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UAE comes first in MENA innovation index

Dubai telco du hosts Global Innovation Index 2014 launch conference

Lanvin: "All the things which this part of the world is famous for such as mathematics, algebra and astronomy need to be revived."
Lanvin: "All the things which this part of the world is famous for such as mathematics, algebra and astronomy need to be revived."

The UAE ranked first for overall performance in the MENA rankings of the Global Innovation Index (GII) 2014, it was announced today.

The Global Innovation Index 2014 launch conference, which was hosted by du also revealed that out of 143 countries, Switzerland remains at the top position globally for innovation and the UAE are in 36th place.

Speaking at the launch, about why the UAE is at these positions, Professor Bruno Lanvin, executive director, INSEAD Competitiveness Index said: "The nature of innovation has to be rooted in each country not from anywhere else. All the things which this part of the world is famous for such as mathematics, algebra and astronomy need to be revived as these things don't just go away on a whim. The fact that infrastructure is so well developed here shows that this part of the world has a number of things to share in innovation however the internet is still a place where less than 2% of content is in Arabic, this should not be the case. We need more Arabic text, Arabic books and Arabic poetry on the internet."

The GII, which is released annually, generally reports the same top ten and top 25 countries which according to Lanvin makes them very hard for the UAE to get into. This year the top ten includes the UK at number two followed by Sweden, Finland, Netherlands, USA, Singapore, Denmark, Luxembourg and Hong Kong.

Other reasons for the UAE's global ranking were discussed on the panel which comprised of Osman Sultan, CEO, du; Rafael Reynoso, GII lead researcher, Cornell University; and Najeeb Al Ali, executive director, Emirates Competitiveness Council, were that the UAE is still a very young country compared with others in the report and it also has 70% less businesses per capita than Europe. 

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Lanvin also highlighted that education in the region needs to be dealt with as the criteria for education needs to changed to enhance innovation, that way the UAE can create employable and different skills as a way to address the market.

Following the UAE in the top ten in the MENA rankings are: Saudi Arabia at number two (38 in the world rankings), then Qatar (47), Bahrain 62), Jordan (64), Kuwait (69), Oman (75), Lebanon (77), Tunisia (78), Morocco (84), Egypt (99), Iran (120), Algeria (133) and Yemen (141).

His Excellency Mohammed Al Gergawi, Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs, said: "The UAE was founded on the principles of innovation, creativity and knowledge, as suitably demonstrated by the latest initiative, the launch of Emirates Space Agency recently by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, which is the first Arab and Islamic project to send a probe to Mars.

"The UAE leadership has from the beginning invested in nurturing human capital that is capable of achieving such ambitions. The UAE is also characterised by its high ability to build an environment that encourages creativity and innovation, and attracts talent. It also has plans to transform the government into a smart government, and to transform our cities into innovative, human-friendly smart cities.

"Additionally, we have huge projects to transform the education sector to a smart sector, based on creativity and innovation. The UAE encourages innovation in the fields of internet, media, renewable energy and industries, and our economy is one of the knowledge and innovation-based economies as classified by the World Economic Forum, while our technological infrastructure is among the best in the world. And above all, our leadership believes that innovation is the asset of the future."