Designing the next 50 years: UAE plans unified transformation

As the United Arab Emirates (UAE) prepares for its 50th anniversary later this year, its policy-makers and information and communication technology (ICT) planners are thinking hard about which way to go for the next 50.

As its comprehensive digital transformation picks up steam, the country is focused on a long-term, multi-pillar approach based on collaborative, future-focused public participation.

The concept of a forward-looking, comprehensive vision for social and economic development has guided national decision making ever since the seven emirates in the Gulf region came together to form a sovereign nation in 1971.

The next development plan, 'Designing the Next 50', aims to propel the UAE through a major public “eParticipation” project engaging all segments of the society, from the public and private sectors to citizens and residents. The plan also aims to prepare future generations with the skills and knowledge to face rapid changes, with a stated aim to make the UAE “the best country globally” by the centennial in 2071.

Pooling ideas

To start with, the government has initiated a digital platform to pool ideas and suggestions from the public. The platform aims to gather ideas from citizens and residents on shaping the UAE's next five decades in multiple sectors, including health, education, social development, economy, environment, housing, tourism, entrepreneurship, investment, skill development, societal values, culture, family relations, sports, youth, food security, science, and advanced technologies.

The idea is for citizens and foreign residents representing all segments of the diverse society to share their views and aspirations the country's future with the UAE's cabinet ministers. Panel discussions and brainstorming sessions bring public and private entities together to draft ideas and recommendations.

The roadmap to 2071 calls for full collaboration among public, semi-private and private sectors under an integrated system to develop innovative work models.

The Ministry of Culture and Youth (MCY) has encouraged young people to participate through “youth circle” events and activities, with remote sessions to help shape the UAE Centennial Plan.

These collaborative efforts should ultimately prepare the country for a post-oil era with the transition to a knowledge-based economy, investing in human capabilities, enhancing global competitiveness, and driving sustainable development for future generations.

Moonshot innovation

The Mohammed Bin Rashid Centre for Government Innovation has kicked off its 2071 Moonshot Apprenticeship initiative, aiming to build the skills and abilities of the best and brightest Emirati and international students and innovators.

Earlier this year, the Government launched the Jubilee Lab in the run-up to the inauguration of a key planning and innovation conference for talented young Emiratis, the Mohamed Bin Zayed Majlis for Future Generations.

The virtual session offered an interactive platform for young people to share their ideas and propose bold and innovative solutions for the UAE's journey forward.

The three-day laboratory – facilitated by experts and attended by 100 participants – highlighted three primary themes: A Changing World, New Opportunities, and The Next 50 Years. It featured discussions of sustainability, the individual carbon footprint, food waste, energy consumption, developing the education sector, the tech industry, and creative tactics to combat fake news.

Twelve ministers, six federal and local government officials, international experts and local and international entrepreneurs took part, along with UAE- and foreign-based university students, in this third edition of the Majlis, organized by the Education Affairs Office at the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s Court under the theme 'Thriving in the Next Normal'.

The Majlis unveiled “Looking to the Future”, a first-of-its-kind study documenting the vision of young Emiratis for the next five decades, based on the findings of a two-phase survey of around 3,000 Emirati university students.

The Majlis offered an exceptional opportunity for youth to communicate with leaders, decision-makers, and experts. It helped hone their skills, expand their expertise, and contribute to national efforts to plan for the next 50 years.


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