Dubai has achieved yet another milestone in its storied efforts to go digital and make life easier. The emirate has become the world’s first government to go completely paperless. This was announced by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council of Dubai. The project to go paperless was announced way back in 2018 and was accomplished in record time in 2021, coinciding with the 50th year of the UAE’s formation. Sheikh Hamdan was all praise for teams who worked tirelessly for converting all government processes into digital forms. The shift to digital was achieved in five phases with each one, including a cluster of government departments, fulfilling the mandate given by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who famously said that no employee or customer would need to print any paper document after 2021. The vision, which appeared very ambitious at that time, has become a reality testifying to the commitment of the Dubai Ruler and the Crown Prince to realise their sworn objectives.
The journey to a paperless era was accelerated by the sudden and unexpected breakout of the coronavirus pandemic. All people stayed indoors to ward off the threat from the virus, and governments were forced to expedite their shift to the digital arena. Even private sector firms moved their digital operations into top gear to facilitate work-from-home process for employees and to deliver services to customers digitally wherever possible. The pandemic has come as a blessing in disguise for this epic, inevitable shift. Digital life is the new buzzword for policy makers and think tanks. A paperless government is a must, though not enough, for a full digital life. Sheikh Hamdan said: “We mark this achievement with our sights set firmly on the future, and we look forward to providing a fully digital life for residents of the emirate.” Nothing can be more prescient than this.
The paperless era has dawned in Dubai at a time when the UAE has declared that it will become carbon-neutral by 2050 at the recent Glasgow climate conference. The shift to digital operations has helped save over 336 million papers, said the statement from the Dubai government. This is a humongous number which could have saved several thousands of trees, thus contributing to climate cause. Less paper indirectly means fewer net emissions. The paperless government is an important step in the journey towards a carbon-neutral world. All governments in the world sooner or later have to embrace this policy in order to reduce their carbon footprint and make life ecologically sustainable.
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