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Innovation Culture for Youth Empowerment in the UAE: The Role of ICT

Published on: March 2010​
Author:
Genre: Governance/Public Sector Management​ Category: Policy Brief/ Policy Note​

A culture of innovation within society can lead to sustained economic growth, greater global competitiveness, enhanced employment and entrepreneurship opportunities, and a more inclusive society for youth. Information and communication technologies (ICT) and the Internet have been repeatedly identified as key drivers for promoting innovation among youth, and for cultivating a more innovative society as a whole. Several factors, however, continue to block the potential of ICTs to create a culture of innovation in the Arab world; namely, access to and utilization of ICT tools; Internet censorship; and the failure of educational institutions to teach innovation and entrepreneurship skills.

This paper explores these factors and their implications for the creation of a culture of innovation and youth empowerment across the Arab region, with a focus on the GCC region and the UAE specifically. Based on the findings of a series of workshops and meetings with senior UAE and GCC policy makers, several policy recommendations are proposed to address existing barriers. These include ensuring universal access to ICTs through upgrading infrastructure; supporting and promoting the digital Arabic content (DAC) industry; reforming educational methods by integrating ICT tools and innovation skills into the classroom; enhancing career options for youth by teaching entrepreneurial skills at an early stage; and, revising Internet censorship laws to better balance cultural sensitivities and the online flow of information, knowledge and technologies.


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