The Middle East, North Africa and Turkey region is witnessing a great transformation across its social and economic fabric. Development has taken a grassroots shift, with the emphasis squarely on enhancing the quality of life of the people, creating jobs for its youth population and promoting a culture of research and development to create localized solutions. Increasingly, governments across the region place an unprecedented emphasis on innovation, as a priority, to help address the overall developmental goals for a better future.
What makes innovation the game-changer in this fast growing economic bloc? Why is there greater focus on creating it anew? Where does the region draw on for resources to drive innovation? How can it become ingrained in the economy as a tangible tool for progress?
These four questions have but one answer: People.
Innovation in today’s context across the MENAT region places utmost importance on the community. It is a people-centered and people-oriented approach, whereby innovative practices and solutions are expected to have a cascading effect, touching every section of the society.
This is reflected in the strategic vision documents of the regional governments. Innovation, be it in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar or Turkey, is perceived as a driver to achieve the bigger goals of faster economic growth, more social cohesion, and better community engagement.
It is in this context that the findings of the GE 2013 Global Innovation Barometer Survey become relevant for governments and businesses, and in fact a referral point on how the region perceives innovation as a driving force for future growth.
Not surprisingly, and as GE has observed through its long-term partnerships, respondents in the region strongly believe that innovation is their strategic priority, and a tangible force that has helped them in the past to achieve business growth.
However, what is particularly relevant in this year’s findings is the openness of the region’s businesses to tap into the power of partnerships and collaboration in promoting a culture of innovation and to co-create new technologies and solutions that are tailored to meet local needs.
Simultaneously, and as a complement to the development approach of the governments, businesses seek stronger linkages between educational institutions and businesses, and place a high level of emphasis on attracting and retaining talented and innovative people.
I believe that it is validation of GE’s growth approach to the region, where we have been led by partnerships with public and private sector entities, have nurtured industry-academic linkages, and continue to invest in human capital development.
We will continue to invest in innovation as a prime force of growth, and in this journey forward, we are particularly proud to have the support of the business community. Our vision and outlook towards innovation resonates seamlessly; together, let us strive to fulfill the growth aspirations of the region.
Indeed, as game-changers go, there cannot be a stronger strategy than keeping a firm finger on new, original and creative thinking and action that is not necessarily imported but steadily, surely and genuinely home-grown.
Nabil Habayeb is President and CEO, GE in the Middle East, North Africa & Turkey.