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New deal allows Abu Dhabi to tap into global tech talent pool

The partnership aims to find - and nurture - skills in areas such as AI and machine learning Creative Commons
The partnership aims to find - and nurture - skills in areas such as AI and machine learning

Abu Dhabi’s latest partnership agreement, part of its $545 million Innovation Programme, will help address urgent skill shortages in the technology sector and widen access to the global talent pool.

The Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO) yesterday announced a partnership with global in-house centre consulting firm ANSR and artificial intelligence-powered talent sourcing platform Talent500.

ADIO said the alliance will establish engineering and research and development (R&D) centres for some of the world’s leading businesses and startups, helping to attract global talent and establish Abu Dhabi as a “regional powerhouse” for innovation.

Under the agreement, ADIO will provide the companies with financial and non-financial incentives, while ANSR is expected to invest more than $100 million over the next five years, creating hundreds of jobs in emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), data analytics, product engineering and cloud.

Shameema Parveen, co-founder and CEO of Edutech, a tech-based learning solutions provider across classrooms, innovation centers and STEM labs in the Middle East, told AGBI that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has already made significant strides to attract such talent, including changes to its human resource laws, employment contracts, and the introduction of gig economy-friendly visas, and this latest move will help to directly address the global talent deficit within the fast-growing technology sector. 

“I think this is another step in the same direction,” Parveen said.

“The talent shortage is huge because skills requirements are changing very quickly.

“The learning opportunities exist, but it’s still hard to find skilled talent in areas such as AI, machine learning (ML) and crypto, for example, because there’s too many new developments every day.

“At the same time, the available talent, particularly among the younger generation, want to have the ability to have a variety of work experiences and not be tied into one particular job for years.

“All of these aspects open up the possibility for both employees and employers to come to Abu Dhabi and utilise this opportunity.”

The global labour deficit is expected to hit 85 million people by 2030 – a shortage that could result in about $8.5 trillion in unrealised annual revenues, according to figures from global consulting firm Korn Ferry.

At the same time, a 2021 Accenture report said that while 63 percent of high-growth companies have adopted a “productivity anywhere” workforce model, 69 percent of negative or no-growth companies are still focused on where people are going to physically work, favouring all onsite or remote rather than enable hybrid. 

Closer to home, a Cisco global survey focused on employees’ attitudes to hybrid work polled 1,050 full-time staff across the UAE and discovered almost 90 percent want to work either in a hybrid or fully remote working model in the future.

“When businesses are growing rapidly, a common growing pain is finding the right people, and enough of them,” said Gulf-based business growth specialist Ayman Itani, who advises both founders and governments that run startup programs in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

“To move fast to address the business growth, the business needs to do a combination of local hire in the countries they are in, and remote hires to access the global talent pool.

“The partnerships that ADIO has put in place will help address this.”

ANSR, backed by Evolvence, Accel Partners and Sistema, enables companies to build distributed teams in support of workforce transformation.

ANSR mitigates traditional risks associated with establishing and operating global teams through a flexible, no-capex, pay-as-you-grow subscription-based engagement model.

In parallel, Talent500 helps hire, build and manage global remote workforces.

“When investors complete an investment in a business, the clock starts ticking and there usually is a 12 to 18 month target to reach that involves growing the business in many different aspects including talent,” Itani added. 

“So access to a skilled and educated talent pool can help businesses reach specific milestones of revenue and growth and exit multiples.”

ADIO said its Innovation Programme will support ANSR in setting up its Europe, Middle East and Africa headquarters while simultaneously establishing The Global Technology Hub, a destination for enterprises to attract global workforce and set up technology teams across AI, mobile, product and design.

“Being home to 200 nationalities and a dynamic innovation ecosystem, Abu Dhabi understands that the future of work is being rapidly reshaped and is equipped to enable workforce transformation,” Abdulla Abdul Aziz Al Shamsi, acting director general of ADIO, said in a statement.

“With talent and teams increasingly mobile and global, organisations need new technologies and solutions to maintain a successful workforce.

“ANSR and Talent500 are aligned with Abu Dhabi’s vision of using innovation to address global challenges, and we are excited to support their growth through the Innovation Programme, which will enable us to drive meaningful progress in the global talent market.”