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Life sciences may not be the first industry that comes to mind when the Middle East is considered. But, the UAE has driven regional ambitions when it comes to everything from cloning to cancer research.
In May 2017 a British expat, who had lost a leg more than a decade ago, was given a 3D-printed prosthesis as part of the UAE’s Year of Giving. The UAE has embraced 3D printing to the degree that within the heart of Dubai’s financial district sit 3D printed offices. They are not in use but are a showcase used, presumably, to inspire usage of this new technology.
In November 2015 a camel was born of a cloned parent; the parent was ‘born’ in 2010 as the world’s first cloned camel. Whilst it is illegal to clone a human being in the UAE, using cloning technology to support the country’s farming sector is fully endorsed understanding that in the desert climate animals, especially camels, have been a lifeline for people for generations.
The UAE is also encouraging the use of hydroponic technology and its enhancement. The GCC has been blessed with acres and acres of sand, perfect for desert safari’s and sand castles, but not so good for food production. With the lack of rain and soil in the UAE, and a similar situation in neighbouring countries, locally produced food is rare and the majority is imported. Hydroponics is seen as part of the solution.
In 2015 the UAE government pledged Dh300 billion to help create a knowledge economy. One of the most noticeable differences between the UAE and the UK is the style of government. Whereas it may sometimes be the case that a politician uses a pledge to posture ahead of an election, the UAE’s government system means a pledge is as close to a promise as it is possible for a government to make. Furthermore, the UAE has shown itself to be open to ideas from business big and small. This means that a small to medium sized UK firm with a good idea has as much chance of securing a contract as a large multinational; and with Dh300 billion on the table, good ideas should be put into play.