The UAE blazes new trail with innovation

Su Yanxian
The UAE has prioritized science, technology and innovation as its new growth engine. Here is the interview with Ali Obaid Al Dhaheri, the UAE ambassador to China.
Su Yanxian
The UAE blazes new trail with innovation

The theme of the Expo 2020 Dubai centers on "Communicating Minds, Creating the Future."

As the Country of Honor of 2021 Pujiang Innovation Forum, the United Arab Emirates has prioritized science, technology and innovation as its new growth engine. Here is the interview with Ali Obaid Al Dhaheri, the UAE ambassador to China, on the development concept.

Q: Please give a brief introduction of science, technology and innovation development in the UAE.

A: Despite being a young country, the UAE set science, technology and innovation (STI) as a national priority at an early stage and has worked out a number of national strategies and plans to promote its innovation strength and leadership in the world. For example, at the government leadership level, the UAE has four ministers related to STI. At the same time, we have developed the UAE Vision 2021 and UAE Centennial 2071. According to the 2020 Global Innovation Index report released by the World Intellectual Property Organization, the UAE maintained its high ranking of 34th in the world, the highest in the Arab world for the fifth consecutive year, and 22nd in the world in the Innovation Input Index.

In March this year, the UAE also launched its industrial strategy, "Operation 300bn." This is a comprehensive 10-year strategic plan that aims to establish the UAE's industrial sector as a driving force of a sustainable economic model. Based on the 300-billion initiative, we will provide financial and policy support to 13,500 micro and small enterprises in the UAE to encourage more private capital to engage in technology and innovation. The strategy also sets clear short and long-term goals to promote the UAE's industrial manufacturing capabilities so that our exports are proudly "Made in the UAE."

At the same time, government departments have also supported the development of science and technology innovation, such as the establishment of the Abu Dhabi Advanced Technology Research Council, the first research council in the Middle East, and the Technology Innovation Institute, an applied research institute. The Abu Dhabi Investment Office, Ghadan 21, Hub71 and other government departments offer incentives and policies for companies in Abu Dhabi or startup projects in specific science and technology sectors such as agri-tech, financial services, information and communications technology, health services and biomedicine.

In order to attract top global talent, the UAE government introduced the Golden Visa in 2019 to attract top tech talent, quality investors, entrepreneurs and students with outstanding scientific talent. Under this visa policy, eligible applicants are granted visas for a minimum of five years and a maximum of 10 years.

Thus, it is said that the UAE's overall STI policy is to strive for a more efficient and integrated ecosystem to transform groundbreaking ideas into market-ready products. At the same time, we extend an open invitation to the world to join us in creating value through innovation.

The UAE is focused on cutting-edge global technologies. For example, we are building a quantum computer lab in the capital, Abu Dhabi, and are currently in the process of developing the first UAE-made quantum computer. In addition, Dubai plans to have 25 percent of its buildings constructed by 3D printing by 2030, 25 percent of road transport to be smart and driverless, and 25 percent of its police force made up of robots. Also, Dubai has built the Hyperloop, the world's first super high-speed train, and successfully conducted a trial run with passengers in November 2020.

The UAE also has a long-standing commitment to harnessing innovative technology for the energy transition. On May 19 this year, we launched the Green Hydrogen project at the Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum Solar Park in Dubai, which will be the first solar-powered green hydrogen production facility in the Middle East. In addition, the UAE also has the Arab world's first nuclear power plant, the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant, which has four reactors with a total installed capacity of 5,600 megawatts and was commissioned in August last year.

The UAE blazes new trail with innovation

Ali Obaid Al Dhaheri, the UAE ambassador to China

Q: Please describe the progress of China-UAE cooperation and exchanges in science and technology and the vision for future.

A: Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the UAE in 1984, the friendship and cooperation between the two countries have developed smoothly.

The cooperation in the field of science and technology innovation is currently flourishing. For example, in agriculture, Yuan Longping, the "father of hybrid rice," successfully conducted a trial of desert sea rice in Dubai. In the medical field, last year, Sinopharm and G42 Group of the UAE launched cooperation on the COVID-19 vaccine. Sinopharm carried out phase III clinical trials in the UAE, and in March this year Sinopharm signed an agreement with Julphar of the UAE to produce Sinopharm vaccines in the UAE, with an expected capacity of 200 million doses per year. In the field of scientific research, a memorandum of understanding was signed earlier this year between the UAE University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences to deepen cooperation in science and innovation between the two countries. The Mohammed Bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence in the UAE is the first university in the world to focus on postgraduate training and verifiable applications in the field of artificial intelligence, and has hired distinguished Chinese scholars to hold key senior management and teaching positions at the university. In addition, Khalifa University of Science and Technology has also started cooperation with Tsinghua University. In the field of sci-tech, Huawei was involved in the construction of the communication system of the UAE Federal Railways (Etihad Rail) back in 2013. In 2019, the UAE and Huawei signed a cooperation agreement for the construction of 5G in the UAE. In May this year, the UAE and Huawei signed an MoU to expand and deepen the scope of their cooperation.

The UAE blazes new trail with innovation

Q: Please introduce the highlights of the Dubai Expo, especially those related to science and tech innovation.

A: The Expo 2020 Dubai will not only be a visual feast, but also a demonstration of technological achievements. More than 190 countries will participate in the Expo, which will be held online and offline, so that people from all over the world can experience the Expo.

This year's theme centers on "Communicating Minds, Creating the Future" with three thematic zones: the Opportunity Zone, the Mobility Zone and the Sustainability Zone. The Opportunity Zone is focused on unlocking the inherent potential and will address emerging industries, employment, education, financial capital and governance. The Mobility Zone centers on creating smarter and more productive connections in logistics, transportation, travel and digital connectivity. Finally, the Sustainability Zone operates on the idea that each generation has a responsibility to protect the world for the future. It will promote awareness of resource management, climate change and green growth, natural ecosystems and biodiversity, as well as the importance of sustainable cities and built habitats.

The first of several highlights that you can expect is the architectural styling of each venue. From one of the world's leading 360-degree projection surfaces to more than 100 distinctive national pavilions, visitors can experience countless architectural wonders in one place. The Al Wasl Dome is almost as wide as two Airbus A380s wing-to-wing. Second, people from around the world can experience the latest in human technology at the Expo, where our official partners will support more than 150 programmable robots with multi-touch displays, 5G networking capabilities and AI-powered object mapping and detection, all of which will ensure that visitors can experience cutting-edge service-based solution technologies. In addition, the Expo embodies the concept of the Smart City. At the end of the Expo 2020 Dubai, the Expo site will be transformed into a Smart City, a permanent futuristic residential, cultural, business and technology hub where the latest technologies can be tested.

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