Innovation critical to Dubai’s success

A lot has been said and seen about Dubai having built something out of what was considered nothing.

A long time ago, its founders started a tradition of welcoming people with diligence, ideas and perseverance to come here and prosper, which has continued in its various reincarnations. In recent years, its speed of growth and buildings evoked the envy of many a competitor and as the boom slowed down, the hankering began. While there are some areas where more prudence would have been desired, a lot of pioneering work often gets criticized. It does not require a rocket scientist to understand that time has come to reinvent and rebuild on the strengths, which are many, and build on its long tradition of entrepreneurial innovation.

Like our founding fathers, it’s time to welcome the creators. Creators are those who look beyond the ordinary and build things that leapfrog them and those around them into prosperity. Be it artists, designers, programmers, thought leaders or free thinkers – we need more of these to come and make Dubai the beacon of creativity and creation in the region. Remember a majority of jobs and opportunities are created by small businesses, those with less than 20 people. Reduction of licence fees, visa costs, rentals and front loading of the setting up process will make Dubai attractive for a lot of such people.

A case has often been made for the economic downturn having made Dubai an unattractive market. But then Dubai was never a local story – it was the best gateway to the whole region. The strength of its infrastructure, geographic location and connectivity are beyond compare, despite the financial downturn and impossible to match by any other city, by far.

Building on strength
Let’s build on this strength to remove all hurdles to its success. Let the government consider removing all barriers to setting up new ventures, and actually encourage small companies. In the past large corporations have had an advantage of being able to negotiate better terms due to their clout, Let’s turn it in favour of innovation and enterprise. Remove the link between license and real estate and the overemphasis on transaction-based clusters.
The downturn has made business in these clusters unviable and counter-intuitive to enhancement of small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Encourage the filling up of empty real estate by people who will actively commit to create, bring innovation to the fore and create jobs and support the economy.

Let their success be counted by the number of real partnerships and enterprises they generate with the national youth. Dubai was built by people who thought outside the box – encourage this pioneering spirit by reiterating the need for such initiatives. New leaders of the national workforce need to be guided, but at the same time encourage them to think anew and not to fear failure, nor be afraid to air their ideas.

What we need is a change in sentiment to one that is encouraging, inspiring and full of positive ideas for a future that beckons. Undue emphasis has been given by some quarters on the odd headline emphasising the eternal tussle of tradition and the drive to being a modern metropolis. With growth and modernization comes a lot of responsibility and balancing the yin and the yang is a delicate are. But, in the drive to excellence we need to focus on the larger goal and probably be prepared to such instances being blown out of proportion.

What will speak louder than anything is our success to build on our strengths to achieve the pinnacle in our carefully chosen areas of excellence. The new generation is not afraid of hard work, in fact, it revels in challenging times. It’s time to channel their drive and power through the guidance of the more experienced into making Dubai cement its position as an unparalleled hub of innovation, entrepreneurship and creativity.

This article originally appeared on Gulf News.