Connectivity affects the whole world: Al Mansoori

Sultan Al Mansoori (right) addressing the media in Dubai ahead of the Summit on Global Agenda

In an interconnected world, all countries are affected by the issues such as extremism, refugee crisis and political instability in some way or the other, says minister of economy of the UAE.

Speaking to the reporters at press conference ahead of the World Economic Forum’s Summit on Global Agenda in Dubai, His Excellency Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansoori says the world faces new challenges today in the form of renewed political volatility, new forms of extremism and refugee crisis as well as health concerns.

“There are yet other persisting challenges such as unemployment and food security as well as concerns about climate change and its impact. While some of these may seem to be issues of concern confined to certain regions and countries, the fact is that in an interconnected world we are all affected by them in some way or the other,” says Al Mansoori.

The UAE is hosting the premier event for the seventh consecutive year, and this underlines the UAE’s thought leadership in serving as a true global partner that promotes multilateral dialogue, says the minister.

The Summit on the Global Agenda has now become the definitive brainstorming event in the world that brings together some of the brightest minds who work towards addressing the global challenges we face today, he says.

“As the UAE brainstorms for a better world, sharing the success of the UAE in creating a growth environment will be invaluable in finding effective solutions to crisis situations and redefining the world’s development agenda,” says Al Mansoori, adding: “The UAE, under the leadership of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum has always placed emphasis on promoting the social and economic welfare of the people.”

The UAE never shied away from challenges, he says. “We have taken bold decisions in the past, and we will continue to pragmatic and forward-looking in our approach. The UAE’s primary emphasis, since the establishment of the country in 1971, has been to promote social development. This is reflected in the budget for 2014, in which nearly 50 per cent of the total expenditure is earmarked for social welfare.”

Speaking about the utilization of oil revenues, Al Mansoori says: “While we have invested our oil revenues for infrastructure growth, we believe in creating independent self-sustaining revenue streams. This is underlined by the successful diversification of our economy into tourism, hospitality, retail, trade, aviation, logistics and real estate, all of which contribute significantly to our GDP.

“Today 71 per cent of our GDP comes from the non-oil sector. Having achieved four per cent GDP growth in 2013, we are confident that our economic diversification strategy will continue drive further growth. Supported by our non-oil sector, we are aiming for 4-4.5 per cent growth in 2014.”

The UAE has been named the world’s largest donor of official development assistance in 2013, up from the 19th position in 2012, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

“Our efforts to alleviate the sufferings of refugees and displaced people are reflected in the recent agreements with the United Nations World Food Programme, whereby the UAE has offered AED 113.8 million in humanitarian assistance that will benefit about 880,000 people inside and outside Syria, says the minister, adding: “As part of our efforts to work towards the creation of a disease-free world, the UAE donated AED 18.3 million last month to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa.”

The UAE is now focusing on innovation to take it to the next phase of development. In fact, last month Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid launched a new strategy to make the country one of the world’s most innovative within seven years.

The strategy will focus on bringing innovation into seven sectors namely renewable energy, transport, education, health, technology, water and space.