Sunday 24, April 2016

Dubai – MENA Herald: Under the patronage of HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Airports; President of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority; Chairman and CEO of Emirates Group, the Department of Economic Development (DED), Government of Dubai, has launched a new initiative – the Business Community Engagement (BCE) to deepen and strengthen DED’s relationship with the business community. The initiative follows a detailed study involving comprehensive surveys of business groups and business councils in Dubai, an analysis of the current landscape; gaps and opportunities of DED-Private Sector relationships. 150 Business Groups, Trade Associations and Business Councils were covered, and more than 95 of them provided inputs to the study over seven months.

His Excellency Sami Al Qamzi, Director General of DED, said: “The DED has always engaged the business community, but now with the Business Community Engagement initiative we have a strategy and a plan to systematically collaborate with the private sector, through the Representative Entities (Res). The REs play a critical role in economic development not only by being a voice of the industry and business sector they represent, but more importantly, they provide ideas and suggestions to the government for a better future.”

Al Qamzi called upon more Dubai-based enterprises to join their respective business groups or industry associations and urge business groups to formalise and upgrade their capacity to serve their members.

Mohammed Shael, CEO, Business Development and Strategy Sector, DED said: “Our BCE initiative aims to tap transformational ideas from the private sector and co-develop them into workable initiatives. There is tremendous scope for path-breaking synergies and potential in further collaboration between DED and business groups. Evidence shows that only through continuous conversations and collaborations with the Representative Entities can we have more effective solutions and initiatives to advance economic growth.”

The BCE initiative fits into DED’s task of developing economic policies and plans to support growth of strategic sectors as the custodian of Dubai’s economic development mandate. The primary goal is to add and create new value in Dubai’s economy by bringing the public and private sectors closer to work together in co-investing and co-developing the Dubai economy in a sustainable way. The initiative reflects the growing realisation that the government, private sector, or any single stakeholder in the economic ecosystem cannot act in isolation when new and unstoppable megatrends continue to impact global economies and societies today.

Under the initiative the DED will over the next three years, launch platforms to seek feedback and ideas from the business community on the current and future economic policy/initiatives, share information on trends and opportunities and collaborate with key private stakeholders in areas of mutual interest to add/create value for the economy. Over 30 quick-tasks and nine sustainable community initiatives have also been identified to touch the focal points of the initiative.

The DED outreach has been welcomed by business councils in Dubai, many of whom have expressed their desire to learn global best practices and sought support by way of advisory and mentoring in formulating strategies for industry growth.

Shahzad Haider, Chairman, Fragrance Foundation Arabia said: “Fragrance Foundation Arabia applauds the Business Community Engagement initiative by DED as a remarkable step towards strengthening economic progress across all industries in the UAE. The fragrance sector is a key contributor towards imports, exports and retail sectors, as well as a vital aspect of retail tourism. The recent support for the fragrance sector from DED also demonstrates a strong commitment towards long term co-operation that will result in the sector contributing more effectively to our national economy.”

Leo Fewtrell, General Manager, Dubai Tourism and Travel Agents Group (DTTAG) commented: “I am delighted with the involvement of DED in the Business Community Engagement initiative. DED’s support helps DTTAG with obtaining access to senior personnel in bodies such as Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) and Dubai Civil Aviation Authority on a regular basis. The DED has been proactive and we now have aspirations of achieving some of our aims within the travel trade.”

Business sector representatives have also suggested measures to strengthen the BCE, including establishing a platform to communicate issues and concerns more directly and regularly with the regulator. Many expressed willingness to collaborate with the DED and arrange industry round table discussions to address specific industry issues and future development.


The specific objectives of DED’s Business Community Engagement initiative are:
To enable the Government to make informed decisions on existing as well as new policies by actively involving stakeholders who are most likely to be impacted.
To enable the Government to prioritise economic agendas/issues with the stakeholders and seek their feedback on formulating and implementing initiatives. Such economic agendas are derived from the overall Government Vision/Strategy/Economic Roadmap. The outcomes include Co-development, Co-creation and Co-operation to develop general agreement over the elements of the strategic plan, for example, a roundtable discussion with industry leaders on productivity, initiatives to enhance Dubai’s role as a hub of the Global Islamic Economy.
To enable the Government to establish connections and engage with the key stakeholders in the economy. It also includes developing trust and confidence of the stakeholders, for example, breakfast meetings with the CEOs to gauge their opinion on doing business. The DED is perceived as an important confidence-builder for businesses and investors in the economy.
To provide stakeholders with balanced and objective information on change in policies/regulations, updates on developments, business outlook and expectations and other information as requested/required by the business community.

Reaching Out
To enable proper analysis of the developing of the initiative, the DED reached out to more than 150 Representative Entities (REs), including Business Councils, Business Groups, Associations, and Societies in the economic/business domain. More than 80 REs were found to be active and provided valuable feedback. The methodology included a detailed landscape assessment, stakeholder discussions with over 80 REs and some key government entities, benchmarking across three countries (Singapore, UK and New Zealand), review of the Dubai Plan 2021 objectives as well as analysis of the DED mandate and objectives. A survey of 500 respondents was launched to understand participation interest and activities of businesses, mainly SMEs among REs.

Key Findings
BCE examples globally range from simple ‘Inform’ to complex ‘Empower’ mechanisms wherein the government allows the private-sector to actively decide on its behalf on various economic development issues.
A key enabler for BCE is the presence of Representative Entities (REs) such as Business Groups, Associations, Councils and Committees that represent the voice and lobby for the needs of the respective interest groups. They are a vital link in enabling a two-way communication between the government and the economy.
There are about 150 REs in the UAE (primarily concentrated in Dubai). Of these 34% represent Country Councils in line with the trading nature of the economy.
Majority of the REs are industry-need driven and gather to network and conduct events internally. Only a handful REs (which are chaired by influential business leaders) have highlighted extensive discussions and participation with various Government entities.
REs have highlighted the need for deeper DED engagement through a dedicated touch-point for frequent discussions, consultation and feedback.
The Dubai Plan 2021 emphasises the need for a ‘collaborative’ and ‘inclusive participation’ approach to ensure all the objectives are met. Emphasising on Dubai’s 2021 strategic vision, government entities in Dubai have launched various initiatives to enable dialogue with the private sector.

Key initiatives
DED has developed a detailed BCE roadmap for the next 2 years outlining the key BCE activities and the active role of DED as a business enabler.
DED has identified over 30 quick-tasks and nine sustainable community engagement initiatives.
The 30 quick tasks are based on developing regularly updated reports and information guides. Additionally, DED has also identified means of digital engagement of the DED with the private sector in-line with the Dubai Smart City initiative.

The nine key initiatives are based on the following guidelines:
Encourage meaningful Participation of all business groups and councils (inclusiveness)
Establish a platform for exchange of ideas, information, feedback and concerns (communication strategies and initiatives)
Strengthen strategic partnerships between the public and private sector stakeholders
Proactive in mutual knowledge sharing (sharing new trends, new initiatives, etc. with each other)
Enable access & generate awareness of new policies and initiatives by the government