DATA RICH

Abu Dhabi 2016 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to HE Butti Ahmed Mohamad Bin Butti Qubaisi, Director General of the Statistics Center-Abu Dhabi (SCAD), on measuring inflation, population growth, and reaching out to international investors.

 HE Butti Ahmed Mohamad Bin Butti Qubaisi
BIOGRAPHY
HE Butti Ahmed Mohamed Bin Butti Al Qubais is the Director General of the Statistics Centre - Abu Dhabi (SCAD). He is also a member of Abu Dhabi National Advisory Council, member of the Board of the National Statistics Center, member of the Sub-Committee on Population Structure, member of the board of Abu Dhabi Center for Corporate Governance, member of Abu Dhabi Food Security Committee. He holds a master’s degree in Business Administration from Geneva, and a backerlor’s degree in Public Administration from the UAE University.

What are the improvements on the quality of data and assurance of data by SCAD and how has that been compiled YoY?

Following the announcement of the Abu Dhabi Plan, the Statistics Center will be one of the major overseeing bodies. For the whole Abu Dhabi government we will implement a system for statistics that was missing before. We have visited many countries and we have a plan for what we will do here. Finland has one of the best offices of statistics for administrative data and it is focusing closely on it. This is the future of statistics, to provide stronger data for government offices and not only statistical output for themselves. This is the focus for the next five years

How are you measuring inflation and its impact on the economy?

The measurement was based on a 2007 average shopping basket. Now we have changed the basket to the average cost of a shopping basket in 2014, based on around 1,400 items from the large income expenditure survey we conducted in 2013. The first basket for 2007 included around 700 items and each item has a weight on the calculation, so when we calculate this weight it is lower than before because it is compared to 2007. This is improving accuracy and developing the data

How do you feel that population growth and the unemployment gap can be developed?

We are highlighting red flags to the government so that it can make decisions or request more data, and this is precisely why we go to the field and perform surveys. We give this data to the government and the Department of Economic Development (DED) investigates further in order to provide recommendations. The DED and the executive council perform this further investigation, but our role is to make the survey and provide that data. Our role is not to provide the solution, but present the data. Our data gives a picture of what is happening but it is not our role to make recommendations.

How has SCAD aligned itself with the federal vision of digitizing services?

SCAD's web portal (Smart SCAD) provides a range of statistical apps that can be downloaded by any member of the public from the website. The portal also serves the population with live data from our database, presenting information through advanced interactive tools, such as infographics and data visualizations. These tools enable users create maps, customized tables and charts that are easy to use and interpret, requiring no analytical skills, thereby increasing accessibility, interactivity and customization of data for users. It is important for decision makers to have a dashboard and be able to read live data. The latest initiative is Sallatna, which is an app that gives each person the ability to see what is happening in the market. It enables individuals to compare prices of products in the market. The data can be found via a barcode and it will be easy for any customer to gauge value through price comparison.

How are you trying to reach international investors who are interested in engaging with the Abu Dhabi market?

Some send us letters and require more details about Abu Dhabi and it is our job to give them the right picture. We need to give them the right facts so that they know if it is the right place to invest or not, and that must be their decision. It is our role to give them an accurate picture. We have many requests for data and we will always provide that data within 24 hours as per the response time KPIs in our CRM. We also have a foreign investment survey to gauge what investments are coming into the country or leaving, which is made on an annual basis here at SCAD.