Dubai building the smart economy of the future
Four years ago, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, launched his vision to transform Dubai into a 'Smart City', and make the emirate one of the most technologically-advanced cities in the world. Smart Dubai has subsequently announced an ambitious roadmap to prepare Dubai to embrace the future and emerge as a world-leading city by 2021, in celebration of the nation's golden jubilee, by promoting technological advances that benefit the city's people, its economy, and its resources.
Dubai has thus deployed various initiatives and projects to achieve Sheikh Mohammed's vision and transform the whole emirate and not just any specific industry, into a smart city. This includes an enabling regulatory environment with modern physical as well as information and communication infrastructure; support for R&D and human capital development; and entrepreneurial capabilities and linkages to tap into global knowledge and financing arrangements. Importantly, Dubai has also adopted and integrated the concepts of quality and excellence into every aspect of business and public life in the emirate.
Four years into the Smart City initiative and the emirate has already transformed itself into a model smart city following the launch of more than 200 smart initiatives and more than 1,000 smart services by two dozen government departments and private sector partners.
The Department of Economic Development in Dubai, on its part, has developed a strategy to harness the ongoing digital transformation in Dubai and further boost economic growth, productivity and global competitiveness. Our quest for a smart Dubai economy means leveraging innovations in information and communication technologies in order to create a globally competitive economy and digitally transform strategic economic sectors and pioneer new rules of economic development and engagement. It also means fielding initiatives to promote vibrant entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem and one that is fueled by productive R&D investments, emerging technologies, open and shared data, and enriching collaborations to boost patents granted in the emirate. Finally, such a transformation will create the enabling environment where inspired, skilled, innovative and highly-productive workforce can thrive and reinforce Dubai's position as the smartest city of the future.
We have thus deployed a number of smart initiatives including customer-facing technologies to assist with licensing and tending to queries. For example, the 'Business Dashboard' and 'Rashid' are two of the department's multiple initiatives designed to accelerate the transition of Dubai into a smart economy. We have also introduced a 'Hassle-Free' initiative that automates and simplifies business registration and licensing procedures, making them more efficient and less time-consuming. Together, these innovations have led to a more productive engagement between the government and the private sector.
The DED has also adopted the Global Star Rating System for services across commercial establishments in Dubai. The system is one of the pioneering initiatives launched by the government under the directives of Sheikh Mohammed to serve as a model to improve services and achieve customer happiness. Last, the DED also launched a unique artificial intelligence-enabled consumer protection service that provides a digital platform to resolve consumer complaints, and enhance awareness of consumer rights.
Moving forward, our role is to continue to develop regulations and disciplines looking to the future knowledge-based industries rather than traditional industries. Our focus is on market development rather than product development. We want to encourage participation by collaboration across national boundaries using electronic knowledge networking methods. We are working to develop the regulatory infrastructure that will provide incentives for businesses, existing and new ones, to create knowledge management programs, and develop new measures of corporate performance based on knowledge.
We want our smart economy to be a place where the capture, codification and dissemination of "best practices" knowledge is open to all firms of all sizes. This is especially important for our small and medium enterprises that want to export but face disproportionate cost of compliance with a multitude of standards and technical regulations across different markets. Large corporations could create these knowledge centers and help SMEs meet the requirements for doing business internationally.
The above initiatives and many others that are currently in the pipeline have already moved Dubai's economy towards a more sustainable environment and a more sustainable city. But Dubai will not stop here. The emirate will continue to innovate and adapt; however, it is doing so on a deadline. All hands are on deck to achieve His Highness's vision and implement the Smart Dubai 2021 strategy in a timely and seamless manner.
The writer is director-general of DED Dubai. Views expressed are his own and do not reflect the newspaper's policy.
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