Opinion Piece by Dr Ayoub Kazim, Managing Director, TECOM Investments’ Education Cluster
UAE is home to 50 per cent of universities in the GCC and 15 per cent of academic institutions in the Middle East. However, very few offer specialised courses in transport and logistics. Additionally, there are not too many options in the country when looking at an internationally certified programme such as IATA.
It is imperative that the public sector and regulatory authorities encourage these universities and institutions to introduce and enhance logistics and transport training programmes. Let us examine in detail the critical need for boosting human capital, particularly for this sector; why this specific industry?
Tourism and logistics is the core of the UAE’s economy and make up a sizeable chunk of its GDP. According to the Travel and Tourism Global Overview report, the UAE will see an annual increase in arrivals by 6.9 per cent during the forecast review period from 2010-2015, resulting in 3.6 million new arrivals.
Further, a recent Frost & Sullivan report has revealed revenues from the UAE’s logistics market will reach US$9.40 billion in 2014, an impressive jump from last year’s figure of $7.03 billion.
Undoubtedly, the obvious advantages of a strategic geographical location and tax free business environment have contributed to the UAE’s status as an ideal shipping centre for trade between the East and West.
Looking far beyond the immediate and well in time, our government recognised the importance of deviating the economy’s overdependence on its natural resources of oil and gas that today contribute only four per cent to the UAE’s GDP. As a logical progression, the tourism and logistics sectors were developed to become key drivers of the country’s economy.
Let’s take a look at some of the entities that play a vital role in the UAE’s logistics sector. Dubai Ports World is one of the largest marine terminal operators in the world. It has 49 terminals with nine new developments and major expansions underway across 31 countries, including some of the most dynamic economies in the world. Its operations involve a qualified and experienced team of over 30,000 individuals.
Similarly, Abu Dhabi Ports plays an active role in developing ports and encouraging trade with an ambitious plan.
The continuous growth in both ports will call for an increased manpower requirement. The healthy competition within the economy will further boost the need for trained professionals.
The UAE is now home to the world’s largest cargo airport, the Al Maktoum International Airport. It is the core facility of Dubai World Central, a planned residential, commercial and logistics complex scheme. World Central is the world’s first truly integrated logistics platform with most transport modes, logistics and value added services, including manufacturing and assembly, in a single bonded and free zone environment.
The UAE is also home to several passenger airlines such as Emirates, Etihad as well as budget carriers Fly Dubai, RAK Air and Air Arabia, among others.
Dubai is expanding its public transport network to accommodate its growing population and expanding horizons as Dubai dynamically changes its skyline. The expansion will cover 320 additional kilometers of metro network that is expected to be completed by 2020. Abu Dhabi metro rail system will run approximately 131 kilometers and be supported by tram and bus feeder services. The metro will connect the capital with communities such as Saadiyat, Yas Islands and Al Raha Beach.
Abu Dhabi has embraced sustainable transportation in its Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030 and has signed the International Association of Public Transport (UITP) Charter on Sustainable Development.
The RTA is working on the establishment of the UAE’s Railroad Authority with other GCC countries and put in place a railroad network that serves the entire region.
In 2010, the logistics cost was over 12 per cent of the UAE’s revenue generated from various industries, according to Frost and Sullivan report. Moreover, the UAE’s revenue from the logistics market is expected to reach $10 billion in 2015, with revenue forecasts for the UAE’s total logistics market, 2006-2015 to be eight percent. This projection has underlined the urgent need for the transport and logistics industry to develop innovative educational materials and training programmes that can balance the industry’s demand for skilled professionals.
With the exponential growth in the tourism, travel and logistics sector, the need for capacity building takes a larger significance. The need for industry-specific skilled and qualified human capital cannot be reiterated enough.
Needless to say, a passive response from academic institutions to educate students and prepare them for leadership roles in this key sector will only incur huge losses and represent a short-sightedness to adequately leverage the boom.
This brings me back to the argument that if we are to fulfil the demand for qualified personnel to efficiently run the establishments of UAE’s transport and logistics sector, it is imperative that universities offer internationally certified and specialised training for this sector.
This will help use local talent and human capital resources instead of seeking outside expertise to handle the country’s projects, thus maintaining the expenditure on human resource within the economy.
More closer to home, within the DIAC campus, we have made a start with universities such as the University of Wollongong in Dubai and the S.P. Jain Center of Management offering courses on Logistics and Supply Chain Management. In the short-term, we look forward to more institutions of higher learning responding to this urgent call.
Profile of Author
Dr Ayoub Kazim is the Managing Director of Dubai Knowledge Village (DKV) and Dubai International Academic City (DIAC), both part of TECOM Investments’ Education Cluster, a member of Dubai Holding. He is responsible for strategically steering the education and human resource development clusters and further consolidating their status as the region’s leading centers of excellence for learning and human capital.
Heading a team of professionals across (DKV) and (DIAC), Dr Kazim played a major role to ensure consistent growth in the number of business partners at both (DKV) and (DIAC). With over 20 years of experience gained from working in TECOM, Dubai Municipality and UAE University in Al Ain, Dr Kazim is known for his wide vision of long term strategic planning. This fruitful experience has led to his success in the education sector, in line with the vision of Dubai becoming a knowledge-based economy.
Credit: The opinion piece appeared in the LOG. Middle East magazine (June, 2011 issue)