The rise of a Smart City in the Middle East - Dubai

Dubai, one of the world’s most connected city aims to be at the forefront of not only pioneering but transforming the city into one of the smartest on the globe. Catalysed by its nation’s Smart City initiative back in 2014, Dubai is moving ahead in six focus areas – smart life, smart transportation, smart society, smart economy, smart governance and smart environment (Source: His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai) – supported with large scale projects to ensure Dubai has the right foundations in place to operate across all city layers.

What is this smart city Dubai envisions? 

Dubai is determined in creating a nation where services are integrated seamlessly into daily life while ensuring the information and its people are kept protected. A city where all its resources are optimised for maximum efficiency.

The city’s 7 year agenda through the “Dubai Plan 2021” prioritises innovation as the key driver of the economy across all sectors, striving to become the innovation benchmark for smart cities seeking global sustainability and competitiveness.

What are the benefits? 

In the long-term, the United Arab Emirates Population is projected to trend around 10.4 million by 2020 (Source: Trading Economics, United Arab Emirates Population Forecast). While population growth comes with mountainous benefits such as an increase in talent pool and rise in consumer spending, it can also cause a huge strain on resources.

As the Internet of Things gets increasingly embedded in the lives of people, evolving into a Smart City is the best way for Dubai to curb the negative consequences of urbanisation. With Dubai’s accelerated growth in their urban population, measures to improve the standards of living among its people have also become a dominant goal. Ultimately, transforming into a sustainable and efficient city will also transform from a choice to a necessity with time.

This transformation however, is supported with upcoming projects that we can keep a look out for. Upcoming projects to look out for:

1. Expo 2020

The next world expo is going to be held at Dubai in 2020 with the theme “Connecting minds, creating the future”. This will be the first time the event has been held in the Middle East. Crucial to the development and economy of Dubai with a $23 billion boost (Source: Al Taresh), this event will have a considerable impact on the economy with increased demand in services in relation to hospitality, transportation, and construction alongside various other areas that are expected to experience tremendous growth and development across the city leading up to the event in 2020.

2. Hyperloop Dubai

Dubai rides on the trend of adoption in futurist technologies and Hyperloop is one project to look out for. One is now able to imagine yourself travelling from Dubai to Abu Dhabi in just under 12 minutes. Deploying vacuum-sealed tubes, passengers can travel near supersonic speeds, making their intercity journey in just a matter of minutes. Currently, feasibility studies are being conducted to ascertain the viability of introducing 'Abu Dhabi - Dubai' and 'Abu Dhabi - Al Ain' Hyperloops (Source: Khaleej Times). The system could later be expanded to link the UAE with neighbouring Gulf countries such that a trip between Dubai and Saudi’s capital Riyadh - currently two hours by plane - could easily be completed in under 50 minutes.

3. Oasis Eco Resort

By 2021, UAE is expected to welcome 31 million international tourists. Dubai-based company – Eco Resort Group, is expected to take feasible actions in transforming Dubai into a ‘green’ economy. These environmental benefits include the recycling of waste water on site for irrigation, onsite waste management, the enforcement of a zero emission zone and 157,000 square feet of solar panels (Source: Baharash Architecture). The UAE has one of the largest carbon footprints in the world. According to the 2015 UAE State of Energy Report, in 2010 the UAE produced just under 20 tonnes of CO2 emissions per person, a 63 per cent increase from 2000. Now, Dubai is among the world’s leaders in promoting sustainable energy and the Oasis Eco Resort supports its efforts in diminishing their record-high carbon footprint.

4. Cheque Chain

Bank fraud and forgery cases have skyrocketed over the recent years. Both the police and fraud-prevention experts have advised banks and their customers in stepping up security levels and exercising utmost vigilance. Earlier this May, Emirates NBD, the largest bank in Dubai, unveiled their plans to integrate blockchain technology into their checks in line with the launch of their “Cheque Chain” initiative. This project involves the addition of printed Quick Response (QR) codes onto the bank’s checks, with each code eventually registered on the Emirates NBD blockchain to strengthen authenticity and reduce fraud.

“Cheque Chain will bring an added layer of security to our cheque clearing system, and ensure that each cheque issued will be verified under the bank’s system with its own unique QR code providing significant improvement in cheque security,” Group Chief Operating Officer of Emirates NBD, Abdulla Qassem commented.

On top of these projects, The 4th Annual Arab Future Cities Summit will be held on 30th and 31st October, 2017 in Dubai to further enhance its stance in fostering a Smart City. This event will place emphasis on the future opportunities and evolving technologies to counter the challenges faced while achieving the city’s ambitions in becoming one of the world’s most connected and sustainable “Smart Cities” – in time for Expo 2020.

What’s next

In preparation of multiple upcoming projects, organisations in Dubai will also look towards futurist technologies as well as tightening security controls to reduce any fraudulent activity. These will result in an increase of demand for talent who have specific skill-sets in relation to these projects. Will organisations look towards an increase of hiring in the near future? Is the government planning any initiatives to ensure that we have a pipeline of talent ready to undertake these upcoming projects and the way Dubai is looking to transform into?

Speak to Melissa Costa from Huxley who will be able to share with you more on the talent pool available within the financial technology sector, or advice you on the steps your organisation should take in the coming months. You may also follow us on our LinkedIn page to find out more industry related insights.

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