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UAE's role in the next industrial revolution

The UAE is to join with the World Economic Forum (WEF) to establish the first permanent policy unit to study and implement measures regarding the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” – the transformation of business and society brought about by technological advances.

Mohammed Al Gergawi, UAE Minister for Cabinet Affairs and the Future, announced the initiative at the WEF summit of Global Future Councils in Dubai. He promised full UAE government backing and the inclusion of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) council in the agenda of UAE Vision 2021 strategy plan.

“This is about concrete projects regarding 4IR to be implemented on the ground,” Mr Al Gergawi said, adding that the council would have a permanent presence in the Arabian Gulf region backed by 5,000 experts from academia, government and the private sector.

Mr Al Gergawi said that the council would be based on six “pillars”: its establishment by the Cabinet of the UAE; collaboration with the WEF to develop a global governance framework to implement 4IR technology; the setting up of 4IR councils round the world to advise policymakers on technology implementation.

There would also be a special programme to engage Gulf region governments, including meetings of advisers; the setting up in the UAE of the world’s first laboratory to study and implement 4IR technologies like 3D printing, Blockchain and artificial intelligence.

Mr Al Gergawi said that the coming of the 4IR presented “challenges and opportunities” for the Arab world. “The education system needs to be changed, we need a system that will produce a different kind of workforce.

“Teachers will have to find a new way of thinking. In the past 10 years there has developed a new way of doing business, with the likes of Google, Uber and Airbnb.

“We have to teach students to be computer coders at an early age.”

He said the 4IR strategy was a “tremendous opportunity for global talent to implement a plan that will impact human life and the prosperity of the world”.

The plan would seek to implement the results of discussions taking place in Dubai by some 700 thought leaders in 35 different councils, which would form part of the agenda for the WEF’s annual meeting in Davos Switzerland next January.

Mr Al Gergawi repeated the UAE’s position regarding the new American president-elect, Donald Trump. “We deal with the United States as a country. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has already had a phone call with Mr Trump a couple of days ago.

“Our relationship with America is very strategic. The government of the US is based on institutions and organisations, and we deal with the president as the representative of one of those institutions.”

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