UAE, UAE, ABU DHABI - Economy
Director General, Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR)
Director General of ECSSR since 1994, Jamal Sanad Al-Suwaidi received a bachelor’s degree in political science from Kuwait University and a PhD in political science from the University of Wisconsin. He was a visiting professor at the University of Wisconsin before teaching political science at the United Arab Emirates University. He has written a number of books including, United Arab Emirates Society in the Twenty-first Century: Issues and Challenges in a Changing World (2018), Sheikh Zayed’s Approach in Building the Union (2018), and Events that Changed History (2018). In 2019, he was appointed member of the Think 20 Summit (T20) Supreme Advisory Board, which accompanies the G20 Summit in 2020.
What are ECSSR’s current policy priorities for the UAE and region?
Over the past 25 years, ECSSR has supported the UAE’s development by providing the nation’s decision-makers with studies, ideas, and recommendations that best serve the country’s interests. ECSSR also cooperates with national ministries, authorities, and institutions to support its respective objectives. ECSSR is effective in conducting field studies, public opinion polls, and offering ideas to aid the realization of national goals. Additionally, we recently created the Storm of Thought Alliance to unify the efforts of Arab think tanks, mainly in countries taking part in the Decisive Storm coalition in Yemen, to support respective decision-makers and enhance national and regional security. Moreover, we have entered into cooperation agreements with several Arab research and academic institutions in our effort to support scientific research and development pertaining to regional challenges. ECSSR examines a broad spectrum of political, economic, social, and security issues, continually seeking a realistic evaluation of these issues to anticipate future outcomes. This approach allows us to determine the priorities of the center while also increasing the accuracy of our recommendations. ECSSR will intensify its focus on the impact of the Industry 4.0 and AI, as these issues will have a significant impact on the future security, stability, and development of our region and the world. Looking ahead, ECSSR will continue to focus on issues related to educational development, addressing extremist thought, and exploring energy development opportunities. We will support the national priorities of enhancing constructive societal values such as tolerance, centrism, moderation, coexistence, and openness.
What is the best way for the UAE to navigate the tension between cybersecurity and individual data privacy?
Weighing the protection of individual privacy and data and fighting the threat of possible cyber-attacks is not a big issue. They are two interdependent approaches. Protecting online personal data is essential to ensuring trust in cyberspace and for the safe use of ICT, particularly when it comes to financial activity. Similarly, cybersecurity for government and private sector institutions is critical to national security, considering the massive threat hacking poses to potentially disrupt, destroy, and steal data. This is a particular concern in light of the global shift toward automation and the widespread reliance on modern information and communications technology in services and activities critical to national security. The nation should seek to ensure the protection, as much as possible, of the data privacy of individuals and institutions by enacting legislation to sanction individuals or entities found to be violating privacy or attempting to damage state institutions. This does not impede the state’s right to monitor social media use and content published online in order to protect individuals and prevent the internet’s misuse, which jeopardizes security and stability.
What key areas is the UAE poised to play a regional leadership role in over the next decade?
The UAE has become a powerful and active force in the region as it advocates security, stability, and development. It is a pioneering role model for the region and the best destination for Arab youth. The UAE tirelessly seeks to spread positive values that promote tolerance, peace, and progress to oppose sectarian forces that incite violence, hatred, and extremism. The UAE’s leadership also possesses the determination and perseverance to confront any risk that threatens the country’s national security, interests, or prosperity. There are many areas where the UAE can play a leading role in the region over the next five years. One of the most important will be leading the region toward Industry 4.0 and the age of AI. The UAE can also lead the way in ensuring sustainable and comprehensive development in the post oil-era, as well as spreading tolerance, moderation, and openness to combat extremism.