The General Administration of Abu Dhabi Customs has been praised by the World Customs Organization (WCO) by publishing a case study on Abu Dhabi Customs’ international best practice customs system experience in “Human Resource Management (HRM) in a customs environment during times of crisis and beyond” – WCO’s latest sector guide issued on 25 November 2021. The achievement comes within the framework of Abu Dhabi Customs’ strategic transformation plan 2019-2023 to reach the best regional and global levels in customs performance, and contribute to further developing a competitive environment in Abu Dhabi emirate.

WCO developed the guide with contributions from international organisations, customs departments, private sector consulting firms, and academia from around the world. The guide gives global comprehensive guidelines in key areas of human resources based on leadership and communication, business continuity, business model design and flexibility, learning and development, and other practices. It also aims to provide basic guidelines and recommendations to various global customs departments to support their strategic functions, enhance their organisational flexibility, in terms of managing human capital during crises and their aftermath, and adopt effective and innovative solutions. The release is an important and complementary addition to WCO’s emergency management tools (Annex J5 of the Revised Kyoto Convention) and successful transition to virtual reality training.

This achievement is attributed to guidance from Abu Dhabi’s wise leadership, and support of senior management at Abu Dhabi Customs, in moving towards a comprehensive digital transformation for a hidden customs system that offers intelligent integrated solutions. An innovative strategy has been developed and implemented to transform human resources functions into a fully automated system using the most advanced technological solutions. This has had a significant impact on changing the business model and achieving unprecedented positive results in the performance and productivity of employees, and the level of response in facing the challenges of the crisis and ensuring business continuity with great effectiveness in facilitating trade movement and maintaining the security of society.

Abu Dhabi Customs is also the first government agency in the Middle East to implement human capital management through the Oracle cloud system and the first in the world to independently certify the skills of the digital assistant for the system, where an increase of around 15 per cent has been recorded in employee productivity since adoption of the system. Oracle has also integrated and replaced 14 human resource systems, provides the use of self-service features for employees to deal with routine tasks, gives mobile device access to HR tools, and automatically updates new features every three months to maintain its compatibility with best practices and emerging technology capabilities. In addition, Abu Dhabi Customs is the only government agency in the region that uses Arabic to evaluate psychometric conversations as a feature of the behavioral assessment tool for customs officials, as well as the use of virtual reality training on operations that concern all ports. Abu Dhabi Customs took advantage of the pandemic period as an opportunity to build performance and improve employee skills, relying on realistic virtual training of all customs procedures and inspection protocols without an on-site field presence.

Rashid Lahej Al Mansoori, Director General of the General Administration of Abu Dhabi Customs, said the entity’s inclusion in the WCO guide as a successful case study supports the administration’s efforts to achieve the vision of the UAE’s wise leadership to become the best in adopting pioneering and innovative practices.

His Excellency added that the administration is keen to develop its business and achieve further excellence by working to implement its strategic plan, full readiness for digital transformation, and proactive innovative solutions to develop its human resources management, business models and services. Successful implementation of the plan would enable Abu Dhabi Customs to be among the leading customs administrations regionally and globally, in terms of international standards and customs best practices.