Monday, June 13, 2011

"Abu Dhabi Statistics" Organizes a Lecture on the Latest

Statistics Centre - Abu Dhabi (SCAD) recently organized lecture
entitled "Critical Developments in Official Statistics" by Prof. Paul

Cheung Director of the Statistics Division of the United Nations,

in the Saker Hall Fairmont Hotel Abu Dhabi, as part of a series

of specialized lectures in statistics, organized in the context of

SCAD’s strategic initiative for promotion of statistical awareness.

The lecture was attended by HE Butti Ahmed Mohammed Bin

Butti Al Qubaisi, Director General of Statistics Centre - Abu Dhabi,

HE Rashid Al Suwaidi, Director General of the National Bureau

of Statistics and a number of the members of SCAD’s Advisory

Committee and senior officials, besides representatives from

various local departments and government bodies and a crowd of

researchers and statisticians.

SCAD welcomed the lecturer, pointing out that he is one of the

most prominent statistical experts in Singapore, and serves as

Director of the United Nations Statistics Division. Prof. Cheung

organized the first-ever

World Day of Statistics, on 20/10/2010, with the active participation

of more than 140 countries and 40 organizations worldwide. This

occasion will be observed annually.

The Economic Crisis

At the outset Prof. Cheung praised the tremendous development in

the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and the emirate’s success in overcoming

the global financial crisis. In fact Prof. Cheung used this approach

to shed light on some global issues and the way they are affected

by statistics, focusing on the economic crisis and pointing out that

developed countries are not equally successful in navigating their

way through the crisis, while some developing nations have shown

stronger indicators of success in overcoming the crisis.

Looming crises

According to Professor Cheung, there are some new crises

looming on the economic horizon, such as a "currency war" and

the protectionist policy pursued by some states, triggering serious

problems at the international level. The lecturer also touched

on the strategic issue of food security, which is one of the most

important problems facing humanity, adding that climate change is

another potential source of international crises.

Development in the Middle East

Prof. Paul Chung was especially interested in throwing light

on development issues in the Middle East. He remarked that

the Middle East is one of the areas least affected by the global

financial crisis compared to other regions of the world, citing the

region's limited ties to global markets, which keeps it at bay from a

host of economic risks.

Prof. Cheung explained that there are many challenges

confronting world countries in the implementation of their

development policies, such as drawing appropriate plans to secure

national interests in the face of globalization, as the success

of every country in the managing globalization and addressing

the intense competition is a major determinant for the future of

that country. In this regard countries need to work on increasing

efficiency and encourage innovation and creativity.

World’s top financial centres

In a ranking of the world financial centres, United Nations official,

Prof. Paul Cheung showed that London was in the forefront,

followed by New York, Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo.

Prof. Cheung also shed the spotlight on the key drivers of

sustainable development in a turbulent world, emphasizing the

need for responsive, unified and smart governments and calling

for re-examination of the government role, with government

intervention being seen as necessary as in risk and crisis

management. He also stressed the need to enhance the resilience

of the domestic economy, nurture new economic engines and build

strong institutions and infrastructures.

According to Prof. Cheung, this requires building an effective

national information and official statistics system as key strategic

driver of competitiveness. It is also important to ensure that data

are aggregated and analyzed for quick decision support, which in

turn requires the “one government” paradigm.

The role of official statistics

Prof. Cheung stressed to the role of official statistics as the

source of strategic information for decision-making and an aid in

rapid assessment of sectoral performance, forecasting and early

warning, monitoring of risks and vulnerabilities, including the risks

and contingencies associated with computers.

The credibility of statistics bureaus

Prof. Cheung for professional further added that credibility of

centres require the availability of certain basic criteria, such as

independence, trustworthiness, accountability and transparency

and statistical soundness and accessibility, stressing the need for

an institutional framework for the collection and dissemination of

data, in addition to the coordination of statistical activities in the

country to minimize duplication in the collection of statistics.

Modern techniques

Professor Cheung discussed some of the latest methods of

collecting statistical data, which include Internet based surveys

and database updating and data capture imaging techniques. He

emphasized the role of information technology in bringing about

the aspired development in data collection and analysis through a

high level system for the management, storage and integration of

information with maps and geographic platforms.

Prof. Cheung reviewed the key and latest approaches in the areas

of economic and social statistics as applied to the world population

census programme in 2010, as well as to the consumer price index

and household surveys.

Measure of welfare

Prof. Cheung pointed out that the GDP is not a sufficient indicator

of as a measure of economic well-being, adding that the United

Nations looks prefers to look at the indicators of income and

consumption rather than production in measuring the levels

of well-being. The lecturer also drew attention to the need to

distinguish between the current assessment of well-being and the

assessment of its sustainability.

Prof. Cheung concluded the lecture with a discussion of

environmental statistics and the most important global

environmental issues such as the strong impacts of climate

change, with a focus on the challenges facing statistical work in

the first half of the 21st century, the daunting efforts needed to

cope with rapid developments of the modern era and the need

to act proactively, taking advantage of electronic analysis and

classification capabilities.

Finally, the lecturer answered questions from the audience and

praised the efforts and achievements of Statistics Centre - Abu

Dhabi in the service of all sectors of development in the emirate,

adding that the centre has made substantial achievements

recently. According to Prof. Cheung SCAD plan is ambitious and

achievable if the Centre progresses at the same pace.

Cooperation with the United Nations

In conclusion HE Butti Ahmed Mohammed Bin Butti Al Qubaisi,

Director General of Statistics Centre - Abu Dhabi thanked Prof.

Paul Cheung the valuable lecture, re-iterating the Centres desire

to for continued cooperation with the United Nations Statistics

Division (UNSD), praising the UNSD’s role of the Division in

supporting the development of the global statistical system, setting

of international statistical standards, dissemination of statistical

data and provision of technical advice to member countries on the

development of national statistical systems, plus a range of other

important activities. HE Al Qubaisi also indicated that SCAD will

continue to organize similar lectures in the context of the Centre’s

initiative for the promotion statistical awareness.

HE Al Qubaisi remarked that the lecture highlighted the importance

of official statistics as a source of government data, emphasizing

their role in nurturing the culture of excellence among individuals

and organizations alike, by highlighting the challenges that hinder

development. including the need to maintain a high degree of

appropriateness of policies to the actual needs in the area of

official statistics, and the introduction of new methods of data

collection method and the official statistics, using advanced

techniques to improve the quality and efficiency of statistical

production and dissemination, with the importance of analyzing the


Statistics Centre - Abu Dhabi had begun a series of lectures last

February with a lecture on "official statistics", by Professor Brian

Pink Chief Statistician of the government of Australia and Director

of the Australian Bureau of Statistics, who presented the lecture

during an official visit to Statistics Centre - Abu Dhabi.

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