The United Arab Emirates: an enabling environment for entrepreneurship and talent attraction

ABU DHABI: In one of the fastest growing economies in the region, what is more important than human capital? The third edition of Abu Dhabi talks under the theme “UAE: towards a hub of talents” tackled this question at Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi.

The event saw the participation of many guests strengthening the relationship between France and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), around a common theme of Franco-Emirati cooperation and the role of the UAE as an attractive platform for the talent.

“The objective is to enable sustainable growth for the benefit of all and to increase the potential for long-term growth,” says Jean-Baptiste Chauvel, regional economic adviser for the Arabian Peninsula at the French Embassy in Abu Dhabi. .

This event is an opportunity to bring together many talents. “In France, we don’t have oil, but we have ideas… In the UAE, we have both,” says Martin Tronquit, vice-treasurer of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI) France UAE, in opening the ceremony. It also highlights the importance of the knowledge economy and its contribution towards scientific progress, as well as the role of the UAE government in establishing best practices in terms of local and foreign policies favorable to the attraction of talents.

The UAE is home to more than six hundred French companies and the largest French community in the Middle East (thirty thousand people). The country ranks 4e rank in terms of talent attraction according to a recent report by theEuropean Institute of Business Administration (Insead), says Geoffroy Bunetel, president of CCI France UAE.

This is an event placed under the patronage of Dr Thani al-Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, who declared, while the WATER continue to diversify their technology and financial landscape, that “France remains an important partner, being the third largest trading partner of the UAE”.

The UAE is continuously working on its economic program, in preparation for the next fifty years, building its digital infrastructure, with a “thousand of digital businesses expected in the next five years, in robotics, artificial intelligence (AI) and AgriTech,” he adds.

France and the UAE benefit from synergies through a strategic dialogue marked by the visit of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed to France in July 2022, strengthening existing ties, but also strategic investments as well as the creation of an ecosystem conducive to the establishment of French companies and enabling incubators and SMEs to prosper and attract the best talent.

Jean-Yves Le Drian, former French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, joined the discussion, discussing the evolution of bilateral relations, particularly over the past ten years. “It is first of all a security relationship, initiated by former President Sarkozy, committing France vis-à-vis the UAE and the establishment of French companies”, he declares, in addition to “the need to preserve the security of the Gulf”.

Mr. Le Drian also stressed the importance of commercial and cultural relations between the two countries. Relations marked by the fifth anniversary of the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

For Zaki Nusseibeh, cultural adviser to the president of WATER, there are two measures of social progress; growth and human development. “Today, two-thirds of government positions are held by women in the UAE.” He adds that empowering women, investing in future generations, healthcare, education and creating a cohesive society are among the pillars of the country’s centenary.

Higher education and the digitization of learning. (Photo, Zeina Zbibo)

Another major subject discussed is higher education and the digitization of learning.

For Professor Silvia Serrano, Vice-Chancellor of Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi, online courses can be an alternative in specific situations, but the lesson learned following the Covid-19 pandemic is that the online learning cannot replace on-site teaching and classes.

Educational institutions must embrace technological change, but their role in an increasingly digitized world is “to teach what the machine can never teach; ethics, privacy, regulation of new technologies,” she explains.

Elias Kassis (President of TotalEnergies UAE) and Ismaïl Abdallah (CEO of Strata) shared industry applications facilitating the transition to a knowledge economy, providing training programs and empowering long-term talent instead to focus only on the short-term impact.

The creation of an innovation ecosystem is essential in this transition: an environment conducive to entrepreneurship and the attraction of talent.

The creation of an innovation ecosystem for an environment conducive to attracting talent. (Photo, Zeina Zbibo)

Access to finance and market support are among the existing challenges facing talent attraction. However, the UAE government provides the necessary infrastructure to facilitate this attraction and the establishment of talent in the country.

On the other hand, finding more sustainable solutions means building human capital “through local education (in schools and universities), to stimulate entrepreneurship from a young age, while by continuing to attract talent,” says Mona AlHashmi (Social Entrepreneurship Ma’an Abu Dhabi).

The transformation of the UAE into a post-oil economy based on human capital requires the engagement of companies from all sectors in the process of hiring and promoting talent.

Among these programs, Chalhoub Group initiated a youth program in the region and signed a memorandum of understanding with Dar al-Hekma University in Saudi Arabia.

“Boosting the professional development of talent and focusing on youth empowerment in line with the UAE vision and Saudi Arabia vision 2030 is key when sourcing talent,” says Florence Bulté (Sustainable Development Manager at Chalhoub Group).

The Abu Dhabi Talks were organized by the CCI France UAEin partnership with the French Embassy in the UAE, the Sorbonne Abu Dhabi University and the Entretiens de Royaumont.

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The United Arab Emirates: an enabling environment for entrepreneurship and talent attraction

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