Commentary

STEM: The Next Generation

STEM: The Next Generation

In 2015, the UAE announced its Mars Probe mission, which will send the Arab world’s first spacecraft to the red planet in a scientific exploration mission that will land in 2021. In 2017, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan unveiled the “Mars 2117 Project” which aims at its final stage to establish the first inhabitable human settlement in Mars by 2117…

STEM: The Next Generation

(This post is part of a wider Horizon Scanning piece. To get full access, please register here or call +971 4 425 7967.)

In 2015, the UAE announced its Mars Probe mission, which will send the Arab world’s first spacecraft to the red planet in a scientific exploration mission that will land in 2021. In 2017, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan unveiled the “Mars 2117 Project” which aims at its final stage to establish the first inhabitable human settlement in Mars by 2117. This ambitious project was launched on the sideline of the 5th World Government Summit, and set to be developed and executed in partnership with major international scientific research institutions.

“The Mars 2117 Project is a long-term project, where our first objective is to develop our educational system so our sons will be able to lead scientific research across the various sectors,” Sheikh Mohamed said. “The objective of the research is to contribute in facilitating people lives on earth as well, mainly in the domains of transportation, energy and food”. In the same month, and on March 11th, during the inaugural Mohammed bin Zayed Majlis for Future Generations, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed told a group of over 3,000 UAE youth that the future relies on their skills. “The future of the UAE will not come through oil”.

The forum started when Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, stood up to warn that the era of comfortable” government jobs was coming to an end. “You are no longer competing amongst yourselves, but with the greatest minds around the world,” he told the audience.

The message is clear. Emiratis are encouraged to move away from government jobs, and – more importantly- move away from business and finance courses in their studies (seen as preparation for a government job). They are encouraged to pursue science, technology and mathematics. Sheikh Mohammed particularly singled out engineering: “We cannot have enough of it,” he said.

The UAE leadership is so concerned about educating the new generation, and willing to pour vast quantities of resources into education. It stems from a belief that a diverse, globally focused knowledge economy is the best security, even in a turbulent region.

This trend and future STEM focus is not unique to the UAE, it is a global trend.

A recent FT [Financial Times] article by Rana Forhoor noted that for future jobs, whatever they study, students must graduate with basic science, technology, engineering and maths skills.

The UAE’s space programme aims to inspire innovation and spur further diversification of the country’s economy. The mission to Mars hopes to promote a focus on STEM education and attract more nationals to specialise in these fields.

It aims to inspire thousands of Emiratis to pursue careers in the space industry and related STEM fields. Robert Zubrin, the president of the Mars Society, said the government was encouraging Emiratis to “become a pioneer and an explorer of new worlds. The 40-year-old men and women who built the computer industry in the US in the 1990s were the little 10 & 12-year-old boys in the 1960s who were inspired to enter science by our Apollo programme.”

This is an excerpt from a Horizon Scanning entry titled “Mission to Mars is More About Stem Education Than A Star Trek”. To get full access, please register here or call +971 4 425 7967.

It’s skills, not jobs

It’s skills, not jobs

The challenge in the GCC regarding nationals’ employment has never been an issue of availability of jobs. In fact, in most countries there are more jobs than national job seekers (by far). However, when it comes to employment, the large majority of GCC nationals work in the public sector. Put simply, they prefer public sector jobs usually because of higher pay, less working hours, and much higher job security…

It’s skills, not jobs

(This post is part of a wider Horizon Scanning piece. To get full access, please register here or call +971 4 425 7967.)

The challenge in the GCC regarding nationals’ employment has never been an issue of availability of jobs. In fact, in most countries there are more jobs than national job seekers (by far). However, when it comes to employment, the large majority of GCC nationals work in the public sector. Put simply, they prefer public sector jobs usually because of higher pay, less working hours, and much higher job security.

Although jobs are opening in the private sector, the majority of competitive private sector positions are going to expatriates. The figure below shows how challenging this issue is. Not only are jobs available, more will be created in the coming decade. In the past few decades, GCC countries have looked to diversify their economies, relying less on oil and growing other industries. These policies so far have been marginally successful. Albeit starting from a low base, the growth of non-hydrocarbon sectors has matched those of other oil exporting countries with advanced economies2. The sectors that contributed the most were manufacturing, construction, transportation, and the financial sector.

In this context, the GCC Governments have released various national strategies; UAE 2021, Qatar 2030, Saudi 2030, and so on. Aggregating these strategies, we have narrowed down a list of sectors that contain the biggest potential for future growth in the GCC. First, because of the commitment from the governments to leverage these sectors moving forward and secondly, because of historical government capital expenditure evidence:

  • Energy and Petrochemicals
  • Manufacturing
  • Financial Services
  • Travel, Tourism, and Hospitality
  • Trade and Logistics
  • Technology, Media and Communications (TMC)

As the GCC economies grow, more jobs will be opening up across these six sectors and high skilled work will be increasingly in demand. A McKinsey 2012 report estimates individuals with skills in engineering, research and development, product design and marketing will be the most in-demand in industry sectors like manufacturing, energy, and TMC.

This is an excerpt from a Horizon Scanning entry titled “The Problem Is Skills, Not Jobs: Nationalization in the GCC”. To get full access, please register here or call +971 4 425 7967.

The GCC in 2017

The GCC in 2017

Since the Arab uprisings began in 2010, all six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states have been preoccupied with internal economic and social issues and reform. They have also been more visibly engage in projecting power beyond their borders. However, when Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and to a lesser extent Oman projected power abroad, they are driven by their own domestic challenges rather than by a Gulf consensus. Consequently, GCC countries have adopted contradictory projects in most Arab countries such as…

The GCC in 2017

Since the Arab uprisings began in 2010, all six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states have been preoccupied with internal economic and social issues and reform. They have also been more visibly engage in projecting power beyond their borders. However, when Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and to a lesser extent Oman projected power abroad, they are driven by their own domestic challenges rather than by a Gulf consensus. Consequently, GCC countries have adopted contradictory projects in most Arab countries such as…

2016’s Most Defining Moments for Inclusive Growth

2016’s Most Defining Moments for Inclusive Growth

The Center’s senior fellows reflect on the events of 2016 that will leave an enduring mark on inclusion and economic growth. The US Election, Brexit and the populist wave 2016, like no other year in recent memory, brought to the surface the reality that far too many people are being left behind in the global economy. The U.S. presidential election, the Brexit vote, and the shifting winds on trade…

By 2030, what will regional governance look like?

By 2030, what will regional governance look like?

Throughout history, regional governance was based on nation states working together for their mutual security and prosperity. But the world is changing fast. Dr Yasar Jarrar, Visiting Fellow, Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, United Arab Emirates, and senior partner, THC (Dubai) and a member of the Global Future Council on Regional Governance….

The Middle East feels Trumped

The Middle East feels Trumped

With many of its media, analysts and public figures predicting and endorsing a US presidential victory for Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton, the win by Republican candidate Donald Trump shocked Arab countries.

Brexit and GCC: Opportunities ahead

Brexit and GCC: Opportunities ahead

When the UK announced its intention to leave the EU, many questions were raised in the region about the potential impact this will have – especially in light of the strong, and historic, relations between the GCC and UK. More specifically, GCC governments, businesses, and investors outlined three major concerns