Dubai, UAE, 28 January 2015: The fifth edition of the Annual Investment Meeting (AIM) organized by UAE ministry of Economy from 30 March - 1 April 2015 at the Dubai international Convention and Exhibition Center is being held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, on the theme “Sustainable Development through FDI Induced Innovation and Technology Transfer”. This theme supports the national innovation policies in line with the comprehensive National Innovation Strategy of the UAE with the goal of making the UAE one of the most innovative nations in the world within seven years. The strategy embraces in its first phase 30 national initiatives for achieving a top rank in innovation, especially after that the UAE was named the most innovative Arab nation in 2014.
HH Sheikh Mohammed remarked while announcing the strategy that innovation is driven by effective institutions, strong policies, specialised skills, and an economy where all sectors work together to discover new ways to conduct business. A flexible and creative economy based on a national culture of innovation is the fastest and most sustainable way to reinforce the UAE’s competitiveness on a global level.
The Dubai Strategy launched last December clearly lists the key drivers of sustainable development, the most important of them being innovation.
Today, the current annual investment in innovation is around AED14 billion in the UAE, of which AED7 billion goes to research and development; but spending is expected to rise significantly in the years to come.
Sustainable development means from a broad perspective, developing the right mix of economic, social and environmental policies for the present and future. However, foreseeing the future is not easy, and this is where the importance this year's AIM’s theme is visible, as it relates to achieving sustainability through quality investments based on innovation and technology transfer.
A deeper look shows that we can spot the similarities between the developed and the developing economies. The developing countries seek to benefit from the expertise of the developed countries, as seen in the waves of economic development policies in Western Europe. The United Kingdom is a good example of this: it saw gradual decrease in industries of steel and coal in the seventies and eighties which has led to put in place a strategy based on FDI, which focused on attracting people of specific skills through the development of the manufacturing sector. The solution adopted at that time actually addressed that high surge in the unemployment rates in some parts of Britain, and it matched with the need for transferable skills to a huge number of laborers who used to commonly work in handicrafts.
With the gradual expansion in the European Union to the East and the priorities given to the developing regions, Eastern Europe benefited by providing a more competitive, skilled and supported laborers base, and Britain started priotising the promotion of what was known as “Knowledge Economy”. This drive came generated more new jobs in the UK through collective skills available at that time.
In many cases, the developing economies benefit from this expertise because many of these countries depend on innovation and technology transfer as key drivers of national economic strategies.
The concept of Sustainable FDI is now more important than at any other time in history, because this approach not only attracts foreign investment but also leaves its impact on host countries that benefit from technology transfer through investment.
This topic is very important in the UAE, especially against the huge economic development seen in the past few years, which was largely driven by FDI.
Just as Britain has seen a drop in the competitiveness of its natural resources and manufacturing during the last decades and as a result it shifted its FDI policy, the UAE which also used to depend heavily on its oil reserves moved towards diversifying its economy and thus succeeded in becoming the trade, services, logistics, finance and tourism hub of the region.
The UAE has a farsighted vision and it values the concept that continuous development of services, manufacturing should be based on technology and innovation to be sustainable.
The UAE has ambitions to become the leading technological hub in Europe, Middle East and Africa and to accomplish this it needs technology transfer that FDI can provide. The UAR FDI-driven economic strategy attracted higher quality and value added investments and policy makers are now more aware of the importance of developing local skills and nurturing them not only through FDI but also through proactive internal innovation.
AIM 2015 is rooting for a sustainable economy and society, and also seems to blend technology transfer with local innovation. This will also trigger the use of FDI projects as a means to continue the development of local skills and providing sustainable job opportunities for coming generations.
Sustainable FDI and economic policies that encourage innovation and technology transfer through FDI will be the key topics that will be discussed at the AIM that is expected to attract more than 500 exhibitor companies from 140 countries. It will also display products, services and projects from industries like agriculture, aviation, basic commodities, trade, construction, education, research centers, energy, financing, financial services, free zones management, insurance, government, healthcare, investment in basic infrastructure for IT communications, legal, logistics, pharmaceutical, marine industries, mining and real estate development, tourism and hospitality, transportation and waste management.