Dubai: 23,600 free Wi-Fi hotspots in emirate, says authority as it announces new digital strategy

The emirate has now set sights on becoming the global capital of the digital world


Sahim Salim

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Photo: AFP File
Photo: AFP File

Published: Wed 6 Sep 2023, 4:00 PM

Last updated: Wed 6 Sep 2023, 8:52 PM

Dubai boasts an extensive network of over 23,600 free Wi-Fi spots, authorities announced Wednesday. These spots are located across a diverse array of facilities and encompass the “majority of Dubai's metropolitan expanse”.

Residents and visitors get free Internet at parks, beaches, malls and other public spaces.

This came as the Dubai Digital Authority announced a strategy to drive the new phase of the emirate’s digital ambitions.

The authority revealed just how far the emirate has come in its digital journey that began more than two decades ago, when it launched its e-government initiative in 2000. This was followed by the Smart Government initiative in 2013, and a comprehensive digital programme that eliminated paper transactions by the end of 2021.

Dubai has now set sights on becoming the global capital of the digital world. Authorities released some statistics that highlight its digital penetration:

  • Government services have reached a digitisation rate of 99.5 per cent
  • Paperless government objective has been achieved 100 per cent.
  • Digital transactions currently account for 87 per cent of total government service transactions.
  • More than 120 government smartphone applications have been developed
  • Government entities have recorded a compliance rate of over 80 per cent with cybersecurity indicators and 100 per cent compliance with the Dubai Data Law.

Digitally-enabled community

With the Dubai Now app, residents can get access to more than 170 public and commercial sector services from more than 35 organisations. These include paying for parking, applying for a visa, filing a police report, recycling waste and reporting a traffic accident.

It has registered over 23 million transactions worth more than Dh12 billion since inception. In the first half of 2023 alone, the app processed about 2.6 million transactions, compared to 2.1 million in the same period in 2022, a year-on-year growth of 24 per cent.

Comprehensive roadmap

The Dubai Digital Authority’s new strategy seeks to harness the power of data, innovation and smart solutions to enhance the quality of life of its citizens and residents, and build an advanced digitally-enabled economy and society. The roadmap focuses on seven pillars: Digital City, Data and Statistics, Cybersecurity, Digital Competitiveness, Digital Economy, Digital Talent, and Digital Infrastructure.

Digital governance

Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori, director-general of Digital Dubai, said: "Dubai is on course to usher in an advanced digital future … Empowered by the far-reaching vision of our leadership, we are building a dynamic digital economy, underpinned by agility, ingenuity and innovative use of digital technologies. Dubai’s new digital strategy provides a model for digital governance for the cities of tomorrow and creates a strong foundation for a comprehensive digital life."

The implementation of these goals is being monitored through strategic indicators and performance metrics. The ‘Dubai Transaction Index’ serves as a real-time barometer of government efficiency. The index not only furnishes the leadership with a panoramic understanding of service performance across government entities but also allows customers to monitor the services rendered to them.

“By using such metrics, we aim to expand the digital economy by an exponential 200 per cent, improve the quality of the digital experience by a minimum of 90 per cent, raise Dubai's ranking in the United Nations’ Local Online Service Index (LOSI), and proactively create 50 integrated digital city experiences that are seamless, interconnected and high-impact,” said Al Mansoori.

Fostering digital skills

The upskilling of Emirati talent plays a significant role in accelerating Dubai’s digital transformation.

“At Digital Dubai, we are committed to constantly nurturing local professionals to ensure we maintain the highest technological competence. Our strategy aims to train and qualify more than 50,000 Emiratis in advanced digital skills,” said Al Mansoori.

Strong infrastructure

The ‘Dubai Digital Cloud’ project launched by Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in July serves to transform the government into a unified, smart ecosystem. Developed through a collaboration between Digital Dubai, government agencies, and key industry leaders like Moro Hub and Microsoft, the initiative creates an integrated platform that provides government entities with access to cloud services, such as storage, computing, and networking.


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