From 3 employees in small room to running 60% of Dubai services: How municipality is charting emirate's future

Dubai has been constantly using technology — like its digital twin city and the metaverse — to enhance residents' happiness and welfare


Nasreen Abdulla

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Supplied photo
Supplied photo

Published: Wed 15 Feb 2023, 5:04 PM

Last updated: Wed 15 Feb 2023, 6:45 PM

From operating in a small room with only three employees, the Dubai Municipality (DM) has come a long way: Today, it is running 60 per cent of the city's services, the civic body's chief revealed on Wednesday at this year's World Government Summit (WGS).

Dawoud Al Hajri, director-general of DM, was speaking at a session titled 'Future Cities: A City Without Boundaries' on the final day of the WGS held in Dubai.

Quoting His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, Al Hajiri said that a positive leader can close his eyes and imagine the future.

“He sees the city he wants to achieve and envisions future accomplishments in all their beauty and detail, and can feel the outcome,” he said, pointing out that Dubai is a city that has set no boundaries on its aspirations.

Dawoud Al Hajri speaks at the WGS on Wednesday.  - Supplied photo
Dawoud Al Hajri speaks at the WGS on Wednesday. - Supplied photo

He also elaborated on how the DM, established in 1954, has been supporting the city by performing 60 per cent of its services across 14 key missions.

Saying that the future is closer than we can imagine, Al Hajiri listed the five mega-trends that Dubai is focusing on:

1. Technological acceleration

“With the acceleration in technology, two-thirds of the population has started using the internet, artificial intelligence (AI), as well as the Internet of Things (IoT),” he said.

Dubai has been constantly using technology — like its digital twin city and the metaverse — to enhance human happiness and welfare, he added.

2. Future of global food security

With 828 million people suffer from hunger globally, the government has made food security a priority, Al Hajiri said, adding that they have been focusing on food technologies to secure alternate food supplies.

“In order to support the future of food security, Dubai has started to rely on urban agriculture methods like vertical farming,” he said. According to him, these methods ensure a safe future for food security.

3. Construction industry

Al Hajri then elaborated on the future of the construction industry, asserting that increasing efficiency and lowering carbon emissions were the aim of both governments and private sector companies.

He spoke about how the city became home to the first 3D-printed building. “We used locally made concrete material,” he said. “We aim for Dubai to become the global hub for 3D printing technologies.”

4. Energy production

The demand for energy production is rising each day and it will be one of the key areas that will shape the cities of the future. “It is anticipated that by the year 2050, the average home's electricity usage will rise by about 75 per cent, necessitating the use of more environment-friendly and sustainable alternatives in order to meet demands,” he said, stating that with 2023 being announced as the Year of Sustainability and COP28 being hosted in Dubai this, going green lies at the heart of the city’s priorities.

5. Environmental ecosystems

Al Hajiri also shed light on the restoration of environmental ecosystems and its effect on quality of life, and its role in creating the ideal environment for the production of food and water required by the growing population. He also spoke about how coordinated actions on a global scale are the primary means of reducing the degradation of the environmental ecosystem.

Al Hajiri concluded by saying that Dubai believes in the future and is poised to become an incubator of civilization. “Welfare is not just building cities,” he said. “It is about offering good quality of life in cities. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has built this city on the on the basis on people’s happiness and that is what we will continue doing.”

After his speech, a video that showed the transformation of Dubai over the years was played.


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