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Long - Term Strategies For Dubais Economy

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Ibrahim Karsany

Former Director, Public Policy Division

Tag: Dubai economy Government Policy
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Ibrahim Kursany (PhD), Director
Economic Studies Division

To expand its socio-economic achievements, consolidate its development success story and compete in the New Economy, Dubai needs to adopt some basic long-term strategies. These strategies, if adopted, might ensure the continuity of the growth of Dubais economy smoothly along the road of sustainable development.
Potential Strategies to Consider
 The most notable strategies Dubai can adopt include re-engineering Dubai Government , using technology to improve service delivery, building an intellectual and physical infrastructure, and reshaping Dubai's economic environment.   

1.   Re-engineering Dubai Government
Dubai government began re-engineering itself some time back to become more adaptable, customer-oriented and performance-driven. To continue to proceed on this difficult, but necessary path, Dubai can:
1.1 Create a Result-based Government 
Result - based government focuses on achieving the outcomes that residents and businesses expect of government by directing resources to support policies and programmes that are effective in achieving those outcomes. Dubai's government should consider fulfilling the following:

? Continue its articulation of clear policy goals.
? Measure progress toward achieving those goals.
? Secure and direct the necessary resources to achieve policy goals.
? Manage for continuous improvement in service quality, delivery and effectiveness.
? Shift accountability from complying with rules and regulations to achieving results.
1.2 Employ Public-Private Partnerships
The strategic partnership between government and private sector institutions has been a main characteristic of Dubais development path.  It provides one of the most effective means for solving problems and delivering services. The Directors General of Government Departments can take several steps to create and sustain these partnerships in so many important policy areas:

? Add more broad-based groups of potential partners to those already identified and build personal relationships to recruit them.  
? Re-invent the healthy tradition adopted long time back by Dubais Department of Economic Development of convening forums that raise important issues and attract potential partners.
? Set clear expectations of what each partnership is to accomplish, establish a manageable timetable, and assign partners meaningful responsibilities.
? Establish results-based accountability and better align public sector practices with those in the private sector, especially its foreign section.
? Provide information on best practices and replicable models.
? Build trust among partners by keeping them informed on the progress being made to achieve desired goals.
? Give partners credit and recognition.
1.3  Explore Privatization of Public Functions 
Dubai Government needs to explore whether it should deliver a particular good or service by itself, or contract out that good or service and monitor to ensure quality. By privatizing certain services, the government can always advance competition and innovation. In addition, without compromising quality it can generate income from selling government assets to the private sector either directly or through listing them on DFM.
2.  Using Technology to Improve Service Delivery
Dubai Government must transform itself into a customer-driven organization. Information and communication technology (ICT), such as the Internet, is a powerful tool the government can use to accomplish that goal. Dubai Government should use the Internet to create a one-stop shopping site for people and businesses seeking government services. The leading initiative of establishing an E-government in Dubai must continue and be fully accomplished.

3.   Building An Intellectual and Physical Infrastructure
Dubai Government shall continue investing in its human and physical capital in order to attract knowledge workers and businesses. Investment in people should focus on education and lifelong learning for nationals, ensuring they have opportunities to gain the required knowledge and skills for the New Economy. Physical investment should focus on traditional infrastructure - roads, ports and airports - as well as the critical telecommunication backbone needed in the New Economy. Investing in human and physical capital requires Dubai government to:
3.1  Invest in Early Childhood Development
Invest in early childhood development to ensure that children are ready to learn at an early age through the following actions:
? Redefine education to start at early childhood.
? Improve access to quality early child care and education.
? Improve coordination among early childhood programmes.

3.2 Reform Elementary and Secondary Education
Dubai Government should reform elementary and secondary school education, including improvement in teaching quality, to ensure that students are ready for post-secondary education and the knowledge-based workplace through the following actions:

? Implement high academic standards for student achievement.
? Continue the policy of school monitoring and assessment adopted by Knowledge Authority and align it with the standards of the Ministry of Education.
? Create policies to hold educational departments, schools, educators, and students accountable for student learning.
? Promote reforms in higher education that lead to improved teacher preparation.
? Facilitate the creation of partnerships between the institutions that prepare teachers and elementary and secondary schools authorities. 

? Promote co-curricular programs for students to put classroom    learning to practical use.

3.3 Invest in the Higher Education System
Dubai Government should invest in the higher education system and encourage it to be more market-driven and responsive to the needs of the new economy workers and businesses through these actions:
? Expand and improve capacity to meet demands.
? Improve quality and reward innovation.
? Promote co-curricular programs for students to put classroom    learning to practical use. 
? Improve preparation for and access to post-secondary education.
3.4 Support National Workforce Training
Dubai Government support of national workforce training will raise the skills of the national knowledge workers and help their transition to higher-paying jobs. Dubai's public workforce development system urgently needs to

? Align more closely with the standards and best practices that are part of the private sector's internal human resources systems. 
? Move beyond initial job preparation and placement to include ongoing skill development and career progression.
? Exploit more effectively work-based learning opportunities by structuring work experience and entry-level jobs for learning.
? Create career pathways to further education and upward mobility for all national  public  workers.

3.5 Create a Research and Development Base
Dubai Government should create a research and development base using the Emirate's educational system to attract national intellectual talent and promote technology transfer, taking the successful experience of the Emirates Institution for Advance Science and Technology (EIAST) as a role model, through the following actions:

? Invest in the Emirate's research and development assets.
? Encourage university-industry cooperation and interaction.
? Facilitate technology-transfer and commercialization.
3.6 Enhance the Physical Infrastructure
Dubai Government should continue its well recognized efforts to enhance the physical infrastructure to ensure that transportation and telecommunications networks are sufficient and supportive to the growth process in the new economy.
4.   Reshaping Dubai's Economic Environment
Dubai Government needs to consolidate its efforts to reshape the economic environment to facilitate business expansion and eliminate market distortions caused by outmoded regulations. Now that knowledge is the most important factor of production, the government must re-evaluate the public sector's role in facilitating the start-up of new businesses, attracting knowledge workers who power these new businesses, and creating amenities conducive to workers and businesses flourishing. Reshaping the economic environment requires Dubai Government to

? Assist entrepreneurs and business start-ups through incubation centers and other facilities.
? Reformulate and upgrade regulations to reflect knowledge economy businesses.
? Examine regulations and remove the potential for market distortions.
? Pay attention to issues affecting the quality of life, which is a key factor in knowledge workers and business location decisions.
Strategies Implementation
Fortunately, Dubai's vision and major characteristics support the implementation of these suggested strategies. Dubais comparative strengths include:

? Safe and supportive environment for commerce.
? Well-established legal and institutional structures.
? A world class infrastructure and telecommunications network.
? A growing tradition of rapid technology uptake.
? Consumer markets are sophisticated and enthusiastic about new information, products and services.
? Dubai is close to Asian markets, trade strongly in the region already, and have a body of business and trade knowledge that will be critical to expanding the Knowledge-based economy in the region.
? Because Dubai lies in a different time zone to Europe and East Asia, a Dubai base allows for global continuity of workflow and efficient handover of activities for firms servicing markets in two hemispheres.
? As an Emirate with great multinational diversity, Dubai has a natural advantage as a regional base for firms looking to build their business in the global New Economy.
? Dubai's Strategic location, lifestyle and environment are attractive to international enterprises.
? Dubai's life is characterized by diversity, creativity and openness.

All of these strategies, in addition to the Emirates strengths and well recognized advantages, will position Dubai well above its weight in the global Knowledge-based economy, but do not by themselves guarantee the continuity of this position. In order to achieve this objective, Dubai Government must work hard to remove all the hurdles and barriers which hold back the Emirate's efforts to do so. Only recently,Dubais strongest competitor in the region, Qatar, started taking drastic measures to promote its business climate and attract foreign direct investment (FDI), including the bold step of allowing (100%) ownership of foreign investment in almost all of its strategic economic sectors. Dubai must follow suit in order to consolidate its position as a leading trade and business hub in the region and beyond.

IK  21-8-2011

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