UAE’s top priority is to direct its human energies towards a horizon of excellence, innovation and leadership: Al Mansouri

Abu Dhabi: The UAE’s top priority is to build national capacity and to direct its human energies towards a horizon of excellence, innovation and leadership, according to Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, UAE Minister of Economy. “The UAE leadership historically views human development as key. It is a crucial precursor to economic growth and development,” he said yesterday while addressing a ceremony to launch of the Centre for Economic Growth (CEG) in partnership with the INSEAD international business school in the presence of business leaders, senior officials and academic experts.

Al Mansouri also gave insights into the challenges the region faces in improving economic growth and creating job opportunities, while highlighting the experience and success of the UAE Economy and the key lessons for the wider region.

On the importance of SMEs, Al Mansouri added, “Taking the UAE as an example, small and medium-sized businesses represent 92 per cent of the trade sector and contribute 60 per cent to our country’s GDP. SMEs are also responsible for 86 per cent of private sector employment”.

There followed a high level panel on the topic of “Tackling Youth Unemployment through Enhanced Investment and Growth”, comprising CEOs of major regional companies in different sectors including retail, contracting, and private equity, as well as senior officials from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) of the World Bank Group, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

The Centre for Economic Growth (CEG), which will be at INSEAD’s Abu Dhabi campus, will address the need for timely and independent data, economic research and provide a new platform for private sector engagement on economic priority issues including youth unemployment, enabling job creation and enhancing sustainable economic growth.

The Centre for Economic Growth (CEG) is the first of its kind in the region as a collaboration between the region’s private sector and a business school to provide research and publications on the key economic issues for the region, including enhancing economic growth and job creation.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has estimated that many countries in the Middle East and North Africa region need to have economic growth of seven per cent a year just to keep unemployment from rising further, whereas average forecasted growth for the region in 2014 is only 3.2 per cent and for many countries even lower than that. In addition the major challenge of creating 50 million new jobs for young people across the region in the next decade, and 100 million over the next two decades, is well-known.

“This new centre will provide original research and data on the key economic issues of the region, and marks an important collaboration in line with INSEAD’s strategy and global perspective,” said Prof. Ilian Mihov, Dean of INSEAD. “The Abu Dhabi campus is our regional hub and this important new initiative will provide a platform to share ideas and best practice, while deepening our engagement with companies from the region.” “The economic challenges facing our region require the engagement of all sides to achieve success, including the private sector, governments and the academic world,” said Majid Jafar, CEO of Crescent Petroleum and Founding Chair of the CEG Business Council.

“The CEG will enhance cooperation and dialogue between all sectors while producing new research and publications relevant to the region and encouraging the positive contribution of the private sector to the discussion, in order to enhance the objectives of achieving higher investment and economic growth.” The Centre for Economic Growth (CEG) will develop new data resources and present recommendations based on careful analysis, with a view to enhancing decision-making and understanding of economic development in the region.

It will provide a forum for discussion and input from different stakeholders including the private sector, government and academia, and will allow for exchange of regional and global best practice and expertise. The centre will also form collaborations with other leading universities, international institutions and multinational corporations.