2018: Cooperation with Harvard University in preparing the Arab vision for the digital economy

Date: 02 - 04 - 2019

Following up on the issuance by the Council of Arab Economic Unity and the League of Arab States of the first draft of the joint Arab strategic vision for the digital economy, a delegation headed by His Excellency Dr. Ali Muhammad Al-Khoury, Advisor to the Council, visited Harvard University in the United States to complete the second phase of developing the Arab strategic vision for the digital economy, which includes analyzing and identifying Arab technological skills and enhancing the capabilities of Arab governments and their preparations for digitization operations. An agreement was reached at the university’s headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts, during which the delegation reviewed the experiences of professors and experts at Harvard University in the areas of digital transformation, smart city services, and digital government services.

The agreement aims to complete the review of the joint Arab strategic vision for the digital economy, with a special focus on the expected effects of the strategic vision’s programs and projects on critical regional needs, the well-being of citizens of Arab countries, regulatory frameworks for digital transformation and the governance of national digital strategies, as well as reviewing the capabilities and skills of the workforce for a sample of countries. Members of the League of Arab States, and to make recommendations related to public policy and personnel matters to enhance the readiness and capabilities of Arab governments to implement strategic vision programs

Harvard also presented, during the meeting, the program for preparing executive leaders in the areas of digital transformation, which it offers to ensure the sustainability of successful change by qualifying and empowering cadres and building leadership and administrative competencies. The program includes providing leaders with the resources, tools, expertise, and competencies necessary to identify and manage risks, opportunities, and the impact of digital technologies on the public interest

Professor David Ives, lecturer in public policy and director of digital management at the Kennedy School at Harvard University, thanked His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Commander of the Armed Forces, for his sponsorship and support for the joint Arab strategic vision for the digital economy, which Harvard participated in preparing its first draft And reviewing it, expressing his appreciation for His Highness’ efforts in working on the renaissance of the Arab region as a whole and enabling it to keep pace with the era of the digital revolution, and he said: “We are happy today to be part of the development of the Arab digital economy and the strategic vision that emerged from practical programs and projects that serve all segments of Arab societies, and are compatible with With our goals aimed at spreading and adopting digital technologies, digital business governance, enhancing trust in them, and encouraging equal economic opportunities.”

Dr. confirmed. Al-Khoury, in turn, emphasized the importance of the second phase with Harvard University, by saying: “The technological and information revolution imposes a new reality on human societies, then the optimal employment and the ability to deal with it will determine the features of the social system and the economic capabilities of countries. As ICT skills have become a prerequisite for all types of employment, building ICT capabilities must be a priority within employment, entrepreneurship and digital innovation strategies. It is not about the need of most jobs and companies for ICT skills, but rather the extent to which they are used in developing ways and methods of work, creating new job opportunities and making labor markets more innovative, in order to serve the global sustainable development goals related to decent work and economic growth.”

He continued, “In order to achieve the strategic vision, educational systems, for example, must form and prepare these skills in the early stages. The pace of change is rapid and the types of skills required change rapidly as well. Hence, everyone needs to hone their skills frequently to keep up with these changes.”

The League of Arab States and the Council of Arab Economic Unity are working to create practical and scientific-based mechanisms that the member states of the League of Arab States can use to assess the digital capabilities of their workforce. The partnership with Harvard will also provide strategies for how to target investment in education and skills building and help apply frameworks and tools to correct the lack of research on digital development in Arab markets.