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A workshop on public opinion polls and their role in supporting decision makers recommends development of techniques and methodologies for measuring public opinion

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A workshop on public opinion polls and their role in supporting decision makers recommends development of techniques and methodologies for measuring public opinion

Tuesday, April 26, 2011
The Department of Economic Development in Abu Dhabi organized today at the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research, a workshop entitled Public Opinion Polls and their Role in Supporting Decision-makers. Working papers were presented by the Statistics Center-Abu Dhabi, Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research, the Public Opinion Poll Center of Dubai Police Headquarters, Abu Dhabi Gallup Center, in presence of approximately 20 government and semi-government and private sector organizations. His Excellency Rashid Ali Al Zaabi, Acting Executive Director of the Planning and Statistics Division, said in an opening speech, that the process of measuring public opinion and its trends is one of the most important means on which developed states and societies rely, in order to build strategies, implement plans and the make strategic decisions. Al Zaabi noted that the Department of Economic Development in Abu Dhabi, since 2009 has adopted opinion polls as a means for monitorng and following up changes and developments in various issues in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, in order to trace and extrapolate economic developments in the emirate on the basis of reality to tailor appropriate development policies for the Emirate. Rashid Al Zaabi explained that a set of opinion polls have been selected to address a number of strategic issues at the level of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, the most important of which are those concerning confidence in the economic performance that probe opinions of individuals, establishments and companies; in addition to demand trends in the labor market, citizen families and issues of spending, saving and employment. Al Zaabi added that the process of measuring public opinion has become a tool, for formulation of predictive perspectives to address various issues in  the society, as well as, adjusting all variables and factors that negatively affect the path of sustainable development, to ensure the clarity of vision about future planning, based on reality, data and requirements.Based on these issues, the process of measuring public opinion has been developed end expanded to include, measurement of public opinion trends in industrial plants regarding performance of their facilities, in addition to gauging public opinion of investors about the transparency of foreign direct investment policies.  All that comes in tune with the Economic Vision 2030; and in line with the five-year plan for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, Rashid Al Zaabi was quotes as saying.Al Zaabi added that the workshop comes within the plan of the Development Indicators and Future Studies Section of the Studies Directorate, enlightening campaign for the community of Abu Dhabi, about the importance of active participation of the different segments of society in the process of opinion polls. In conclusion, Rashid Ali Al Zaabi stressed the keenness of the Department of Economic Development to work towards the development of the society, through interaction and real participation of the members of the population in opinion polls and surveys, which would allow them to follow up laws, regulations, events prevailing circumstances, and the extent  success and soundness  of laws and regulations, and their effects on behavior and thought of individual, so as to ensure the best and close relations  between decision makers and community members.Dr. Ahmed Al Fayeq, the Senior Economic Researcher, at the Development Indicators and Future Studies Section of the Studies Directorate, gave a presentation on the experience of Department of Economic Development in public opinion polls, explaining that opinion polls play a crucial role in supporting decision making, as materialized in reality by the experience of the Department of Economic Development.  This enthusiastically encourages others to adopt this technique in order to deepen the knowledge dimension in decisions taken.Dr Fayeq pointed out that the opinion polls culture amid groups of society is still vulnerable, which reflects negatively on participation rates of respondents in polls; and how media, people and decision makers interpret opinion polls results. Al Fayeq mentioned the absence of a comprehensive framework to govern activities related to the measurement of public opinion carried out by private sector institutions and government agencies, and organize the relationship between the various parties regarding the implementation and participation in such activities and the dissemination and use of findings and results.The Senior Researcher, Dr Fayeq, noted the importance of addressing the lack of coordination between all parties in the measurement of public opinion, which limits the exchange of information and experiences; and hampers the development of means for measuring opinion; is such a way as to expedite the building of the knowledge economy.According to Dr. Fayeq, the  limited size of public opinion  measuring activities and  the small number of related private sector institutions in the emirate, impact on the spreading, ingraining and development of techniques and methodologies of the practice.In his presentation, Dr Ahmed Al Fayeq recommended that the role of opinion polls in the decision-making process, should be emphasized, as a tributary of cognitive important in accelerating transition into the knowledge-based economy, in the context of Abu Dhabi's Vision 2030. Al Fayeq also recommended that polls culture shall be disseminated and consolidated amid all segments of the society; in order to raise the levels of participation and responding rates and improve data quality of data and results.The Senior Researcher stressed the importance of developing a framework to govern the activities related to the measurement of public opinion of various types; and manage relationships between all parties, engaged in conducting and participating in opinion polls; in addition to those who publish results and the users of opinion polls results.  Al Fayeq called for forming a joint mechanism between all actors in the field of public opinion measuring at the level of the government, the private sector, civil society organizations and academic and research institutions in order to exchange experiences and develop sound opinion polls measuring mechanism  as an important tool for establishing the principles of the knowledge economy. Dr. Al Fayeq laid emphasis on the need to explore local experiences and adopt best global practices, especially in the area of methodologies and techniques based on modern practices. In turn, Dr. Mohammed Al-Rifaie, Head of the Surveys Analysis Section of  Statistics Center - Abu Dhabi,  in his presentation highlighted the factors affecting the quality of field survey obtained data obtained from (sample survey) carried out on samples representative of the population.According to Dr. Al-Rifaie, the maintaining of high quality field data, is attained by focusing on the accuracy of the procedures and stages of the process.; it is very important to reduce and minimize possible errors of different kinds, and classify errors into observation errors, which appear as a result of the sample representation of the population; and is expressed as the difference between the estimated value of the data and the real value of the population.  . Al-Rifaie added that the second type of errors is the procedural errors that are caused by the accumulation of errors committed by all teams engaged in the survey whether at planning, preparation or implementation stages of surveys.Dr. Mohammad Al-Rifaie explained that the design of optimal sample leads to reliable high quality data, on which estimates with minimum errors could be derived, while at the same time applying optimal methods and statistical techniques in implementation of all stages of statistical processes and to ensure minimum procedural errors. Al-Rifaie confirmed that all will lead to a high quality field data, within the minimal overall errors.In her presentation, Ms. Hamda Al Shamsi, Director of the Public Opinion Poll Center of Dubai Police Headquarters, highlighted the experience of Dubai Police in public opinion polls, and their role in achieving a set of strategic objectives. Dr. Mohammed Farid Azzi, Head of the Opinion Polls Section at the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research, in his presentation reviewed the results of opinion polls from the view point of decision makers. Ms. Dalia Mogahed Director Abu Dhabi Gallup Center presentation dealt with public opinion polls pointing to many successful international experiences in this context.
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