Abdullah Ahmed Al Suwaidi, Acting Director-General, Statistics Centre - Abu Dhabi (SCAD)

On utilising technologies and statistical modelling to optimise data analysis 

In what ways are digital tools and advanced analytical technologies improving the collection and interpretation of data?

ABDULLAH AHMED AL SUWAIDI: The development and application of new technology is a top priority for SCAD. Specifically, we are working to use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine-learning technologies to streamline and optimise the way in which the public interacts with our data. These developments help ensure that the information and analyses that we provide achieve the necessary balance between being informative and simple enough to be easily understood. For example, when presenting our findings on GDP growth, we make sure hard data is accompanied by detailed and clear analysis to help explain why we believe the numbers are what they are. Such analysis relies not only on our analysts, but also on the statistical modelling and AI that forms the backbone of our work.

A key part of making ourselves accessible and our output understandable is our effort to create an online, user-friendly interface that will make all of our data and analyses available to the public. This will help ensure that SCAD’s work is in line with the government’s drive to use digitalisation to improve customer experience. 

We also use technology extensively in the work we conduct with key stakeholders in Abu Dhabi’s economy. For example, since 2009 we have used our software to provide Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) with models detailing the direct and indirect impact that each tender application would have on Abu Dhabi’s GDP. This information has enabled ADNOC to make tender decisions based not just on the impact of such agreements on their own profits, but on the effect on the wider economy. While these modelling and analysis services are currently reserved for our in-country strategic partners, we hope to open up such programmes to international investors in the near future. 

What are the implications of Census Project 2020 for Abu Dhabi’s economic growth and development? 

AL SUWAIDI: Census Project 2020 is a UAE-wide programme that aims to provide accurate population statistics for all seven emirates. The census complements similar actions by a number of our international partners to provide accurate population statistics on a global level. This sort of information is important for both local and international businesses, as having reliable information about the size of a country’s population and its demographic breakdown is vital for understanding a market. Other information is also necessary to build viable business plans. 

Information fuels every decision that we make as humans, so as the government’s primary source of data SCAD’s work is vital. This is why we continue to have such a steadfast dedication to transparency and neutrality when it comes to data collection and analysis. We will bring this same approach to our work on the census, ensuring that what we provide is as accurate and reliable as possible, and the information available to investors both locally and abroad is useful.

How is SCAD working towards expanding internal and external stakeholders’ expertise in the field of statistical analysis?

AL SUWAIDI: When the UAE began its peaceful nuclear energy development it established an international advisory board consisting of internationally acclaimed experts to assist in the programme’s development. Following this example, we have decided to establish a similar international board of experts to advise on the statistical projects operated by SCAD. These bi-yearly meetings of global specialists will provide an important opportunity for information exchange. They will enable Abu Dhabi to benefit from the members’ collective expertise, while also enabling members of the board to observe and learn about the new processes and methodologies implemented by SCAD. Such collaboration lies at the centre of our work, and ensures that we are constantly developing new techniques in order to remain a trustworthy source of data and analysis.

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