Driving an ambitious vision with excellence the UAE Government excellence model

Marwan Al Zaabi (Sheikh Khalifa Government Excellence Program, Prime Minister’s Office,Dubai, United Arab Emirates)

International Journal of Excellence in Government

ISSN: 2516-4384

Article publication date: 10 June 2019



Al Zaabi, M. (2019), "Driving an ambitious vision with excellence the UAE Government excellence model", International Journal of Excellence in Government, Vol. 1 No. 1, pp. 8-14. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJEG-02-2019-0004



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Marwan Al Zaabi.


Published in International Journal of Excellence in Government. Published by Emerald Publishing Limited. This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) licence. Anyone may reproduce, distribute, translate and create derivative works of this article (for both commercial and non-commercial purposes), subject to full attribution to the original publication and authors. The full terms of this licence may be seen at http://creativecommons.org/licences/by/4.0/legalcode


Based on the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, a government excellence model (GEM) has been developed to serve the ambitious vision of the UAE. This vision is for the UAE to be among the best countries in the world and keep pace with leading programs and projects implemented by the Country in the field of governmental development, service development, innovation and future shaping. It also involves coping with the modern trends in public sector administration to reach leadership position in all fields.

Since His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum became the Prime Minister of the UAE in 2006, the UAE Government has gone through major development leaps that achieved first leading position for the UAE in government efficiency and raising UAE’s ranking position in global competitiveness indexes. The GEM pillars and criteria were designed and developed based on successful practices applied by UAE Government through structured criteria that inform interested parties wishing to achieve effective leadership position about the programs, initiatives and strategies that need to be adopted and implemented. These have been included within three main pillars: the vision achievement, innovation and enablers.

The Model is adopted as a basis for assessing government entities. Therefore, with the GEM, entities can determine their level of maturity toward achieving effective leadership and can identify improvement opportunities, which will help entities in achieving their ambitious objectives. Consequently, entities will be able to express a new way of thinking based on disruptive thinking in planning, implementing and developing government work by adopting innovative principles and concepts that have been experimented and successfully implemented by the UAE Government and have proved effectiveness in achieving leading results.

About the government excellence model

The GEM represents the philosophy of organizational excellence and the leadership mentality that believes that quality and organizational excellence are key for achieving leadership and enabling effective, positive governments to shape the future. Hence, these governments will have to level up their performance standards, enhance processes and deliver value creation to build trust among citizens in the ability of government to shape and build the future.

The GEM, in analyzing the level of leadership maturity in management thinking, depends on analyzing governments’ ultimate objective, that is to achieve happiness and enhance the well-being in society. The model pursues disruptive thinking, uses transformational innovation to generate major leaps in performance that can secure the achievement of leading competitive positioning, enhancing opportunities of partnership, and ensures resilience and adaptability (Figure 1).

The GEM helps advance management thinking beyond the achievement of an end target. It considers the organization as an open system with dynamic inter-related activities supported by smart connected systems that transcend the “closed borders” of traditional management to help build multiple business models in government work. It also can promote a positive working environment and further enhance value creation and optimization to raise the level of excellence and leadership in delivering high quality services that exceed the needs and expectations of all concerned stakeholders to become a role model in best practice innovations.

The GEM supports governmental development programs as mechanisms to drive excellence in the government sector and prepare internal systems to enable institutions understand and keep abreast of the developments in an era of constant change.

Government excellence model international endorsement

The UAE has achieved a new global breakthrough in developing the UAE GEM as a global reference for supporting ambitious governments in improving their efficiency and shaping the future of their entities. This initiative embodies the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to achieve excellence and inspire the UAE’s leadership in this field.

The model was recognized to be an International Standard endorsed by representatives from nine world-leading organizations, which are:

  1. the European Organization for Quality;

  2. the Asia-Pacific Quality Organization;

  3. the Australian Quality Organization;

  4. Juran world leaders in quality improvement;

  5. the European Foundation for Quality Management;

  6. the International Academy for Quality;

  7. the American Quality Association;

  8. the Asian Network for Quality; and

  9. the University of Miami.

All endorsed GEM as a pioneering assessment approach to highlight excellence in governments. This global accreditation confirms that the GEM is a pioneering model for the formation of future-oriented, excellence-based governments that prioritize transformation through innovation and development in government work – governments that provide excellent services that ensure the happiness and well-being of society.

The UAE Government is relentlessly pushing forward the efforts for improvements and enforcement of excellence, and this has led to countless breakthroughs and the establishment of the UAE Government as a world leader in excellence.

The fundamentals of the government excellence model

The GEM is part of an evolutionary process; it is, however, revolutionary in terms of the “mindset it represents”. Its key fundamentals are based on disruptive thinking and transformational innovation, which can deliver outcomes of a superior nature. The momentum that the GEM helps to create is based on major leaps in performance. These leaps are achieved by developing stretch goals and targets and managing distinctive capabilities that can help provide differentiation and ultimately results in a leading competitive advantage. Gauging performance outcomes is made possible by putting in place a measurement system that defines the toughest standards in the world as the only worthwhile ultimate objectives.

The GEM helps to advance the management thinking to be beyond the achievement of an end target. It considers the organization as an open system with dynamic inter-related activities supported by smart systems, which extend beyond the traditional “closed boundaries”. It also helps to develop extended relationships that can further enhance value creation, allows leveraging to take place in the required areas and builds a bigger capacity for knowledge transfer, capability building, agility and adaptability readiness in an unprecedented manner.

The GEM helps ensure that excellence as an applied philosophy is integrated into the organizational culture on a sustainable basis, can be put to work in all key and support areas and can focus on the development of “means” and the delivery of “ends” in tandem. The model helps to ensure that an organization can develop in a healthy and powerful manner and allows the permeation of fresh ideas and new thinking, thus keeping the organization on the path of sustainable learning and development. It also establishes connections, which can support growth whilst ensuring resilience and adaptability.

The GEM is based on disruptive thinking and uses transformational innovation to generate major leaps in performance that can secure the achievement of leading competitive positioning. This model has, therefore, the uniqueness not only to build excellence maturity through building core and critical capabilities but also to present a method of constant disruption and to uniquely act as a compass for dynamic organizations that operated as an eco-system.

Government excellence model pillars

The GEM has been divided into three main pillars representing the basic foundations. Through these foundations, the government entity can achieve leadership position by conducting its main activities effectively to ensure the achievement of their objectives and the government’s objectives through the optimal use of resources and ongoing pursuit of learning and development. Below is a detailed explanation of the three pillars:

Vision achievement

The leading government entity works on achieving its objectives within the framework of the National Agenda, strategic plan and main functions stipulated in the Memorandum of Association. It does so through the effective and efficient design and implementation of its processes, services, programs and projects and smart shift of its services and processes to meet the requirements and exceeds the expectations of all customers, partners and the community. It also seeks to achieve the highest levels of satisfaction and happiness through integration and partnership with other government entities, private sector and the community.


The leading government entity seeks through transformational thinking to achieve continuous innovation the provision of new and innovative services, development of policies and implementation of processes and programs in creative ways. It does so to achieve the principles of social, economic and environmental sustainability over the long term. The entity also emphasize on future foresight, according to which it understands future trends that may affect their work and can benefit and utilize it proactively to achieve a leading position through its innovations.


The leading government entity provides services and implements their functions and programs through the effective and efficient management of assets and resources. It does so to ensure commitment to the highest standards of transparency, integrity, governance, effective management of strategic and operational risks and effective strategic communication to all stakeholders. The way it can achieve this is by providing a positive work environment supporting happiness and innovation to attract human resources to guarantee effective contribution toward achieving the entity’s objectives and vision.

Government excellence model criteria

First pillar: vision achievement (60 per cent)

The first pillar covers four main criteria: The National Agenda, Main Functions, Seven Stars Services and Smart Government. These criteria represents the basis of all government mandate through which all government entities work together to achieve the vision of the government and ultimately achieve happiness and well-being of the society. Applying these criteria on any government entity will depend on its nature of activity and mandate, which is provided for its memorandum of association, and which defines the entity as either service entity, regulatory/supervisory entity, or a government support entity. In addition, applying these criteria depends on the extent of the entity’s contribution to achieving the objectives and fulfilling the indicators of the National Agenda:

  • The First Main Criterion: National Agenda.

  • The Second Main Criterion: Main Functions.

  • The Third Main Criterion: Seven Stars Services.

  • The Fourth Main Criterion: Smart Government.

Second pillar: innovation (20 per cent)

The second pillar consists of two criteria: future shaping and innovation management. Applicability of each of these criteria depends on the nature of activity of the government entity. These criteria help the entity to shape the future, identify the most significant ambiguities in its surrounding, and determine how these ambiguities impact its activity. The pillar of innovation focuses on the extent to which the entity carries out its innovation strategy. This includes developing and implementing innovative leading initiatives directly related to the entity’s core business, processes, services and programs that secure to the government entity achieving its strategic objectives and delivering the highest quality services to achieve customers’ and stakeholders’ happiness:

  • The Fifth Main Criterion: Future Shaping.

  • The Sixth Main Criterion: Innovation Management.

Third pillar: enablers (20 per cent)

The pillar of enablers consists of three criteria: human capital, assets and resources, and governance. The government entity implements these criteria subject to its mandate, taking into account the quality and quantity of resources and allocated assets, which the entity innovatively makes, use of, manages and develops:

  • The Seventh Main Criterion: Human Capital.

  • The Eighth Main Criterion: Assets and Resources.

  • The Ninth Main Criterion: Governance.

The assessment approach

The assessment approach in the GEM is divided of two main sections:

  1. assessment of capabilities; and

  2. assessment of results.

Capabilities are assessed using three main criteria:

  1. effectiveness;

  2. efficiency; and

  3. learning and development.

Results are assessed using four main criteria:

  1. comprehensiveness and usability;

  2. achievement of results;

  3. performance development; and

  4. leading position.

Each criterion is detailed below.

Capabilities assessment criteria


The leading government entity designs and implements policies, plans, systems, programs, processes, services, projects, initiatives, etc. (capabilities) that fulfill the needs and demands of all stakeholders and stimulate their active engagement. This has to be in line with the nature of activities and mandate of the entity, and has also to be in compliance with the best practices. Implementation of all of these leads to positive results that effectively contribute to the strategy of the entity, to the strategy of the government and to the National Agenda, as well as adds up value to all stakeholders.


The leading government entity, when implementing policies, plans, systems, programs, processes, services, projects, initiatives, etc., takes into account that implementation of such capabilities needs to guarantee optimal utilization of different resources (human, technical, hardware, premises, etc.). Implementation must also guarantee rationalized spending in a way that defines spending priorities to meet the needs and serve the best interests of stakeholders, and that eliminates expenses that bring no value for stakeholders.

Learning and development

The leading government entity continuously improves its policies, plans, systems, action programs, processes, services, projects, initiatives, etc. using creative ideas and innovative approaches based on learning outcomes obtained from the performance results of the entity, the best practices, and active participation of stakeholders.

Results assessment criteria

Comprehensiveness and usability

The leading government entity offers accurate and sufficient information that cover the required scope for the decision makers and all stakeholders at different levels, that reflect the progress in achieving the National Agenda/strategy and in capabilities performance (such as policies, plans, systems, action programs, processes, services, projects and initiatives), and that helps in predicting the entity’s future performance through an integrated system of performance indicators and perception and happiness measurements (impact, outcome and output results) that correspond to the mandate of entity, covering all fields that the entity needs to measure and focusing on the impact and final results.

Achievement of results

The leading government entity sets reasonable and ambitious targets for the indicators and perception and happiness measurements (impact, outcome and output results), thereby winning a competitive advantage, setting the pace of challenges for employees and motivating the entity to work hard to achieve those targets.

Performance development

The leading government entity continuously achieves improvement in its performance results due to effectively learning from previous performances, learning from the best practices and capitalizing on effective development and innovation in the entity.

Leading position

The leading government entity reaches leading global positions in the field of its work activities due to the outstanding achieved results. It also contributes, through the results it achieves, in placing the country/government in leading positions in international rankings, indices and reports.



UAE Government Model (GEM) Guidebook, Version 2 (2018), “Sheikh Khalifa government excellence program (SKGEP)”, Prime Minister’s Office – Ministry of Cabinet Affairs and Future.


Authorization is sought and approval is obtained as part of the International Promotion of GEM and in support of the UAE Government International Advocacy Strategy.

Disclosure statement: The author is a Senior Advisor or Employee to the UAE government. This article has not been subject to double blind peer review.

Corresponding author

Marwan Al Zaabi can be contacted at: marwan.alzaabi@pmo.gov.ae

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