In preparation for the next 50 years, HE Abdullah bin Touq Al-Marri, Minister of Economy, and HE Dr. Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, Chairman of the Department of Community Development - Abu Dhabi, discussed the partnership between the two entities to develop the cooperative ecosystem in the country and achieve integration at the federal and local levels in this regard, in line with the vision of the wise leadership, and transform the contribution of the cooperative sector to the growth of the economy and community.

During his visit to the headquarters of the Department of Community Development -Abu Dhabi, HE Mugheer Al Khaili and the Department's team were briefed on the strategic plan designed by the Ministry to develop the cooperative sector and improve its performance during the next phase, in line with international best practices.The two parties discussed ways to cooperate towards its implementation.HE Al Khaili also listened to the Department's views on partnership frameworks to support the Ministry's strategy to develop proactive and flexible legislation that will further enable the cooperative model, diversify its activities and work fields, and enhance its contribution to the growth of the UAE non-oil GDP, thus supporting the diversity and competitiveness of the national economy and increasing its flexibility and sustainability.

The two parties discussed ways to enhance the integration and coordination between the two entities and the various concerned partners during the next phase to support initiatives and projects arising from the Ministry's strategy for the cooperative sector for the next 50 years, and to develop a legislative environment and formulate an integrated government policy that ensures a greater role for cooperative action in achieving the UAE sustainable development goals.

HE Abdullah bin Touq Al-Marri, Minister of Economy, said: "The cooperative sector is an important lever of the national economy and has a significant role in achieving the goals of sustainable economic and social development of the country, especially by adopting the concepts of smart savings and social investment. Today, the Ministry of Economy has  an ambitious strategic plan to develop cooperatives in the country as a driver of economic diversity and competitiveness, while enhancing the return on society and maintaining its cooperative identity. We are keen to share this strategy with the Ministry's partners, especially the Department of Community Development - Abu Dhabi, review their insights and ideas for its development and discuss ways of cooperation towards its implementation".

"The UAE has come a long way in developing its cooperative ecosystem. Today, it is one of the leading countries in cooperative action in the region. However, the government vision of the sector aims at making a substantial transformation in the sector's work to compete with the best international experiences. At the current stage, we focus on collaborating with partners to develop proactive and flexible government legislation and policies that stimulate the growth of cooperatives and enhance their readiness for the next 50 years, increase the number of cooperatives and expand their fields of work to include various and new sectors, such as financial services, digital activities, education, health, industry, agriculture and food, increasing employment opportunities for citizens in cooperatives, and encouraging an innovative cooperative culture as a parallel model to support the economic and social growth in the country", he added.

HE Dr. Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, Chairman of the Department of Community Development -Abu Dhabi, said: "The efforts of the UAE, represented by the Ministry of Economy, to promote the cooperative sector system, which falls under the umbrella of the third sector, will contribute significantly to supporting an innovative and effective presence in order to advance the economic and social development of the country. This will advance the aspired prosperity of citizens and residents. We work with local and federal entities to provide a decent life for the community as a whole by providing new opportunities that represent a sustainable future through this strategy and legislative framework that will be central to support progress and leadership in this vital sector".

Al-Khaili outlined that the cooperative ecosystem is an important sector that supports the community, through its community responsibilities and duties in order to achieve optimal integration between the public, private and third sectors. This step will lead to supporting local products, which will benefit the consumer members of the community by providing a package of incentives and facilities that create appropriate opportunities for all segments of society. Our meeting today with HE Abdullah bin Touq, Minister of Economy, is an important opportunity for research and exchange of experiences and to study solutions that contribute to the development of the cooperative sector ecosystem to draw future plans based on the integration of various sectors".

H.E.Al Khaili welcomed creating a task force that includes members from both sides to support initiatives and projects related to the development of the cooperative ecosystem, enhance community responsibility and contribution by charities, and organize the non-profit sector by classifying companies that have social objectivesThe two parties reviewed the main statistics of the cooperative sector in the UAE. As at the end of 2019, the number of shareholders in the cooperatives stood at 95,000, with a growth rate of 4% compared to 2018 and a cumulative growth rate of 76% compared to 2011. The Emirate of Abu Dhabi has the largest number of cooperatives in the country, amounting to 19 cooperatives, with 163 branches and sales outlets, out of 42 cooperatives in all emirates, having 250 branches and sales outlets.

H.E. bin Touq and HE Al Khaili reviewed the global developments. The number of cooperatives worldwide amounted to 3 million, including a total 1 billion members and creating around 280,000 job opportunities, which account for about 10% of the total workforce around the world. 3 billion people benefit from the services of cooperatives in various countries. The revenues of the world's 300 largest cooperatives are estimated at about $2 trillion.

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