innovation projects

ABU DHABI // The President, Sheikh Khalifa, has announced details of a plan worth more than Dh300 billion to foster a knowledge economy and innovation, and prepare the UAE for a world after oil.

The Emirates Science, Technology and Innovation Higher Policy will include 100 initiatives with major investments in education, health, energy, transport, space and water.

It will include fields such as robotics, solar power, developing intellectual property, stem cell research and bio-technology.

“The UAE is working towards establishing a solid future for coming generations away from the fluctuation of energy prices and markets,” said Sheikh Khalifa. “The UAE has set its course for a post-oil world through investing in the development of our people in the fields of science and advanced technology.

“Creating sustainable wealth for the coming generation will depend on science, knowledge, technology and innovation. The policy adopted today is a turning point in our journey to develop the UAE economically and socially.”

Sheikh Khalifa made the announcement as part of national Innovation Week celebrations.

The funds will mostly go towards research and development, and tripling the number of people working in the knowledge economy by 2021.

Most of the funds will be focused on developing alternative energy, with Dh128bn allocated for investments in clean energy projects and another Dh72bn towards renewables.

Of the rest, Dh40bn will go to aviation research, Dh20bn to the nascent space industry, Dh31bn to enhancing research across science, and Dh12bn to establish innovation incubators and academic research centres.

“Legislative recommendations and clear financial investment is a strategic decision that aims to change the national economy equation to drive it away from depending on limited oil resources,” said Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai.

“Our aim, as my brother Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, has said, ‘is to celebrate the last oil barrel we export because we will be prepared for that day when it comes’.”

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed said: “We don’t only seek to transfer knowledge, but also to instil it in our minds in a way that generates creative ideas and produces innovative solutions in the best interest and well-being of the nation and humanity at large.”

Among the projects are expansion of Masdar’s solar energy centre, developing solar storage and incubators for clean energy technology.

Masdar’s desalination programmes, innovations in cloud seeding and preserving water resources were others.

As part of Innovation Week, Abu Dhabi has launched 132 projects with local and international companies, including Google, which will hold programming events at Al Ittihad and Al Bateen schools on Sunday.

The “Mubtaker” Centre for Innovation will open at Raha Beach today and Masdar will launch an experimental desalination plant powered by renewable energy on Monday.

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