Driving UAE towards a technology superhighway

Dubai is on the fast lane towards becoming a super tech city in the years to come thanks to some of the recent initiatives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

As the emirate observes the tenth anniversary of Sheikh Mohammad's accession, here's a look at how he has managed to drive along Dubai en-route to be one of the technologically advanced cities in the coming years.

It started off with the e-government initiative that aimed at introduction of all major public services online. All major public and government departments were advised to get their services listed for public access at the click of the mouse.

The strategy then moved onto m-government and aimed at providing the services from a customer’s perspective through the concept of a connected government with the latest mobile applications.

It was in line with its commitment to fulfil the vision of Sheikh Mohammed towards achieving government integration and facilitating government transactions so as to contribute to establishing Dubai’s pioneering position in a knowledge-based economy.

The next level of policy imitative came with the introduction of the Dubai Smart Government Establishment (DSGE) is a pioneering initiative in the region to provide innovative smart government services to all sections of society.

Among its tasks were proposing the general strategy of the smart government; overseeing smart transformation processes at the level of government entities; reviewing government entities' plans and budgets related to smart transformation, IT, smart services and infrastructure; and proposing the legislation necessary for easing the smart transformation process.

DSGE officially directs and supervises the implementation of electronic and smart transformation in Dubai Government.

Meanwhile, Dubai is all set to attain the status of being one of the smartest cities in the world in the next three years. During a recent IOT World Forum that was held in Dubai it was also revealed that the world would see about  40 to 80 billion connected objects by 2020 with IOT alone attracting investments between $1.2 trillion to $13.3 trillion.

As the Etisalat CEO Ahmad Zulfar put it, the idea is to improve the quality of life and quality of business. "It is ultimately about people being happy. We are not doing it for the sake of technology but for the sake of people," he said stressing the point that telecom providers would play a crucial role in this development.

One of the key strategies of Sheikh Mohammad is to ensure that residents of United Arab Emirates and Dubai in particular lived a happy life.

To measure happiness the ‘Happiness Meter’ was introduced to send daily reports to decision makers that will enable them to monitor the types of government services that people are most happy about, and identify the geographical areas where these services are being provided as part of the sustained efforts to develop customer service and improve the happiness of the people.

The initiatives are all part of a range of programmes and strategies to shift towards smart government and smart city, aiming to use technology to increase the effectiveness of government performance in achieving happiness and public satisfaction in the society.

Rabih Dabboussi is the general manager of Cisco, a firm deeply involved in the implementation of the Smart City programme says the crust of all Sheikh Mohammed's initiatives is to ensure people's happiness. Ultimately it is all about creating more jobs, more opportunities, creating a safe city and creating facilities to people of all ages and nationalities.

"He started the initiative of Smart Dubai to set a new bar.  The whole notion behind the smart city or smart Dubai is to create an environment that makes us lead an intelligent life in Dubai.

The purpose of a smart city is to afford better, happier safer living. That is why Sheikh Mohammed has emphasised ever so often that it is not just about smart government but a smart life all around," he said.

According to him, global competitiveness is moving from nations to cities and Dubai is in a perfect position to take on the best cities in the world be it, New York, London or Washington.

One of Sheikh Mohammed's latest initiatives is to take the whole nation forward towards scientific and technological advancement is the introduction of UAE Innovation Week that aimed at motivating the country's education, health, energy, environment, space, economy and service sectors to push new boundaries and present their innovations.

The first Innovation week was held in November and featured workshops, seminars and innovative laboratories.

This was followed up with the launch of a new fund worth Dh2 billion ($544.37 million) to finance innovation. According to officials, The ‘Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Fund to Finance Innovation’ is designed to provide financing solutions for innovators across various sectors within the UAE, and support them in transforming ideas and suggestions into innovation projects which will contribute to the country’s national innovation strategy and to achieving the UAE Vision 2021.

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