Dubai Chamber's Khalil Haddad On The Need To Define Innovation In The UAE Before Fostering It

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On the sidelines of the Arab Innovation Forum 2018, Khalil Haddad, Director of Strategy and Development at Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry, discusses his thoughts on fostering innovation in the UAE. Noting how innovation can have different implications, Haddad says it’s important to first look at how it starts with understanding individuals and society’s basic needs, taking in the example of how startups such as Uber and Airbnb started by solving basic and simple problems. “When we start building a culture of innovation, we need to start promoting that idea- that innovation starts by solving basic needs. When you start solving the basic needs, you can come [up] with really good out of the box ideas that solve [problems] and improve the average person’s lives.” says Haddad.

As for the key challenge in bringing forth innovation in the UAE, Haddad points to “having the right people”, in terms of access to talent and skilled workforce, plus retention and talent development rate. There’s a still room for efficiency, says Haddad, as well as a need to be more consumer-driven. “Innovation will work best when it solves a consumer problem,” says Haddad, pointing to a need for a balance between “being driven by consumer needs, and driven by the future- [such as] the potential needs of the consumer.”

His tips to aspiring entrepreneurs? He reiterates the significance of looking at society’s basic issues and problems. “Start solving the basic, inconvenient problem. The simple problems that consumers face.” He also advises the importance of talking to your business’ consumers. “Most of the innovations that we’ve seen are ideas that came out of people who are talking to consumers, or consumers themselves.” And finally, he tells ‘treps that with all the hard work that comes with entrepreneurship, it's essential to have perseverance and patience.

Related: Dubai Chamber's Essa Al Zaabi On Why You Should Launch Your Startup In Dubai

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