The UAE is the world’s third most trusted country, with all four institutions, including the government, business, NGOs, and media retaining significant trust levels, a survey has revealed.

Edelman Trust Barometer, which surveys 32,000 people in 28 countries focused on innovation, found that while the world grapples with disruptive change and hesitation towards the implementation of innovative solutions to address today’s challenges, the UAE instead embraces innovation thanks to the country’s long-term focus on the issue.

“For example, the UAE was the first country in the world to appoint a minister of AI in 2017 and also establish the Mohammed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence, the first graduate level, research-based AI University in 2019,” the survey report released in Dubai on Tuesday said.

With a trust score level of 74, the UAE is third globally after China (78) and India (76). The UAE is followed by Indonesia (73), Saudi Arabia (72), Thailand (70), Malaysia (68), Singapore (67) Kenya (64), and Nigeria (61).

“Innovation is key to a thriving economy in today’s competitive world. It leads to the creation of new technologies and services that can drive a nation forward. The results of this year’s report demonstrates the remarkable impact the UAE’s focus on innovation is having. The UAE has set the pace for a culture of innovation that is evident in daily life,” said Omar Qirem, CEO, Edelman Middle East.

He said the UAE also emerges as a model for the world to follow in government and businesses partnering for change. “While the government is most trusted to integrate innovation into society, the opportunity is for business to continue to partner with the government to build even more trust in technology-led changes.”

CEOs are also expected to support changes occurring in society, not just in their business, including exploring job skills for the future (87 per cent); the impact of automation (85 per cent) and using technology for the benefit of everyone (84 per cent), said Qirem.

Respondents to the survey said innovation is well managed in the UAE and all four institutions – government, business, NGOs and media – are trusted to integrate innovation into society. Government leads the way (82 per cent), followed by business (74 per cent). Globally, business is most trusted (59 per cent), followed by NGOs (54 per cent) and government (50 per cent).

Over the past decade, demand for business-government partnerships around innovation has surged.The report noted that 76 per cent of respondents said they would trust technology-led changes in the UAE if business partners with government, compared to 60 per cent globally

On the overall index, India moved to second place from fourth in 2023, while China retained its top spot. The UK replaced South Korea as the least trusted nation. The survey also showed less trust for companies headquartered in global powers.

An estimated 63 per cent globally were found to be worried that government leaders are purposely trying to mislead people by saying things they know are false or gross exaggeration, while the figure stood at 61 per cent for business leaders and 64 per cent for journalists. Many believe that science is losing its independence to government, funders, and the political process, the survey found.

In the US, two-thirds believe science has become politicised (67 per cent) and in China, three-quarters of respondents say that governments and organisations that fund research have too much influence on how science is done (75 per cent).

Governments were found to be distrusted in 17 of the 28 countries surveyed, including the US, Germany and the UK. Media remained the least trusted institution globally and was found to be distrusted in 15 of 28 countries including the US, Japan and the UK.

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