H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Salem bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Deputy Ruler of Sharjah, attended the opening of the 6th edition of the GCC HR & Labor Market Conference being organized by the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SCCI) from October 14 – 15 at the Expo Centre Sharjah. The two-day event is being held under the theme “Gulf Labor Market in Light of the Growth of the Digital Economy”, in collaboration with the Secretariat General of the Gulf Cooperation Council and Federation of GCC Chambers. The opening session was inaugurated by HE Abdullah Sultan Al Owais, Vice Chairman of Federation of UAE Chambers of Commerce & Industry, Chairman of the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the Expo Centre Sharjah, in the presence of HE Nasser bin Thani AL Hamli, Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation, who was the guest of honor of the opening session. Keynote speakers included HE Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani, Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council and HE Dr. Sami bin Abdullah Al-Obaidi, Vice-President of the Federation of GCC Chambers, Chairman of the Council of Saudi Chambers. Two documentary films were screened during the opening session. The first documentary was about the development phases of the conference. While the second film was on the Sharjah Gulf Localization Award and efforts made by the UAE and other Gulf countries to develop the human capital and the role of the conference in this regard. Meanwhile, Sheikh Abdullah bin Salem bin Sultan Al Qasimi, honored Nasser Bin Thani Al Hamli, Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, Dr. Sami bin Abdullah Al-Obaidi, and jury members of the Sharjah Gulf Localization Award as well as the winners. Sheikh Abdullah, accompanied by the SCCI’s chairman and a number of Emirati and Gulf officials, inaugurated the conference’s accompanying exhibition, where he was briefed on the services provided by the participating entities in the conference. He then inaugurated the “Youth District” initiative, which is one of the SCCI Youth Council’s initiatives. An Unlimited Support In his keynote address, HE Abdullah Sultan Al Owais lauded the unlimited support of His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah for all efforts being made to develop the performance and skills of Emirati human capital and invest in their capabilities. The SCCI’s chairman thanked Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed bin Sultan Al Qasimi, for patronizing and attending the opening session of the conference, noting that this would enrich and enhance the value of the event. Boosting the Emiratization in Business Sectors “In the past and like other GCC countries, the UAE relied on oil resources to support its revenues and economy. Due to constant fluctuations in oil prices and the resultant impact on the development process, the wise leadership has determined to move towards the post-oil economy stage, by developing alternatives taking into account available resources and launching a set of strategic plans and key decisions to boost Emiratization in business sectors and make it a key principle for both public and private sectors”, said Al Owais. The SCCI’s chairman also shed light on the 'letter of the new season of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in which he underlined that Emiratization is a top priority, as well as the directives given by His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah to place Emiratis working in the private sector under the umbrella and protection of the Government of Sharjah, while receiving the same salary and job grade”. Concluding his speech, Al Owais called for following up and implementing the recommendations and initiatives of the conference while utilizing it to develop and enhance the Gulf human capital through a joint effective vision. Trade (101) Initiative On the sidelines of the conference, Al Owais launched the SME Center Initiative (Trade 101), which aims to support and motivate young people to engage in business and economic activities, and create a conducive business environment that would ensure the sustainable development in society. In its first phase, the centre will train 10 young women and men in specific disciplines including managing and organizing exhibitions, auditing, tax collection, translation, e-commerce, hospitality, design and graphic photography. Future is not something we wait for For his part, HE Nasser bin Thani Al Hamli said: “This conference comes at a time where we are going through global transformations and economic, technical and environmental changes that directly affect the GCC labor markets. Thus, all officials and decision-makers have to reconsider strategies and policies governing labor markets. Al Hamli stressed the importance of addressing constantly arising challenges by developing practical solutions and getting ready to the future, citing Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid’s quote as saying: The future is not something we wait for, but something we make”. “Indeed, future will not be only for those who have money but also for those who have a knowledge capital and creative abilities, the minister affirmed. Important occasion HE Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, praised the UAE’s excellent efforts being made to improve and train its human capital so that they become well-positioned to lead the country’s development journey. “This conference has progressed to become an important occasion to discuss the latest economic developments going on in the region. It also represents a good opportunity to stimulate ideas, visions, motivate human resources and develop their capabilities, thanks to them being the main engine of the labor market” Al Zayani said. “All GCC governments do pay their human capital a keen interest as evidenced by offering their young people sophisticated education systems and training courses and programs. This comes despite the fact that most of the GCC countries depend on expatriates, where statistics showed that there are only 7 million Gulf workers out of total number of workforces, who are about 26 million, he added. National strategy HE Dr. Sami bin Abdullah Al-Obaidi, affirmed that the GCC governments have taken many serious steps and initiated economic reforms following the sharp declines in oil prices in 2014. He stressed that gulf governments encouraged the private sector to play a greater role and promoted human development programs that aimed to train and qualify their citizens to make them the first preferred option for the private sector. Speaking on digital economy, Al-Obaidi said that the GCC states are currently pursuing multiple digital strategies, including the UAE government, which launched the UAE's Fourth Industrial Revolution Strategy in September 2017. He called on all gulf institutions and officials to work hand in hand and cope with the transformation towards the digital economy. This will not be made possible with developing a clear national strategy that provides facilities, legislation and infrastructure that support the private sector enterprises.