How Dubai transformed into the world's first paperless government

Government had launched an initiative named Smart Dubai which aimed to digitize all government services


Nandini Sircar

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Photo: File
Photo: File

Published: Sun 12 Dec 2021, 5:07 PM

Last updated: Sun 12 Dec 2021, 5:13 PM

With the Dubai Paperless Strategy fully implemented, no employee or customer of the Dubai Government will need to print any paper documents or transactions unless they prefer to do so.

This will not only enrich the smart city experience for all Dubai residents but would also allow citizens and residents access to more than 130 smart city services in 12 major categories.

Here’s a chronology of how the emirate transformed into the world's first paperless government:

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and the Ruler of Dubai. Photo: AFP
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and the Ruler of Dubai. Photo: AFP

1995: His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and the Ruler of Dubai, launched the e-Government project in this year even when the internet was unheard of by many people.

1999: He issued a deadline of 18 months to make Dubai Government services fully online and ordered the creation of Dubai Internet City, paving the way for a digital economy.

The e-Gov field is also called the Electronic Government, Digital Government, Electronic Governance.

2013: On 22 May 2013, Sheikh Mohammed launched the Mobile Government initiative in order to provide best services to the public round the clock.

2017: On April 2016, His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Al Maktoum during Digital Dubai’s Future Now Event announced,

2017: The Dubai government launches an initiative named Smart Dubai which aimed to digitize all government services, including school enrollments, licence renewals, paying fines, viewing medical records and more.

The Dubai Paperless Strategy was implemented in five consecutive phases, each of which enlisted a different group of Dubai Government entities. By the end of the fifth phase, the Strategy was fully implemented across all 45 government entities in the emirate. These entities provide more than 1,800 digital services and over 10,500 key transactions.

2018: The Dubai Paperless Strategy was launched in this year with an initial group of six entities: Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), Dubai Police, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), Department of Economic Development, Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, and the Department of Land and Property.

Stage one helped cut paper usage by more than 72.5 million sheets of papers.

2019: The second phase followed, with eight additional entities joining: Dubai Courts, Dubai Municipality, Dubai Public Prosecution, Knowledge and Human Development Authority, Dubai Health Authority, Community Development Authority, Dubai Customs, and the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs, who succeeded in reducing paper usage and saving more than 229.5 million sheets of papers.

2019 end: The third phase of the Strategy was announced with a new group of nine entities, namely: Dubai Corporation for Ambulance Services, Islamic Affairs & Charitable Activities Department, Dubai Media Incorporated, Department of Finance, Dubai Government Human Resources Department, Dubai Culture, Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Al Jalila Cultural Centre for Children, and the Government of Dubai Legal Affairs Department. The group collectively cut paper consumption by more than 12.9 million sheets.

By this year more than 80 government services could be accessed through the online platform “DubaiNow.

Key stakeholders from the Smart Dubai initiative tout the benefits of switching to a paperless system: saving time, environmental resources and money.

2020: Phase four began in this year in the month of March, with a new group of 10 entities joining the effort to implement the Strategy: Dubai Statistics Center; Awqaf and Minors Affairs Foundation; Dubai Women Establishment; Security Industry Regulatory Agency (SIRA); Mohammed Bin Rashid Housing Establishment; Dubai Sports Council; Ports, Customs, and Free Zone Corporation - Trakhees; Dubai Maritime City Authority; Dubai Air Navigation Services; and Dubai Airports.

The group succeeded in reducing paper consumption by more than 11.9 million sheets of paper.

The fourth phase also included the launch of the ‘100% Digital Stamp’ initiative, which aimed to honour government entities that made significant efforts to fully implement the Dubai Paperless Strategy and provide smart services supported by an internal digital infrastructure.

June 2020: The fifth and final phase of implementing the Strategy began, with nine new entities joining the effort: Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre, Dubai Aviation Engineering Projects, Dubai Future Foundation, Supreme Legislation Committee, Nedaa Professional Communication Corporation, Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation, Dubai Government Workshop and the Directorate General of Civil Defense Dubai. The group saved more than 8.2 million sheets of paper in total.

Two additional government entities also joined the Dubai Paperless Strategy: The Financial Audit Authority Dubai and Dubai Chamber. The two entities achieved their strategic goals by 100% and saved more than 938,000 sheets of paper.

October 2021: The Dubai Paperless Strategy accomplishes 98.86 per cent of its government transactions digitalisation objectives across all participating government entities, revealed Digital Dubai during a press conference at GITEX Global 2021.

December 2021: Dubai government goes completely paper-free, eliminating more than one billion pieces of paper used for government transactions every year.

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