"Projects of the 50" will make UAE top global hub for coders, experts say

The UAE's plans to boost the coding workforce could make it a global leader in coding and fostering digital talent

Dubai skyline with Burj Khalifa and Sheikh Zayed Road Interchange, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Dubai skyline with Burj Khalifa and Sheikh Zayed Road Interchange, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

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The “100 Coders Every Day” campaign aims to add 3,000 coding specialists every month to the UAE workforce, increasing their number from 64,000 to 100,000 within a year, as announced in September by Omar bin Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications.

Across the emirates, experts in the digital and cyber space say the move will help the country secure its position as a digital-first economy.

“In very basic terms, it will place the UAE at the top of the list in terms of coding and digital developments in the region and definitely among top five spots in the world,” Amir Kolahzadeh, CEO of UAE-based cyber security firm ITSEC, told Zawya.

“The impact of this initiative is far-reaching,” he said, “as many entrepreneurs are developing e-commerce and e-platforms to innovate in brick-and-mortar business models. This will have a wide impact economically across many sectors.”


The move followed an announcement in July, when His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, launched the National Program for Coders. This series of initiatives aims to develop talent and expertise and foster innovation in the field of coding.

Under the programme, coders of all nationalities and age groups are eligible to apply for the UAE Golden Visa, which offers 10 years of residency within the country. Apart from coding experts, candidates can include talented professionals who work for pioneering international technology companies and graduates with degrees in computer science, software engineering, information technology, artificial intelligence, data science, electrical engineering or hardware engineering.

The minister also promised specific agendas for female coders, saying: “We want to have the highest percentage of female coders per capita in the world within the next five years. Female coders are at the heart of this transformation. Through this programme, we’re going to create upskilling programmes for female talent in the UAE.”

According to Kolahzadeh, the initiative will not only boost the country’s digital talent pool but also nurture a generation of young coders who can protect the UAE against the growing global threat of cyber-attacks as the country pursues a digitally led future. “Any evolution in the development of digital transformation talent will, of course, assist in [a country] being more secure.”


The “Projects of the 50” is a series of developmental and economic initiatives marking the anniversary of the UAE’s founding in 1971 and outlining its vision for the next 50 years. The aim is to “make the UAE the global capital of investment and economic creativity, an integrated incubator for entrepreneurship and emerging projects, and an advanced laboratory for new economic opportunities,” as Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology Sultan al-Jaber stated during a media briefing in September.

Akash Jain, Principal Analyst at research and advisory company Gartner, sees the coding initiative as one of the key announcements to emerge from the set of plans. “Today, artificial intelligence, blockchain, IoT [Internet of Things], cybersecurity, and the cloud are what steel was a century ago. This is a bold step by the UAE government and highlights the increasing importance of technology skills.”

According to Jain, the initiative has the potential to build a huge talent pool capable of driving the digitisation of government services, ensuring security from cyber threats (as a part of national defence), and establishing the UAE as a global innovation hub.

“It will enable them to create an ecosystem of architects who design these solutions, engineers who can build these solutions, and companies that scale and market these solutions to the world,” he said. “It will also inspire students, professionals, and corporations to upskill and [achieve] the technical maturity needed to survive in the modern world. The programme can encourage large technology corporations to establish offices within the UAE, resulting in more revenues and opportunities for the youth. Techies or coders tend to have very different preferences as compared to a normal citizen.”

“They tend to thrive in a culture which is open, transparent, and less prohibitive,” Jain added. “This move can not only bring about digitisation but also a cultural change within society.”

( Reporting by Jennifer Webster; editing by Seban Scaria)


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