The Next 50
2021 marks the 50th year since all seven emirates came together, forming a strong union, with ambition and forward thinking to create and secure a better future for generations to come.
This year we celebrated and continue to celebrate years of achievements, advancements, and partnerships with a country we are proud to call home.
We have witnessed over the past 20 years the fast and vast development of several sectors in the UAE, preparing the nation to become the international hub that it is today for new business, which has resulted in more overseas companies opening their doors, and eventually boosting the economy along with other sectors including tourism, transport, and construction to name a few.
Today, we watch while people from all over the world come to Dubai to attend a historic event, EXPO 2020 Dubai, which reflects the capabilities of the nation and unlocks the potential for individuals and communities to shape the future, create smarter and more productive movement of people, goods, and ideas, both physically and virtually, and finally respect and live-in balance with the world we inhabit to ensure a sustainable future for all.
Outsourcing a range of services to us enables us to help empower the public sector, particularly during the last two years with the pandemic highlighting more than ever the important role that partnering plays in enabling governments to act and respond quickly and with flexibility and ensuring that we harness the power of technology to deliver an effective service for citizens.
Outsourcing is not only about cost saving and efficient delivery of projects, but the concept also goes beyond that. International companies can bring with them global expertise and a wealth of cross-industry knowledge. A report by Serco Institute showed outsourcing can reduce risks of project failure, provide staffing flexibility, increase safety through strict measures and controlled environments, and fill immediate gaps during times of high demand.
Taking air traffic services as an example, the report shows that when the private sector provides these services, it scores well on performance measures of delays and safety incidents and demonstrates cost savings of up to 75%, while soft facilities management in the healthcare sector can save the government up to 30%.
The UAE government has been outsourcing from the private sector for years and has recently started facilitating the establishment of these companies within the country without the need for a sponsor. By time, more and more companies will choose the UAE as a new gateway for their businesses, and this will eventually benefit the overall economy of the country by introducing new ideas, skills, expertise, and projects.
But what does the next 50 years look like for each sector?
Citizen services – the way to citizens’ happiness
This tells us a lot about the government’s strategy in ensuring the happiness of the population through easy and accessible services, whether it was renewing a driver’s license or applying for a work permit.
The research indicates that whilst people are largely happy with the current quality of UAE government services, they want increased digital access, more unified platforms (multiple services accessible from a single app, website, or location), and greater personalisation.
The future of these services will see more collaboration between the UAE government and the private sector to use technologies, automation and AI that will support the growing needs of having everything in one place, from services to applications, documents, approvals, and much more.
This goes hand in hand with the recent statement by Emirate's Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum announcing that Dubai is the first paperless government in the world, which will not only put Dubai and the UAE at the forefront of technology-led countries but will also save the government more than AED1.3B in paper.
Asset management and managing the data
The majority of Middle East organisations fall below the industry standard for asset management, with 80% managing their assets as reactive maintenance rather than planning it, and eventually failing to attain or even exceed industry standards. By utilising the right combination of integrated solutions, asset management service providers can help reduce operational costs by up to 50%, increase up time and availability by 10%, increase asset life by 15%, and finally reduce inventory cost by 35%.
The way forward is digital asset management and is the key to unlocking new strategies for further cost optimisation, minimising reactive maintenance, extending economic life, and improving productivity when you look to use data to help provide the solution.
We need to leverage as much of the data collected points as possible and ascertain where an asset is currently positioned, relative to the remaining useful life, to determine when and what action (if any) should be chosen, and this is the way forward for asset management. I see huge opportunity in the market for asset management both in the short and long term.
Conquering the aviation sector
According to a recent paper published by IATA, the aviation industry, (including airlines, its supply chain and foreign tourists) holds 13.3% of the UAE’s GDP ($47.7b) and supports 777,000 jobs, making it one of the most important contributors to the local economy. It’s important that the facilities and services within the transport sector not only meet customer expectations, but pre-empt and exceed them.
Through ExperienceLab, our user centred research and design agency, we work to understand the passengers’ needs, demands and motivations. The thousands of travellers that pass through an airport are from a variety of cultures and backgrounds and only through gathering insights and understanding those differences can we design an operational model that puts the passenger at the heart of an airport.
Technology will be key to enhancing experience over the next 50 years; automation, AI, facial scanners and effective use of data to analyse and track footfall throughout airports will continually predict, improve and enhance. But we mustn’t forget the people; humans still like to interact with humans. We use technology to wrap around our people-led solution design and the training product we have created at Dubai Airport through our ExperienceLab team has enabled our 500 strong guest ambassadors to deliver a world class signature guest experience to millions of happy passengers.
Ultimately, as we see it, the next 50 years will see some major positive developments when it comes to technology and powering the future.
Healthcare sector – World Class Services
The UAE has a comprehensive, government-funded health service and a fast-developing private health sector that delivers a high standard of healthcare with some of the most advanced technologies for citizens and residents.
With the Cabinet of UAE launching The Centennial 2071 project, which aims to place the country as the best country in the world by 2071, the health system must meet the highest standards, providing citizens, residents, and visitors with the best health services in the world, from facilities to experienced frontliners, technologies, medicine and much more.
When COVID hit last year, we witnessed how the UAE handled a global pandemic, from the nation-wide sterilisation programmes, to availing vaccines locally and globally, manufacturing vaccines, creating the Green Pass System through Alhosn application, and finally, equipping hospitals and frontline heroes to be able to contain the spread of the virus. This shows that the UAE is on the right track to becoming one of the world’s best destinations for healthcare, and the way forward is technology.
Imagine having all your medical files, including test results, previous and upcoming appointments, prescriptions and much more in one place?
E-health, with the support of the private sector, can provide an improved patient monitoring system, have more informed patients, encourage healthier habits, and have more efficient hospitals and health clinics.
Data monitoring and collection from health applications will enable health providers analyse and monitor patients, and eventually provide better health services and solutions.
Empowering national skills for the future
The UAE government recently announced the Nafis programme as part of the country’s “Projects of the 50”, which aims to support Emirati nationals to pursue professional careers by creating 75,000 jobs in the private sector by 2025.
It’s considered to be one of the most important performance indicators for the UAE’s vision in 2021, and at Serco we already see great focus from the government on training and qualifying citizens in several fields in addition to issuing provisions and rules that regulate business and tasks and offering incentives to increase the number of highly skilled and qualified Emiratis in the workforce, especially in the private sector. We have already registered for the programme and are in conversation with our key clients to work together to increase our national workforce on our contracts.
Here at Serco, nationalisation has always been a core part of our strategy. In 2022 and beyond we are aiming for a minimum of 10% of our roles to be filled by nationals and are proud to have achieved over 8% across the region in 2021, despite the challenges brought by the pandemic.
It’s not about hiring as a tickbox exercise though, development is key and this year we conducted 236 UAE national talent reviews to identify how to further develop the talent within our business. Training and upskilling is key and our colleagues have been awarded 457 NVQs and 46 ILM qualifications.
We also believe that real-life experience is invaluable, and through processes such as Serco’s internship programme where we give students the chance to ‘try out’ working in different areas of our business over a six-week period we broaden their experience to the vast number of opportunities that are available in the private sector. We were privileged to have 26 nationals come through our Fursati programme this year and our national focused graduate programme is award winning.
Ultimately, as we see it, the next 50 years will see some major positive developments when it comes to technology and powering the future. Our forward-thinking leadership highlights the ambition that each of us has and our commitment towards making the UAE a world-class destination on all fronts.
We have the skills, the passion and the talent to implement incredible measures, and by working together collaboratively and navigating the inevitable challenges ahead, we remain resolute in our resolve to future proof our nation for the next generation to live, work in and visit.
CEO, Serco Middle East By Phil Malem
Phil brings a wealth of broad industry experience, strong capabilities in strategic client engagement and successful business leadership.
He is responsible for business growth and delivery of the core sectors in the Middle East region which include Defence, Transport, Healthcare, Justice and Immigration and Citizen Services.