Smart Tech comes of age in Dubai

Dubai’s metaverse strategy alone aims to deliver $4 billion to the economy by 2030, with 40,000 jobs and 1,000 companies joining the ranks


Allan Jacob

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Published: Mon 10 Oct 2022, 10:26 PM

A robot firefighter that can be deployed for 20 hours at a stretch in a crisis. Flying cars. Drone deliveries. Autonomous buses. The metaverse for the next phase of digital governance with seamless delivery of services that make life easier for residents and global citizens. It’s all happening in the UAE where the future of living, hyper-digital connectivity, and remote mobility are being driven and implemented with elan. Some may call it technology on steroids. They are not far from the truth in Dubai.

If Silicon Valley in San Franciso sparked off the Big Tech revolution in software, or what is called the Third Industrial Revolution, Dubai is heralding and delivering smarter tech that blends Big Tech with the needs of the common man and woman for whom distances have shrunk as they practice more social distancing and draw closer virtually with limited human intervention.

Some may apportion blame at the doorstep of the pandemic. Indeed, attitudes to life and work have changed, but the future cannot wait and has a way of catching up with humanity after two years lost in the wilderness of sickness, grief and loneliness. Dubai, however, saw in the pandemic an opportunity for improved digital delivery of services and has since effortlessly taken the reins of what has been billed as the Fourth Industrial Revolution. It is now directing the march of some exciting technology developments in this space.

Smart technology being showcased to more than 100,000 international visitors from 5,000 companies in 90 countries is premised on the country’s bold recovery and provides a new and much-need thrust to innovation that has the potential to reshape and reimagine the world.

Modern technological pursuits, while being awe-inspiring, can also be deemed as symbols of celebration, of victories like the recent one against the coronavirus. Take the case of the biotech sector that shone with vaccines that were delivered in less than a year. Healthcare has also seen a leap in talent in investments from governments that are playing both enablers and investors.

Gitex, the world’s largest technology exhibition that began in the city on Monday is, therefore, not merely a glimpse into what will come as it did in the previous editions. It is about bringing the future here, and now. It is about delivering what was promised much before the pandemic hit us more than two years ago.

Now is the time as Dubai Expo promised, for bringing to fruition and reaping the wonders of technology. In fact, it is an unabashed display of what is possible that is guided by the human spirit. The innovations in Dubai are visible - on the ground and in the air - and the changes they herald are already being felt with some government departments in Dubai and Abu Dhabi using them. Others are set to hop on to them before the exhibition ends later this week.

As I write this, a driverless flying taxi has already taken to the skies near the Dubai Marina, and it has been announced that an autonomous minibus would ply in Abu Dhabi from next month to connect the F1 circuit in Yas Marina.

“Gitex Global, which started in 1981, has put Dubai on the global technology map and put technology at the top of Dubai’s priorities,” said His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. The government aims to boost the digital economy’s contribution to the GDP from 11.7 per cent to 20 per cent in the next decade.

Dubai’s metaverse strategy alone aims to deliver $4 billion to the economy by 2030, with 40,000 jobs and 1,000 companies joining the ranks. With Gitex, Dubai is proving how far it has come in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Move over Big Tech. Smart Tech is coming of age in Dubai.

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