Strategic alliances are a game-changer in a globalized world
The UAE recently made headlines with its ambitious plan to invest £10 billion ($13.7 billion) in priority sectors in the UK. Its new level of collaboration aims to accelerate funding and innovation in key sectors, in addition to creating jobs, strengthening national research capabilities and initiating new areas of investments and economic cooperation between the two nations.
The partnership will also expand the exchange of knowledge, skills and ideas — considered pivotal in the coming years. A special delegation headed by the UAE’s economy minister is scheduled to visit the UK to discuss potential areas of partnership in trade, investment, small and medium-sized enterprises, healthcare, renewable energy, food security, finance and banking, transport and logistics, education, innovation and technology, and intellectual property.
In an increasingly globalized and interdependent world, such shrewd partnerships can pave the way toward achieving a number of great ambitions. In order to foster strategic international partnerships that are fruitful for both parties, it is critical to consider the broader economic, social and political context in which governments now operate.
Fostering international alliances taps into game-changing expertise. Governments can access valuable knowledge or innovations through partnerships with leading research centers, universities, think tanks and consulting firms. A number of successful policies have been credited to proposals by renowned subject matter experts and Nobel laureates in behavioral economics, early childhood development, foresight, and science and technology. Their ability to think outside the box, understand various stakeholders’ needs, connect ideas across sectors and craft solutions have positioned them as co-creators of government policies.
In fact, a number of renowned think tanks across the globe regularly host roundtable discussions with government officials to present their latest findings and solutions on a number of pressing issues. Additionally, many governments partner with universities and research centers to enroll scholarship students in key academic and training programs, of which graduates are then employed in public agencies upon graduation.
Moreover, many governments have found it relevant to partner with foreign states with achievements in particular areas. This not only allows them to connect with a party with a similar way of operating, but also enables them to gain useful insights into how to approach challenging policy issues, design robust and tested solutions, maximize value, avoid implementation pitfalls, and learn about practical technologies or management practices that could enable them to deliver their work more effectively and efficiently.
Furthermore, temporary secondment assignments between different government agencies give trainees opportunities to expand their knowledge and skills, which are then transferred back to their respective agencies.
International companies benefit from expanded market access and demand for their products, while also upgrading the capabilities of the healthcare sector.
The private sector is also playing an influential role in supporting government agendas. Their competitive edge reflects the growing confidence of government agencies in securing capability-led deals with successful companies as engines of economic growth and delivery partners of key public services and infrastructure projects.
Governments are also tapping into their pioneering innovations, benchmarks and management practices to deliver training programs for civil servants or to transfer best practices across industries. Moreover, the annual pledge to corporate social responsibility programs by multinational companies ensures that priority public programs are supported through stronger funding and volunteering efforts.
The region has put itself on the global map with its recent announcements of strategic international partnerships. For example, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Investment signed a partnership with AstraZeneca, the multinational pharmaceutical and biotech company behind the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
The partnership involves establishing clinical research centers in the Kingdom and pioneering innovative pharmaceutical products, which will then be manufactured and delivered locally for patients. International companies benefit from expanded market access and demand for their products, while also upgrading the capabilities of the healthcare sector through research, clinical trials, medication manufacturing, and service enhancement.
Saudi Arabia also recently launched a major $1.2 billion technology initiative with the goal of becoming a global technology hub. A number of strategic partnerships were announced with global technology players such as Amazon, IBM, Cisco, Oracle, Huawei, Informa, Alibaba and Microsoft. Initiatives include the establishment of innovation hubs for tech startups, digital capability centers, regional centers for management and training, and upskilling programs in the fields of cybersecurity, programming, artificial intelligence and electronic gaming.
Another example is the partnership between the Royal Commission for AlUla in Saudi Arabia and the French government to invest in a number of projects. These include research in archaeology and archaeobotany, the exploration of new archaeological excavation sites, the restoration of AlUla old town and the development of tourism infrastructure. The partnership also led to 96 Saudi scholarship students enrolling in France’s Ferrandi school of culinary arts and hospitality management, where they will train to become tour guides, leading chefs and culinary entrepreneurs, eventually working in AlUla.
Arab government agencies could surely benefit from establishing units dedicated to fostering strategic international partnerships within their respective portfolios. Doing so will ensure different channels are available for decision-makers to tap into a network of experts, alliances, co-creators, sponsors, trainers, marketers and implementers.
Indeed, the region is at a turning point where strategic international partnerships are advancing its agendas in historic ways, boosting its resilience and competitiveness for the future.
• Sara Al-Mulla is an Emirati civil servant with an interest in human development policy and children’s literature. She can be contacted at www.amorelicious.com.