The Chief Research Officer at SSRC at TII recently told a webinar hosted by a Brussels-based think tank that the UAE was beginning to attract technology companies in ways that are similar to what Silicon Valley did in the 1970s and 80s.
Dr. Shreekant (Ticky) Thakkar, who came to the UAE after working for Silicon Valley giants such as Intel, HP and Qualcomm, was participating in a discussion called, “Technology, Research Networks and Knowledge Transfer: Promoting Collaboration and Investment between the GCC and the EU”.
The event was hosted by Bussola Institute, an independent, not-for-profit, non-governmental organisation focused on building multicultural interconnections between Gulf countries and the European Union.
Dr. Ticky noted that the UAE has become a significant incubator of technology startups and is transforming itself into the innovation hub of the Middle East. He noted several signs of this: the country’s number one ranking among Arab countries and 36th place overall in the Global Innovation Index 2019, the UAE’s fifth rank globally in KPMG’s ‘Readiness for Change’ index, and its first place in the Arab world and 16th place overall in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking. He also mentioned that the country has fostered two unicorns (startups valued at more than $1 billion): Souq.com, which was bought by Amazon, and Careem, which was bought by Uber.
He also described how the UAE government is taking a number of steps to further drive momentum in the technology and innovation sector, including the just-announced creation of a new Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology, the appointment of a Head of Government Digital Services, and the expanded remit of the A.I. Minister to include the digital economy.
Dr. Ticky also referenced the recent establishment of the Advanced Technology Research Council, of which TII is a part. He emphasised that ATRC is establishing an R&D ecosystem in the country by directing and funding emerging fields of research and technology in multiple industries across the private sector, the public sector and academia.