Abu Dhabi’s emphasis on innovation and education remains despite oil weakness

The Abu Dhabi government’s emphasis on innovation and education will not be derailed by the new economic realities stemming from lower oil prices, according to Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon, chairman of the Department of Transport.

Sheikh Sultan played down the effect of lower oil prices on the government’s emphasis on innovation and education, on the sidelines of Insead’s Global Business Leaders conference in Abu Dhabi yesterday.

“It has been in our strategy and vision of Abu Dhabi since long ago, how to diversify away from oil,” Sheikh Sultan told The National. “Our GDP is now less and less dependent on oil, innovation and education will continue to be priorities for us.”

Sheikh Sultan said that while keeping pace with global innovation trends was a challenge, the country had a very ambitious and hard-working population ready to grasp the opportunities.

“In parallel we’re developing our industries, where our students can learn in the real world, in places like Strata, Masdar and similar initiatives in Abu Dhabi and the wider UAE, so that we can keep up with the movement of innovation all over the world,” he said.

In his opening address, Sheikh Sultan described innovation as “a must-have tool to navigate through the challenges that face us”.

He added: “In today’s business environment, innovation is not a luxury and must be integrated in all business models, both in public and private sectors.”

Proper educational backing for such innovation programmes was essential, according to Mohamed Yousif Baniyas, executive director and higher education adviser at Abu Dhabi Education Council.

“Proper education and empowerment can enable the conversion of ideas into reality, combining real-world technical skills with aspects such as capital management,” Mr Yousif Baniyas told conference delegates. “There is a need for the system to recognise, respect, and reward creative grass-roots innovation.”


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