REGIONAL INNOVATION HUB

Abu Dhabi 2019 | ECONOMY | INSIDE PERSPECTIVE

Mohammed Ahmed Bin Abdulaziz Al-Shehhi, Undersecretary of Economic Affairs of the Ministry of Economy, on efforts to enhance the UAE's intellectual property framework, creating a knowledge-based economy, and fostering a culture of innovation.

Mohammed Ahmed Bin Abdulaziz Al-Shehhi
BIOGRAPHY
Mohammed Ahmed Bin Abdulaziz Al-Shehhi has been the Undersecretary for Economic Affairs at the Ministry of Economy of the UAE since October 2006. Al-Shehhi has provided strategic leadership to the Ministry of Economy in aligning policies and administration with global economic parameters and the visionary UAE 2021 vision. Over the last five years, he supervised the comprehensive program of the ministry to review and modernize the entire legal framework regarding economic activities in the UAE. He holds an Executive MBA from the American University of Sharjah and a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of South Florida, Tampa.

Intellectual property (IP) is being granted topmost priority by countries today, for its ability to accelerate economic growth and improve a country's social and cultural environment. It is concerned primarily with encouraging and preserving people's original thoughts and ideas, which form the cornerstone of progress and prosperity of a nation. The wise leadership of the UAE has stressed the importance of investing in its citizens, who are the real wealth of the country, and believes that unless people are accorded top priority, there cannot be resurgence and reawakening within a country.

Recognizing this need, the UAE is making every effort to enhance its IP framework and thereby becoming a global hub for innovation and creativity. It was one of the first countries to sign and join the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) convention and has been at the forefront of adopting policies and legislation supporting the protection of IP rights. In fact, the country has attained several milestones in the field of IP, such as a ratification of a new IP law based on international best practices, patent streamlining, copyright, and trademark processing procedures. It recently introduced a new patenting agency to fast track the patent registration process and provide focused support to Young Innovative and Industrial Companies (YIICs). Today, the country has a large network of R&D infrastructure consisting of 120 accredited universities and a strong legal framework governing IPRs. It adheres strictly to WIPO and other IP-related treaties and encourages the participation of youth and students at all levels and in all stages of education, so they can foster a culture of creativity and innovation, and also motivates teachers to play a greater role in generating greater awareness about IP and its ramifications.
UAE's Vision 2021, its roadmap for the future, aims to create a knowledge-based economy based on IP, to promote research and development and is proud to claim that it is well underway to becoming the innovation capital of the world. Today, the country is recognized worldwide for its creativity and openness, with an average growth rate of over 3% over the last three years and has the fifth-highest GDP per capita in the world. Moreover, the UAE is strategically located at the heart of the Asian, African, and European continents, with the world's most active international airport providing market access to more than 2 billion people within a four to five-hour flying time.

The UAE is also ranked 26th out of 190 countries in the 2017 Doing Business Report and 38th in the Global Innovation Index 2018. Significant efforts at economic diversification have reduced the proportion of GDP based on hydrocarbons to 25%, and the UAE accords top priority to entrepreneurship and SME development, for these sectors to play a vital role in fostering a culture of innovation. All these have contributed to the country's economic diversification and transformation into a highly productive, competitive knowledge economy.

One of the significant steps taken by the country is to develop a comprehensive IP infrastructure, by establishing the International Centre for Patent Registration, and today we are taking another stride in this direction, in line with the best international standards. The UAE is also keen to incorporate global best practices and harness the international expertise of our partners to nurture more creative ideas and motivate minds to become more involved in the various innovations and technological advancements to create outcomes that will contribute to economic prosperity and growth.
In addition to this, we are working on the formalities of hosting a representative foreign office of WIPO in the UAE to promote greater awareness about IP, shape our policies, enhance capacities, and highlight the UAE as a global hub for IP applications and practices. We are confident that such specialized centers act as a catalyst for fostering innovation and increased investor confidence in the environment, which in turn encourages value-added investments and consolidates the growth of key economic sectors.