THE WAY FORWARD

UAE, Dubai 2012 | ECONOMY | FOCUS: STRATEGIC PLAN

Dubai's Strategic Plan, currently being revised to reflect global economic conditions, lays out a program of action to help the Emirate maintain its role as a global business hub.

Released in 2007, the Dubai Strategic Plan 2015 sets out both a vision and a program of action to enable the Emirate to proactively guide its development through to 2015. The document lays out plans not only for the future of economic development, but also environment and infrastructure, social development, security and justice, and government excellence in Dubai. The main focuses of the plan are to make Dubai an even more attractive place to live, work, and do business and to proactively address any issues that could hinder economic development in the future.

Despite the onset of the global financial crisis, Dubai has made remarkable strides in working toward many of the goals laid out in the Strategic Plan, such as infrastructure upgrades and reforms to the health and education systems. However, the global crisis has affected Dubai's plans for economic development, which is why the government has now begun the process of revising the Strategic Plan to reflect the Emirate's new strategy in the current economic conditions. The new plans, to be released in late 2012, will formalize Dubai's return to its traditional growth sectors, and the Emirate's focus on promoting long-term, sustainable, and business-oriented growth for the future. The plans have been developed through collaboration and consultation with Dubai's business community and with the assistance of a number of international organizations.

Although many elements of Dubai's Strategic Plan will remain the same, the economic development strategy is undergoing a review through 2012, and a new plan will be released toward the end of the year. Dubai's revised plans for its economic development strategy are expected to elaborate on the Emirate's refocus on its traditional growth sectors: tourism and retail, transport and logistics, manufacturing, and finance. The plans will likely focus on upgrading the regulatory and financial environment for these and other industries to ensure Dubai's long-term competitiveness.

In parallel with rapid economic growth over the past half-century, Dubai's social development continues to improve the quality of life of its residents. Economic growth has been accompanied by demographic growth and expansion that has had an effect on the social development of the Emirate. The goal of Dubai's Strategic Plan for social development is to ensure that the economic growth the Emirate has seen translates into improved living conditions for its nationals and foreign residents. First and foremost, this has meant ensuring the quality and availability of health care, social services, and education for all, but also working to ensure that Dubai nationals can preserve their culture and participate in the economy at the same time.

Dubai's growth in recent decades has helped to position it as an important regional hub for business, tourism, and trade—all industries that have been heavily reliant on the development of state-of-the-art infrastructure and the geostrategic location of the Emirate. As growth continues, Dubai must ensure the effective use of its land and resources through urban and environmental planning and continued investment in transport and utilities infrastructure. Dubai's investments in the Metro project and road network are two examples of this policy in action.

By keeping its streets safe, Dubai has become one of the most secure places in the world, which is a remarkable achievement given the rapid economic growth it has seen in the past few decades. As the city continues to grow, one of Dubai's main priorities is to ensure both human rights and public safety. Dubai's strategy for security, justice, and safety focuses on improving the efficiency, transparency, and fairness of the justice system (both criminal and commercial) and updating contingency plans and regulations for disaster readiness and management.

The government's role in this vision is crucial—one important element of the international competitiveness of business centers around the globe is the efficiency, excellence, and accountability of the authorities. In recent years, Dubai has made great strides in enhancing the performance of its public sector through modernizing initiatives, such as e-government and performance management systems. In order to maintain its international competitiveness, Dubai must work to continue modernizing the government and meet the challenges of the 21st century. As part of the Dubai Strategic Plan 2015, the government excellence strategy focuses on enhancing responsiveness and accountability, improving the efficiency of government organizational structures, and creating institutional structures to incentivize public sector performance.