In 1968, while studying at the Mons Officer Cadet School in the United Kingdom, I needed to visit a hospital. There I met a doctor who, to my surprise, spoke fluent Arabic. I learned that he was new to the UK [United Kingdom], so I asked if he intended to stay long or return home. He replied with an Arabic saying that translates as: “My home is where I can eat.”

That doctor’s words stayed with me for many years, because they underscored the contradiction between our idealized view of “home” and the harsh realities of life that push talented people to leave their homes.

The doctor was a classic case of the “brain drain” phenomenon that has afflicted developing countries for decades. These countries spend scarce resources educating doctors, engineers, and scientists, in the hope that they will become engines of prosperity. Then we watch with dismay as they migrate to the West, taking with them the promise of their talent.

It is, of course, everyone’s right to choose a better life, wherever in the world they wish. We understand why they go. Talent is drawn – like a magnet – to opportunity.

For the countries left behind, however, it feels like an endless vicious cycle: they need talent to create opportunity; but without opportunity, talent gravitates to the bright lights of the West. Indeed, the United Nations and the OECD [The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development] report that migration for work has risen by one-third since 2000. One in nine university graduates from Africa now lives and works in the West. Many will not return: skilled workers are six times more likely to stay away.

But now something remarkable is happening. In some countries, the brain drain has reversed its flow. The causes are fascinating, and there is reason to be optimistic that the vicious cycle can be broken, transforming the balance of hope and opportunity between developing and developed economies.

A new study by LinkedIn, the world’s largest online professional network and recruitment platform, has measured the net international movement of talent among its members. Topping the list as a destination for talent is my own country, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), with a net talent gain of 1.3Pct of the workforce in 2013. Other net “talent magnets” include Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, South Africa, India, and Brazil.

Most interesting, less than one-third of net talent importers are developed countries. In fact, the top talent exporters in this study are Spain, the UK, France, the United States, Italy, and Ireland. Rich countries that until recently had been tempting away our brightest minds are now sending us their own.

Of course, this is only one study, and many poor countries still suffer from a chronic talent exodus. The OECD data show that many countries in Africa and Latin America have migration rates for graduates above 50Pct. 

We do know that brain drain is often a function of safety and security as much as economic opportunity. Part of the tragedy playing out in Middle Eastern countries beset by conflict and instability is that if only their most talented sons and daughters could apply their skills at home, they would become part of the solution: agents of peace through development. This makes it all the more important to examine how some developing countries succeeded in reversing the outward flow.

The basic ingredient is opportunity. Talent flows naturally to countries that create an environment for economic growth; that make life easy for enterprise; that attract and welcome investment; and that nurture a culture of achievement. Skills are attracted to challenge and possibility.

Opportunity on this scale is becoming a scarce commodity in many parts of the West. But this is not the case in the developing world – at least among countries with the appetite and determination to deploy strong governance and continually raise their competitiveness.

Second, quality of life matters greatly. A generation ago, many talented individuals would consider working outside the West a “hardship posting.” Today, standards of living in the UAE, for example, are among the highest in the world. We have shown that the business of reversing brain drain is also the business of creating a better life for citizens and residents. Building happiness is, after all, the primary business of good government everywhere.

Ours is a story of great hope for the Middle East in particular, where generations of conflict and despair have driven high levels of outward migration. I have always argued that, besides good governance, the best solutions to the divisions and strife of the Arab world lie in grassroots development and economic opportunity. Now, we have shown that it is possible to reverse the forces that had driven away our most talented young people.

Another source of hope is that this turnaround can happen remarkably quickly. Research shows that small countries suffer disproportionately from brain drain. But we have shown that even for a small country like the UAE, and even in a region divided by conflict, it is worth building an island of opportunity.

But let me be clear: reversing brain drain is about more than plugging a leak. It means turning a vicious cycle into a virtuous one. By attracting the best talent from around the world, we can create a vibrant and diverse society that fuels innovation and prosperity – which in turn attracts still more talent.

To make this work, we must believe in people. Human beings – their ideas, innovations, dreams, and connections – are the capital of the future. In this sense, the “brain regain” is not so much an achievement in itself as it is a leading indicator of development, because where great minds go today, great things will happen tomorrow.


 

This article is exclusively provided to EBR by Project Syndicate


2nd Year . July 2014 . No.16


Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum

Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is also Constitutional Monarch of Dubai

40 comments

  • RobertCip

    drug stores in canada
    buy viagra
    ed pills online
    44-466 green pill
    cialis no prescription

    RobertCip Saturday, 21 October 2017 19:48 Comment Link
  • HarlanClode

    can you buy levitra online
    buy levitra
    cialis viagra levitra sale
    buy levitra
    buy levitra pen

    HarlanClode Saturday, 21 October 2017 00:28 Comment Link
  • Agustinatore

    standard twin mattress size inches mattresses in bangor maine top rated air mattress 2015 best memory foam mattress for the money 2016
    mattress toppers firm costco mattress sale 2016 mattress firm reviews phoenix consumer reviews mattresses ratings
    consumer reports best mattress 2015 memory foam mattress reviews chart comparison mattress firm online/syncb payment top rated firm mattresses 2016

    10 top mattress pad 2016 casper mattress reviews 2014 twin mattress toppers for sale 2015 top rated crib mattresses
    mattresses on sale near me best mattress topper for sleeper sofa 3 memory foam mattress topper walmart best mattress 2017 consumer reports
    macys mattress sale queen size 2015 best mattress reviews 2017 mattress stores niceville fl walmart gel foam mattress topper

    Agustinatore Friday, 13 October 2017 07:54 Comment Link
  • Agustinatore

    mattresses on sale this week in rapid city sd mattresses made in massachusetts costco mattresses 2016 memory foam mattress topper reviews 2015
    consumer reports 2017 best queen mattresses measurement twin size mattress 2016 mattresses reviews mattress topper memory foam reviews
    memory foam mattress toppers on sale mattress stores pasadena ca usa mattress sizes mattress stores in nicholasville ky

    mattresses for sale in houston top rated mattresses for bad backs 2017 twin size mattresses prices serta mattresses at menards
    measurements for a full size mattress best foam mattresses 2015 mattress review 2017 mattress stores near me 30019
    best crib mattresses 2015 consumer report best mattresses 2016 mattress pad reviews 2017 twin mattresses sets on sale clearance

    Agustinatore Friday, 13 October 2017 06:17 Comment Link
  • DanielRoN

    viagra little blue pill
    viagra pill
    where to buy viagra malaysia
    generic viagra
    viagra sales in china

    DanielRoN Thursday, 12 October 2017 04:33 Comment Link
  • Justinmycle

    buy viagra 25mg online
    viagra coupons 75 off
    price real viagra
    cheap viagra
    sildenafil price philippines

    Justinmycle Wednesday, 11 October 2017 17:01 Comment Link
  • KevinWow

    no prescription pharmacy
    viagra online canadian pharmacy

    drug shops
    viagra online from canada

    purchase viagra in canada

    KevinWow Wednesday, 11 October 2017 16:15 Comment Link
  • JamesGassy

    how to car insurance

    car insurance for

    car insurance in gacar insurance ma
    auto insurance

    what the cheapest car insurancecar insurance in

    JamesGassy Monday, 09 October 2017 17:17 Comment Link
  • AnthonyBroob

    how to get viagra out of your system
    Viagra 50mg
    comprar sildenafil online
    Viagra 100 mg
    indian price viagra

    AnthonyBroob Thursday, 05 October 2017 14:53 Comment Link
  • CameronNot

    canada meds viagra
    ed treatment medications

    viagra canadian online pharmacy

    canadian
    the canadian pharmacy

    CameronNot Wednesday, 04 October 2017 15:44 Comment Link

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter the (*) required information where indicated.Basic HTML code is allowed.

Latest News

Ethiopia to Host the 4th International Coffee Conference

Ethiopia to Host the 4th International Coffee Conference

Ethiopia is set to host the 4th International Coffee Conference from March 6 – 8, 2016 in Addis Ababa at the United Nations Conference Center. Previous conferences were held  in England in 2001, Brazil in 2005 and Guatemala in 2010. Read more

Tweets


ሰበር ዜና ብሄራዊ ባንክ ከነገ ጀምሮ የብር ምንዛሪ ተመንን በ15% እንዲገሽብ ውሳኔ አስተላለፈ፡፡ በተጨማሪም የገንዘብ ማስቀመጫ ወለድን ከ5% ወደ 7% ከፍ እንዲል ውሳኔ... https://t.co/fab8ZVRMVa

Breaking News National Bank of Ethiopia will depreciate the exchange rate of birr against a basket of foreign... https://t.co/1JPgVHEv1E
Follow EBR News on Twitter

Most Popular

  • 1
  • 2
Prev Next

The White-Box of Ethiopian Agriculture

The agricultural sector remains our Achilles heel, nonetheless, we remain convinced that agricultural-based development remains the only source of hope ...

Read more

For Whoever Has, to Him Shall be Given …

As the Ethiopian government seeks to transform the economy into one that’s rooted in manufacturing, the simplicity for local investors to access finance...

Read more

Commentary

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
Prev Next

Shooting in the Dark: The Anomalies of Headhunting

The war for ‘heads’ – also known as talent – has been raging for many years and the manner headhunters ‘poach’ people is getting tougher ...

Read more

Understanding Chinese Investment in Ethiopia A Critical Evaluation of the World Bank’s “Chinese FDI in Ethiopia” Survey

The World Bank country office in Ethiopia, apparently in response to the request by the government of Ethiopia, has conducted a survey of...

Read more

Mitigating Growing Income Inequality: What Needs to Be Done

Rising income and wealth inequality in many countries around the world has been a long-term trend for three decades or more. But the atte...

Read more

View Point

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
Prev Next

Delivering Life Insurance: The Untapped Market in Ethiopia

Modern insurance transaction in Ethiopia was started by an Egyptian Bank in 1905. According to Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce there were 19, 33 and 40 insuran...

Read more

Headache When a Key Personnel leaves a Company in the Financial Sector

The financial sector in Ethiopia has undergone considerable changes in recent decades. The dramatic rise of new market players into the sector has vividly al...

Read more

Women and the World Economy

In many countries, public debate about gender equality focuses mainly on women’s access to top positions and high-powered career opportunities. But the “glas...

Read more