The UAE Ministry of Economy (MoE) and the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA), the world’s largest cooperative organization, will work together to develop the country’s cooperative sector of over AED3.1 billion (840 millions of dollars).
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the two entities is part of the ministry’s strategy to improve the performance of the country’s cooperative sector and increase its contribution to the national economy.
The MoU was signed by Abdullah Al Saleh, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Economy, and Balasubramanian Iyer, Regional Director of the Alliance, on behalf of ICA.
Improve the working environment
Al Saleh said the partnership will help elevate the working environment in the country’s cooperative sector to new levels. He explained that within the framework of the MoU, joint actions will be carried out with the ICA to contribute to the development of flexible and proactive legislation that will strengthen the cooperative model and regulate its governance.
This will in turn improve the preparedness of the UAE’s cooperative working environment and increase its contribution to the country’s non-oil GDP growth.
Furthermore, he pointed out that this MoU serves the objectives and integrated strategy of the MoE to achieve qualitative development in the cooperative sector to enable it to play a direct role in the diversification and competitiveness of the national economy. .
He added, “The cooperative sector plays a central role in achieving the UAE’s sustainable economic and social development goals and is an important asset for the competitiveness and diversity of the national economy. In line with the Wise Leaders Vision for the Future and the 50 Principles and Projects, the UAE Government has adopted a new vision for this vital sector aimed at improving its performance in line with international best practices and enhancing its role in the new country. economic model. The country has achieved regional leadership in the development of the cooperative model and the establishment of a favorable environment and policies that stimulate its growth.
Al Saleh further noted that the UAE is one of the first countries in the region to allow the regulation and trading of cooperative shares in its financial markets, a move that strengthens the leadership and competitiveness of cooperatives in the Arab Emirates. united regionally and globally. It allows the activation and deepening of its role of supplying the country’s economic sectors and supporting its shareholders.
Drivers of diversity
“Today we continue our efforts to complete the cooperative sector development strategy to enable the sector to play its rightful role as a driver of diversity, sustainability, innovation, high productivity and the transition to a future economy in the UAE,” he added.
Meanwhile, Iyer said, “Through this agreement, we aspire to provide the cooperative sector in the UAE with international best practice, following the footprints of leading examples from countries around the world. Our strategy is to promote the development of the current cooperative system in the UAE, raise awareness and encourage the participation of youth and women, and build capacity.
“This strategy aims to increase the contribution of cooperatives to supporting the country’s economy, as it is an important priority area in achieving the UAE Centenary Goals 2071 and supports the country’s efforts to establish a diversified economic model”.
The Ministry of Education aspires to soon put in place a one-of-a-kind comprehensive strategy to develop the cooperative sector in the UAE. This strategy includes training the entities that oversee the cooperative sector and familiarizing them with the latest international practices and methods.
There are also plans to launch a joint committee with cooperative members, as well as federal and local entities that oversee the sector, to oversee the implementation of the strategy, in collaboration with the ministry. It will promote the joint efforts of the ministry and its partners to promote the national cooperative sector. The development strategy is divided into three stages.
The first stage includes developing the cooperative sector in the UAE and assessing the current state of the sector. This will be achieved by establishing MoE and ICA teams to collaborate in the development of the cooperative jurisdictional system as well as the promotion of research and development activities.
This stage will further include training workshops open to all, as they focus on introducing the importance of the sector, its role in supporting the national economy and exploring ways to establish more cooperatives. in the UAE.
The second stage aims to conduct in-depth studies on the development of the cooperative sector, promote opportunities, identify challenges and ways to diversify the priority sectors in which cooperatives operate in collaboration with partners.
In addition, the second stage will oversee the development of an effective strategy to increase the sector’s contribution to the country’s GDP to 5% by 2031.
The third phase will focus on the qualification of people working in the cooperative sector, making them aware of the best practices followed on a global scale. It will also focus on human capacity development of local UAE entities and departments regarding policies, law enforcement and performance monitoring of cooperatives.
This objective will be achieved through the realization of training programs, the launch of initiatives and business incubators to accelerate the growth of the next generation of cooperative entrepreneurs. In addition, training and academic programs will be developed for students.
These programs aim to consolidate cooperative thinking that addresses cooperative principles and initiate awareness campaigns and programs across the UAE to raise awareness of cooperatives and their importance, in cooperation with relevant local and federal government entities and the private sector. The partnership will last 18 months.
By the end of 2020, the number of cooperative societies in their various forms in the UAE reached nearly 42, including 20 consumer societies, 13 for fishermen, 7 societies in other fields, two unions of cooperatives and 200 outlets and branches in all the countries. . The total value of the cooperative sector stood at AED3.1 billion ($840 million) and its net profit stood at more than AED1 billion by the end of the same year, while the number shareholders in the cooperatives amounted to around 97,000 paying members until the end of 2020.
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