The UAE’s vision of creating a global hub for groundbreaking technology and innovation is not a destination but a journey. On the face of it, that may sound a tad cliché, but digging a little deeper reveals a path of self-reliance, self-determination, and an unwavering commitment to build a sustainable ecosystem where innovation and technology can flourish driving the nation’s burgeoning knowledge economy.
A nation of plentiful resources, the natural, easier option for the UAE is to buy rather than to make. However, its extraordinary vision and ambition to lead by example means the country has shunned the path of least resistance to carve out its place among the most progressive nations in the world in less than 50 years assuming leadership on many fronts, both regionally and internationally, with the climate challenge being the latest example.
Master plans such as the National Innovation Strategy, the UAE Strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the UAE Strategy for Artificial Intelligence, National Cybersecurity Strategy 2019, and the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030 reflect what the country wants to achieve on the scientific front. And these strategies are all backed up by action. Simply speaking, research and development that are fundamental to these strategies are entirely reliant on local, regional, and global cooperation, something which is not commonly seen or heard of. The Advanced Technology Research Council has given Abu Dhabi just that structure and direction. At ASPIRE, our job is to help turn that vision into reality.
This thrust on partnership and cooperation proved immensely attractive to me, like so many scientific innovators from around the world, who flock to this part of the Gulf to quench their thirst for discovery.
Arriving in Abu Dhabi, I immediately felt its infectious collaborative environment that pervades the emirate. And this first year has been one amazing ride of innovation and collaboration. We’ve launched the MBZIRC Maritime Grand Challenge aimed at resolving critical safety and security issues in the shipping industry, whilst in partnership with XPRIZE, we’ve launched “Feed the Next Billion” to revolutionize the global food supply chain and its impact on communities around the world.
It’s not hard to see the connection between Abu Dhabi’s collaborative principles geared towards the larger good of humanity with the ideas behind MBZIRC and Feed the Next Billion. Both competitions engage innovators and talented research teams from all over the world to develop groundbreaking solutions to some of the world’s pressing challenges. The contests will prove the power of collaboration and there’s no better place for that to happen than here in my adopted homeland.