Includes technology based skillset analysis and insights on enhancing Arab governments’ digital preparedness

The second phase agreement for the joint Arab Strategic Vision for Digital Economy with Harvard University

A delegation from the Council of Arab Economic Unity (CAEU) at the League of Arab States headed by Dr. Ali Al-Khouri, advisor to the Council signed an agreement with Harvard University to provide technology-based skills analysis and recommendations to enhance Arab governments’ digital preparedness and capacities. The agreement was signed at the campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

This follows League of Arab States and CAEU issuing the first draft of the Joint Arab Strategic Vision for Digital Economy which covers the strategy’s framework, its impact on economic growth, job creation, societal welfare and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The agreement also includes Harvard’s continuous review of the joint strategic vision with a specific focus on the strategies’ anticipated effects on critical regional needs, the wellbeing of Arab States citizens, the regulatory frameworks for digital transformation and governance of national digital agendas.

Harvard will also analyze workforce capabilities of a sample of the member states to address public policies and the digital strategies with an assessment of what government infrastructure can facilitate successful deployment of digital services and implementation of the strategic vision programs as well as creation of government as a platform (GaaP) initiatives.

The Executive Leadership Program in digital economy and digital transformation was also presented by the University. The program is designed to train current and future public leaders by providing them with resources, tools and experiences needed to be able to identify the risks, opportunities and the impact of digital technologies on the public interest.

“I extend my thanks to HH Sheikh Mohamemd bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi for his support of some of the research we are doing at the Kennedy school. His support for the digital transformation and the role of government in providing services in the digital era is of enormous importance to promote across the Arab region more broadly. We are delighted to be part of developing the Arab Digital Economy and the programs resulting from its joint strategic vision that Harvard had participated in reviewing”, said Professor David Eaves, Public Policy Lecturer and Director of Digital Management at Kennedy School, Harvard University in a press statement.

“The programs and projects serve all segments of Arab societies and align with our mission to ensure the spread and adaptation of digital technologies done in a manner that is ethical, increases confidence in governing structures and fosters economic opportunities in an equitable manner”, Professor Evans continued.

Dr. Al-khouri emphasized the importance of the second phase of the joint Arab Strategic vision for Digital Economy with Harvard University saying that: “ICT skills have already become a prerequisite for almost all forms of employment, and ICT capacity-building must therefore be prioritized in national youth employment and entrepreneurship strategies in all countries. It is not simply that most jobs and businesses now require ICT skills, but also that ICTs themselves are transforming the way that business is being done everywhere and creating new employment opportunities”.

“This serves the Sustainable Development Goals for decent work and economic growth”, Dr. Al-Khouri highlighted.

“In order to achieve the strategic vision, educational systems, for example, must shape and prepare these skills in early stages,” Dr. Al-Khouri continued. “The pace of change is rapid and the kinds of skills required are also changing rapidly.” So we need to refine skills frequently to cope with these changes”, he concluded.

CAEU and League of Arab States aim to create guidelines to enable Arab states assess the digital capabilities of their employees. The partnership with Harvard will provide strategies on how to target investments in education and skills development and help implement frameworks and tools to enhance research capacities of digital development in the Arab World.