Dubai, Asharq Al-Awsat—The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is seeking to launch a “revolution” in government services at the 2014 UAE Government Summit taking place this week in Dubai, where it will be announcing a number of new initiatives to improve and highlight government services.
Crown Prince of Dubai Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum launched the 2012 initiative on Monday, the first day of the summit. The initiative will see Dubai’s government working as a single entity to provide “five-star” services to citizens, competing with the standard of services provided by the private sector.
Sheikh Hamdan said via Twitter: “In the first initiative of its kind, the government aims to compete with the private sector in terms of the caliber of services it provides.”
He added: “There should be no more talk of multiple departments and agencies. The government works as one: one ID, one phone number, one center and one employee.”
UAE Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, lauded the leadership’s open-door policy at Tuesday’s main address at the Summit.
Sheikh Mansour used the speech as a platform to announce a new government initiative—a website where citizens can propose new ideas.
“Today, we are launching a new initiative to engage various segments of society,” he announced, calling on UAE Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to come to the stage to officially launch the initiative.
Sheikh Mansour said: “We want to benefit from other people’s experiences during the summit and we are seeking cooperation with public and private sectors. We want stronger development and better understanding among Arabs. We welcome Arabs to the summit to exchange experience and ideas.”
The summit, set to end on Wednesday, features 60 international speakers who are taking part in meetings and talks on ways to shape the future of the UAE’s government services.
“The summit has underlined its global credentials by hosting an elite line-up of international speakers, including high-level government officials and key decision-makers, who will lead an interactive discussion agenda to further enhance government services around the world,” said Mohammed Abdullah Al-Gergawi, UAE Minister of Cabinet Affairs and Head of the Summit’s organizing committee.
In comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, Gergawi said: “The overall impression of governments is that they are mired in bureaucracy and traditional modes of thinking. However, today, through the summit, we are working to build a new understanding of government. This is an understanding that demonstrates that governments can be creative and innovative in their operations, providing developed services that look to the future.”
“We are also trying to convert private sector experience into the public sector, as well as benefit from the experience of the international countries taking part in this summit,” he added.
Gergawi highlighted the comments made by Professor Klaus Schwab, president and founder of the World Economic Forum, who delivered the keynote speech at the summit on Monday.
Schwab affirmed that while technological advancement over the past two decades, particularly the internet and social media, had made the world an increasingly complex place, there was no substitute for talent.
“The next scarce resource is talent, not capital,” he said, and added: “Today, we are living in the Governance 2.0 world, characterized by new technologies that provide services and bring about an interactive relationship between the leadership and its citizens. The next stage of governance will be characterized by citizens who are the co-owners and shapers of the future.”
Gergawi told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Smart governance is one of the means to ensure the happiness of citizens, by providing easy-to-access services to the people. This is something that will ultimately save governments and people effort and money.”
He added: “A total of 50 countries are taking part in the summit, including some of the best minds in the world of creativity and innovation. This fusion between governments and innovators, with each listening to the other, will generate new ideas and innovations.”
Additional reporting by Abdullah Al-Rashid