IIFMENA 2018 Says Technology-based Development Approach is a ‘Must’

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  • Youth training in technology will bridge education outcomes and labour market needs


The third edition of ‘Investing in Future’ (IIFMENA) conference in Sharjah kicked off successfully on its second day (Thursday) with impactful comments from HE Omar Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence. The minister emphasised on the lack of adoption of technology and ‘technophobia’ in the region. He reiterated that people often suffer at least a small amount of nervousness when confronted with new technology and the lack of control with the advent of new technologies.

Presenting his ideas at a keynote address to open the day’s proceeds, he said: “This has led to 276 years of backwardness in this region as compared to the rest of the world”. His Excellency urged everyone to push these phobias aside and to embrace a ‘technology for future approach’.

He further said: “The UAE government has a clear vision in this direction and is constantly investing in areas that will make this country a better place for future generations. We all use artificial intelligence in our daily lives in the form of Google, WhatsApp, Facebook and in various other ways, and we need to explore this further to benefit our future. Youth are the pivots of development in the world and governments and organisations are investing in them constantly. Hence, it is the duty of every individual to leave this planet in a better shape for future generations.”

Taking the stage next, was HE Reem BinKaram, Director of Nama Women Advancement Establishment (NAMA), who focused on a need for greater youth integration in decision making areas. She further addressed the need to develop capabilities of the youth and invest in resources that would enhance their skills. She talked about the ‘Wathba’ programme, a subsidiary of the Rubu’ Qarn Foundation for Creating leaders and Innovators under the directives of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, to develop the skills of young people aged 6-31 years, and is part of the Sharjah’s and the UAE’s dedication to supporting youth and harnessing their capabilities.

Highlighting the importance of the programme, she said: “By offering young Emirati graduates the opportunity for internship and training at leading global organisations, Wathba aims to stimulate and forge partnerships with all sectors to support youth’s leadership skills and creative ideas that would be useful in the labour market. The importance of this programme is also exemplified by the fact that it will act as a bridge between education outcomes and labour market expectations.”

“We were keen to launch the programme at the IIFMENA conference as our contribution to presenting a humble yet efficient example of the solutions that can be recommended and developed to face the challenges addressed at this conference,” she added.

Her Excellency then highlighted how NAMA launched the ‘Girls Ambassadors for Peace’ programme in Bangladesh and Indonesia and trained a group of 62 girls in which disaster-response and management. When tsunami hit the Indonesian island in the same year, these girls boldly contributed to relief and rescue operation saving hundreds of lives. Her comments therefore highlighted the need for, “good training to address all challenges and find solutions in a real working environment”.

The final views of the session came from Omar Al Busaidy, Author, Entrepreneur and a member of the US and UAE Public Affairs who focused on the importance of “humans merging with machines”. He quoted Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba Group, who coined the term “Love Quotient” and urged everyone to teach their children to love people, the environment, their jobs and their surroundings”. Quoting Jack Ma, Busaidy thus reinforced the importance of Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and Emotional Quotient (EQ) along with AQ which stands for the “Agility Quotient”.

He said: “How agile are you, how flexible can you be, how quick can you be to adapt in an unprecedented space? This will determine complex problem-solving skills, able management, negotiations and decision-making powers in the long run.”

The session thus concluded with the thoughts that the youth needs to be geared towards training, embracing technology to generate opportunities, forging partnerships and finally integrating them in socioeconomic and developmental sectors to promote growth and stability in the region.

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