UAE government can’t afford to relax

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The astonishing success of the last 10 years shouldn’t draw attention away from the need to keep improving

Gulf News
16:57 October 16, 2016

It is a hallmark of the UAE’s drive to progress, that it is never satisfied with what it has achieved. Many countries would be delighted with doubling the economy in 10 years (from a GDP of Dh663 billion to Dh1.36 trillion) or getting the non-petroleum sector up to 77 per cent of the economy from 66 per cent in only 10 years.

And these were only two indicators of many others that were reviewed by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, as he looked back at 10 years of government, marking the tenth anniversary of his taking office as Prime Minister.

But the most important part of the exceptional list of positive successes was that Shaikh Mohammad was not satisfied and wanted more. He was at pains to point out that all this work has only got the country to 62 per cent of where it should be by 2021 which leaves a lot of work yet to be done.

“We only have five years remaining, a very short period on the life of a nation,” he said.

The UAE government has been able to deliver so effectively because it works according to targets and the targets are monitored. Very few governments in the world work in such a precise manner, but the UAE’s highly technocratic approach to governance is succeeding because it allows the leadership to monitor and gauge what is happening in the workings of the government.

And to make it work better and faster, Shaikh Mohammad has just created the National Agenda Execution Teams which are made up of 550 government officials reporting to the Prime Minister, who will keep an eye on what has been achieved across the government in search of the national agenda targets, so as to find problems in good time and prompt the requisite action.

It is also important that Shaikh Mohammad spelt out the philosophy of governance that he would like the UAE to follow, when he said that “government work is an honourable duty, and our government will ceaselessly and tirelessly implement its objectives.”

He was making clear the country’s commitment to a very high level of public service combined with a determination to work hard. This kind of thinking is not only aspirational, but it is also an urgent requirement that the UAE is be able to advance in the way that it wants to.

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