Digital economy set to gain momentum – Khaleej Times

Latest initiative to coders will pave the way for double-digit contribution of digital economy to the GDP by 2025

The UAE’s latest initiative to attract and retain the best coding talents in the region will generate new jobs for skilled workforce and double digital economy contribution to the country’s gross domestic product in next five years, experts say.

Analysts, top executives and corporate leaders said National Programme for Coders with global technology giants is going to reshape traditional sectors such as telecoms, entertainment, media, banking, retail and healthcare that will pave the way for double-digit contribution of digital economy to the GDP.

Referring to a report by Arthur D Little, they said the digital economy in the UAE accounted for about 4.4 per cent of GDP in 2019 and this contribution is likely to be more than double with the business-friendly policies adopted by the government.

Brendan Vyner, director for marketing and student recruitment at University of Wollongong in Dubai, said the latest initiative for coders will positively boost the private and public sectors in the field of e-commerce, cyber security, IT infrastructure, digital payments, entertainments as well as the digital transformation of the government systems.

“Individual who are currently coders and programmers or those with an interest in the field need to be supported and equipped with the right skills set through courses and programmes in the fields of cybersecurity, big data and analytics, videogame and mobile app development to ensure they are ready for these jobs in the next few years,” Vyner told Khaleej Times.

Referring to the World Economic report, he said 50 per cent of all employees will need reskilling by 2025.

“Analytical thinking, active learning, complex problem-solving and critical thinking, all of which are immensely used in the fields such as computer science and coding, are predicted top skills in 2025. Learning to code gives students the tools to become producers and not just consumers of technology, giving them a distinctive edge in the job market,” Vyner said.

Demand for coders

Experts said global demand for coders will increase from 23 million in 2018 to 28 million by 2023 and employers are keen to hire people who can programme, write or manage Oracle, Javascript, C++ and Apache Hadoop.

“Some traditional jobs will be lost to technological advances, but thousands of new jobs will be created in the industry in coming years,” said Shailash Dash, a Dubai-based financier and entrepreneur.

He said the latest initiative for coders seeks to accelerate the adoption of digital applications and tools to boost economic sectors. Moreover, it aims to support the broader national initiatives in attracting global digital skills, and building the necessary infrastructure to establish broader innovation-based companies.

“Given the rapidly changing economic landscape post Covid, such initiatives will allow the country to remain competitive and attract global talent and companies to boost economic growth in the coming years,” Dash told Khaleej Times.

To a question how 100,000 coders will help the world’s digital sectors, he said the world is increasingly moving towards rapid digitisation, especially after the onset of the pandemic, which led to a large part of companies to work remotely.

“With UAE standing at the forefront of a digital transformation in the GCC, an initiative to attract the global talent of coders will only push its growth on a global scale further,” he said.

Focus shifts to digital economy

Baber Shaikh, Careem Vice-President of Engineering, said the initiative for coders will help increase the talent pool’s supply and diversity.

“By aligning this initiative with the Golden Visa scheme, our highly qualified talent will provide economic and social stability. Currently, lack of stability is one of the primary sources of attrition for our highly skilled talent,” Shaikh told Khaleej Times.

Referring to the World Economic Forum estimates, he said about 70 per cent of new value created in the economy over the next decade will be based on digitally-enabled platform business models.

“This initiative shifts the focus on digital ecosystem and economy, which are the way of the future,” Shaikh said.

He said the initiative will pave the way for new industries to be created over time. “Furthermore more, it will foster economic opportunities for the next generation entrepreneurs, employees and shareholders. As we foster and attract more coders into the country, the fruits of this will result in more innovation and progress,” he said.

Talent pool skills

Anthony Tattersall, vice-president for EMEA at Coursera, said the UAE’s talent pools skills ranked just #72 in technology and #71 in data science. “This initiative, therefore, comes at the right time and will undoubtedly be a huge support for UAE professionals to upskill in these fields,” he said.

He said initiatives like this are no doubt a step in the right direction to help attract the brightest coding talents into the region while providing the environment for local professionals to develop world-class coding skills.

“The National Programme for Coding initiative is augmented by programmes such as Dubai Future Accelerators, and incubators such as Hub 71 and the DIFC FinTech Hive, the combination of which will support the country in developing a strong talent pool where digital innovators can flourish,” Tattersall told Khaleej Times.

Good for innovation

Mark Ackerman, area vice-president for Middle East and Africa at ServiceNow, said latest initiative for coders will no doubt create a bigger talent pool of skilled software developers that will unlock the potential for the UAE to achieve even greater degrees of innovation.

“I also believe that this initiative will help accelerate adoption of low-code, no-code platforms. I believe that low-code, no-code platforms are the industry answer to enable citizen developers to build apps faster, with better experiences and productivity for their end users,” he said.

To a question, he said it is really very hard to guesstimate how much new companies will contribute to GDP, but there are a few reports that suggest the contribution will be substantial.

Referring to McKinsey report, he said organisations in the top quartile in terms of ‘Developer Velocity’, report revenue growth four to five times faster than bottom-quartile scorers.

“These companies also scored higher on innovation, customer satisfaction and brand perception,” Ackerman concluded.



Muzaffar Rizvi

Business Editor/News Editor of Khaleej Times is a well-connected journalist and an economic and financial commentator. He has been in the mainstream journalism since 1997, covering the UAE’s economy and key sectors. He holds a post-graduate degree in Economics and has won many awards for authentic and insightful reports on global and regional businesses and economic trends.

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