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20 June 2024

Dubai government departments: Prioritising change

By Majorie van Leijen

When His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, acceded power in 2006, he inherited institutions such as Dubai Municipality, the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) and departments such as the Department of Economic Development and Dubai Customs, one of the first institutions of the emirate.

However, since his accession, a lot has changed in the government sector. In the same year, the Road and Transport Authority (RTA) was formed. Initially an arm of Dubai Municipality, this authority was now a public entity responsible for all aspects of infrastructure in Dubai.

The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) was another new child. What was previously the Department of Health and Medical Services became a much more integrated health regulatory body following the directives of His Highness in 2007.

The Knowledge and Human Development Authority was established in 2006 by a decree of Sheikh Mohammed, as was the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA) in 2007, the Community Development Authority (CDA) in 2008, and Dubai Culture and Arts Authority in 2008, to name a few.

More notably, in 2013 Sheikh Mohammed initiated Dubai Smart Government, which was previously Dubai eGovernment, urging all government departments to walk in line with the developments of the smart technology era.

Dubai Health Authority

A lot has changed in the healthcare industry since 2006. Necessitated by a growing population was the growth of healthcare availability. In the period between 2008 and 2012, the number of hospitals shot up from 22 to 28, while healthcare centres were increased from 1,075 to 1,608 in the emirate.

Over the same time, the number of hospital beds grew from 3,155 to 3,857 in 2012, while the number of general practitioners went up from 4,145 to 5,618 and the number of nurses increased from 8,379 to 11,238.

Although the DHA encourages growth in the public and private sector alike, it holds a fair share in contributing to this growth. Before 2025, DHA expects to build three new government hospitals, namely Mohammed bin Rashid Hospital located on Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road, Al Maktoum Hospital in the area of Al Maktoum Airport in Jebel Ali, and Al Khawaneej Hospital, in addition to 40 more healthcare centres including primary health centres operating around the clock to keep up with rising demand resulting from Dubai’s urban growth.

Rashid Hospital, which was built in 1973, will be renovated to include three towers with a capacity of 300 beds per tower. Further, 160 beds will be added to the building handling accident cases.

However, one of the most notable initiatives taken in the healthcare field is implementing a mandatory health insurance scheme, which is about to be rolled out this year. With the aim of making healthcare available for everybody, Sheikh Mohammed approved the Health Insurance Law in November 2013. Citizens, residents, and visitors to Dubai are not permitted to be present in Dubai without a minimum health insurance cover.

Dubai Municipality

Perhaps the most conventional governing body of any city, Dubai Municipality (DM) was established in 1954 by the then crown prince of Dubai, Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum. In June last year, the Technical Committee held its 1,000th meeting, where all projects for Dubai were presented, discussed, and approved.

With a long list of DM departments, many such projects have been under the eyes of municipality officials, contributing to the vibrant city Dubai is today. Some exciting projects are under scrutiny, under design, or under construction as we speak.

A new home for the animals of Dubai under the name Dubai Safari will be opened in Al Warqa by the end of this year. The 396 hectares premise will accommodate animals from different continents, in addition to an open safari, butterfly park, golf courses, entertainment and recreational areas.

The area is set to become the new wildlife neighbourhood, as it will also host the first Crocodile Park in the region. A total of 200 crocodiles from different parts of the world will be housed once the park is completed in 2015.

By September next year, Dubai will see the addition of the Holy Quran Park, where all plants mentioned in the Holy Qur’an and available in the UAE will be showcased. The 60 hectare park will be located in Al Khawaneej. Meanwhile, construction has started on the Dubai Frame, an aesthetic icon to be erected in Zabeel Park, representing a connection between the past and present while forming an attraction point in the area.

Also expected in the near future are a Maritime Museum, Mini World Garden, five new public parks and a renovated fish market in the old part of Dubai.

Smart government

Dubai ranks 7th best in the world as a provider of e-government services. With a longstanding presence of government institutions online, Sheikh Mohammed last year took one step further, transforming Dubai eGovernment into Dubai Smart Government.

“We have succeeded in promoting a modern concept of a creative e-government, and today we are proceeding towards a government which will provide its services via mobile phone, building on the fact that we have the best communications infrastructure in the world with nearly 14 million mobile phone subscribers, and an average of two mobile phones for each person,” Sheikh Mohammed said in May 2013.

Following his directives, all government departments and institutions presented their short and long-term plans to realise a smart government at Gitex 2013, and ever since, many apps have been added to the market.

A couple of months later, he announced the Smart City project. Sheikh Mohammed explained: “The project aims to provide all Dubai residents with high speed internet in public places and ‘live’ services and information.”

Noting that the fibre optic network and high-speed wireless internet will form the backbone of a new life in the city of Dubai, he promised that its residents would soon be able to transact with public departments using the smartphones any time, any day of the year.