MBRSG chief: public-private deals crucial for UAE tech

The MBRSG UAE Public Policy Forum 2018 is set to take place on 15th-16th January
The MBRSG UAE Public Policy Forum 2018 is set to take place on 15th-16th January

The Mohammed bin Rashid School of Government’s (MBRSG) acting director of academic affairs Dr Racquel Warner has highlighted the long-term importance of responsible public-private sector collaboration in the UAE’s technology industry.

Dr Warner was speaking at the press conference for the UAE Public Policy Forum, which is due to take place on 15th-16th January at Dubai World Trade Centre, which is hosted by MBRSG.

The Forum is set to centre on the importance of public-private partnerships in the UAE, with a focus on the healthcare, education, physical infrastructure and sustainable development industries.

Referencing the example of Smart Dubai’s partnership with IBM, which will see the tech firm help to implement the emirate’s 2020 Blockchain Strategy, Dr Warner said that the private sector plays an essential role in benefiting the public-sector technology space in the UAE.

“A lot of technologies have come about as a result of studies that were done by this country’s private sector partners,” she said. “Most projects that you see in Dubai have come out of research that’s been done by the private sector, where the government has responded appropriately. The role of innovation in that is significant. The UAE wants to be a global innovation hub and to be smart, and the country is doing a lot of things to make sure that happens. The skill and capacity to do that does not yet necessarily reside in the government.

“There is that aspect of knowledge sharing, where the government is saying to the private sector – who has the skills and innovation around technology – we’re inviting you to come and transfer that knowledge. At a strategic level, the government is using those partnerships to develop its own population.”

Dr Warner added that the UAE is keen to lessons from the United Kingdom, a country who set great store in the importance of public-private partnerships in the past few decades. “Twenty years ago, PPPs in the UK were the in-thing, but over time they came to realise that mistakes were made, and they had to ensure that the risks associated with partnerships were properly distributed and that there was accountability,” she said.

“The private sector will say, ‘If we’re going to invest in your country and infrastructure projects, this is what we’re expecting’. The government needs to say, ‘we’d love you to invest, but this is how we want you to advance our goals.’”

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