Fifty years is not long for a country’s development; certainly not long enough for a nation that had to be literally built from the scratch in the middle of a desert. Yet, the UAE celebrates the Golden Jubilee this year with pride, having traversed an unbelievable distance in its journey thus far.
Today, the country is poised to make a paradigm shift from a hydrocarbon to a knowledge economy, examples of which are rare, if at all there are any. It recently raised eyebrows when it launched a roadmap to achieve the Net-Zero goal by 2050, followed by an announcement that it would host the UN climate summit, COP 28, in 2023.
At the heart of all these bold initiatives lies an extraordinary leadership, clear vision and strong resolve. There is little wonder that the Emirates is a hub of technology innovation driving research and development in every field, from agriculture to celestial exploration, attracting talent from all over the world.
When I landed here last year to carry forward the mission of ASPIRE, the technology programme management arm of Abu Dhabi’s Advanced Technology Research Council, I realised to my delight how strong the freedom to experiment and access disruptive ideas is here. Paired with global collaboration, it is this mindset that acts as a driving force of the innovation ecosystem.
This became a guiding tool for me to drive the creation of future transformative technologies. The result is astounding: in a year, we have brought together exceptional people, ideas, resources and technologies to solve complex challenges through a rigorous discovery and inquiry-based approach.
To further our ambition, we have launched the MBZIRC Maritime Grand Challenge, which will take place in Abu Dhabi in 2023. Adopting the UAE’s formula of success, we have invited universities, research establishments, companies and individual innovators to collaborate and build an autonomous system that would potentially put an end to crimes at sea such as piracy, smuggling and illegal fishing.
Even if no solution is found, we will surely inspire research in this field. That’s our gain; that’s the country’s gain. The spirit that is ingrained in the culture here is the one that makes one strive and not to yield. This is what inspires innovators to flock to the shores of Abu Dhabi and the UAE to pursue their dreams.