A few decades back Dubai was nothing but a desert. However, if you were to visit it today, you will marvel at how this modern city-state has earned a global appeal in the recent past.
Technology has been the key enabler in making Dubai a smart and connected city, and a pioneer in using smart services worldwide. No wonder the city is Middle East’s technology hub and a base for several technology giants.
Right from the time when IoT strategy was announced, Dubai has wasted no time in making progress in the technology sector. From smart airports to designing the entire city based on 3D simulations, the government and the private sector are doing everything to make Dubai the world’s smartest and happiest city.
The Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE, His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum aspires to make Dubai “the happiest city on Earth” by 2021. With this vision in mind, the government is investing heavily in the latest disruptive technologies like cloud computing, internet of things (IoT), the blockchain, virtual/augmented reality, 3D printing, smart home technology, artificial intelligence, and robotics.
For instance, the smart home technology adopted by the luxurious real estate projects like the Arabian Ranches Villas are offering citizens a luxurious lifestyle and state-of-the-art indoor technology. These fabulous villas are equipped with exceptional security, privacy, and the up-to-the-minute amenities, enhancing the residents’ quality of life.
Though oil has played a critical role in uplifting the emirate’s economy, the ever-prescient government of Dubai recognizes the importance of technology in fuelling the economic growth of the region and making it one of the most advanced cities in the world.
Here’s how modern technology is changing the face of Dubai across the key sectors that contribute to the city’s economic growth.
Disruptive digital technologies are closing the gap between healthcare providers and patients by allowing seamless streaming of communication and interaction. Smart devices and mobile applications pass critical patient information to doctors and paramedics, thereby enabling them to effectively respond to emergencies.
In fact, according to a recent news report, the emirate leads in the digital healthcare funding in the Middle East region, thereby preparing for a future that will experience value-based healthcare services like paperless patient records, software-enabled diagnostic systems for quick detection of infectious diseases, telehealth, robotic surgery, and e-pharmacy.
The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) is employing next-generation technology in healthcare facilities to enhance the patient experience. For instance, it recently launched an artificial intelligence strategy to support the medical system in hospitals and equip healthcare team with tools that help them diagnose and treat patients effectively.
Wearable technologies are playing a pivotal role in spreading awareness among patients and making health-related information available at their fingertips. In fact, looking at the tremendous growth in this sector, several global tech firms like Samsung and Huawei are keen on introducing the latest wearable devices to compete for market share in the UAE.
The government of Dubai is partnering with several tech companies to explore the latest technologies to improve the efficiency of the health sector in the city, bring down the cost of care, and enhance the patients’ quality of life.
Since the introduction of the Vision 2021 project, the government of UAE has invested heavily in getting tech companies, universities, and schools, working together to foster creative thinking towards a first-rate education system.
Technology is taking over in the classrooms in Dubai as students and the teaching faculty experience enhanced learning and administrative flexibility in the education domain.
Over the past few years, schools and colleges in Dubai have adopted disruptive technologies like mobile learning, virtual/augmented reality, and artificial intelligence to keep students engaged through the class and beyond.
For instance, robotic tools like Professor Einstein deliver lectures to students, answer questions, crack clever jokes, and make facial expressions that kids relate to, thereby captivating young learners and improving their learning experience.
Similarly, several AI applications like chatbots and grading assistants are reducing the administrative workload on teaching professionals, thereby allowing them to spend quality time with their students.
With the latest technology being introduced in the education domain, students and teachers in Dubai now have access to an incredible amount of opportunities. From learning how to code to collaborating with their classmates and professors on a complex school project, technology is helping the residents of the city take massive strides towards building a modern knowledge-based society.
Home to the largest malls, traditional souks, and the world’s largest shopping festivals, Dubai can be safely referred to as one of the best cities to shop in globally. In order to cater to its modern-age connected customers, Dubai is employing modern technologies to integrate a variety of systems used by retailers.
These disruptive technologies are enabling retailers to use front-loaded mobile retailing apps, in-store IoT solutions, smart multidimensional digital signage, beacons, payment systems, AR/VR, and wearable technologies to engage their customers and stand out from the competition.
Several retail outlets are using artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data analytics at the front-end and back-end of the retail value chain to personalize shopping experience and improve the efficiency of the system.
For instance, at the front-end, robots are being deployed as shopping assistants that directly interact with shoppers, providing basic value-adding services, namely foreign currency exchange, gift wrapping, and price comparisons.
A few in-the-pipeline retail projects such as the Dubai Square aim at blurring the boundaries between online and in-store shopping, thereby delivering a fully-immersive experience to 21st-century shoppers. Dubai Square will use the state-of-art 3D projection technology to redefine the shopping experience for digital-savvy customers.
With the city expecting tremendous tourist inflow in the coming years, the introduction of such hi-tech projects will play a pivotal role in establishing Dubai as the next champion of global retail.
As Dubai leads the way with its Smart City initiatives, it recognizes the role of innovation and technology in supporting the ever-evolving business landscape. Consequently, the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) has been prompt in embracing financial technology (Fintech) to enhance the efficiency of the market and offer improved services and solutions.
Technologies like the blockchain, biometrics, digital wallets, and chatbots are revolutionizing the business world, enabling companies to make simple and secure transactions and enhancing customer experience.
In 2016, the Smart Dubai office launched the citywide initiative, namely the Dubai Blockchain Strategy that established a roadmap for the introduction of this technology in the city. Ever since Dubai is using the blockchain technology to enable a paperless digital layer for all business transactions.
Furthermore, the government of Dubai hosts at least one blockchain conference a month, inviting tech and finance startups and industry experts to participate and share innovative ideas in the domain. No wonder, the city is clearly acknowledged for its efforts towards the blockchain implementation!
Bankers and analysts in Dubai agree that digitization of financial services can help them gather momentum, enabling them to remain competitive in a market that is highly prompt in embracing technology. Consequently, a majority of banks in Dubai have announced digital initiatives to offer convenience to customers and bring cost savings.
A recent poll revealed that three in ten citizens in the UAE will switch a bank if they find another bank offering hi-tech services. Thus, in the scenario where technology is so popular among citizens, the metropolitan is geared up to introduce several Fintech-inspired initiatives that are changing the way business is done.
- Real Estate
The property market in Dubai is ripe for disruption, thereby creating demand for deployment of real-estate technologies like PropTech.
PropTech refers to the use of modern technologies like IoT, big data analytics, the blockchain, chatbots, 3D printing, virtual tours, drone land surveying, and smart homes to transform the way individuals buy, sell, rent, design, construct, and manage the residential and commercial properties.
For instance, 3D printing technology is enabling real estate construction professionals to customize building designs with a great deal of flexibility and creativity.
Furthermore, the Dubai Municipality has introduced an application that enables real estate companies, consultants, and contractors to aerially access lands using the drone technology.
A recent study conducted by HSBC revealed that two-thirds of the property buyers in the emirate resort to technology to access relevant information pertaining to a real estate project. Consequently, the government and real estate professionals are making substantial efforts towards supporting these technological trends.
As Dubai prepares for Expo 2020, the government has ambitious plans to introduce battery-powered flying drone taxis, driverless cars, firefighting jetpacks, almost-instant travel portals, and a high-speed Hyperloop to Abu Dhabi, thereby offering novel solutions to the traffic jams and road accidents in the city.
Though smart cities with futuristic transportation seem like science fiction, the citizens of Dubai are already witnessing how technology is unlocking new opportunities for the city’s Road and Transport Authority (RTA). By adopting modern technology, the city is able to introduce a multitude of initiatives like advanced traffic management, smart parking and automated toll booths, taxis powered with Wi-Fi, and electric vehicle charging stations.
Recently, the RTA collaborated with a mapping and location data firm, HERE Technologies in order to support self-driving transportation during Expo 2020 and beyond.
Dubai’s unending thirst for innovation in transportation and investment in technology is transforming it into an ever-more-connected city, taking it closer to its mission of making Dubai efficient, seamless, and safe for its residents and visitors.
- Tourism and Hospitality
The tourism segment in Dubai has emerged as an important contributor to the emirate’s economy. Moreover, the city expects to welcome a whopping 20 million international tourists by 2020. Consequently, the government is pumping in support and heavily relying on technology to transform the city as the most-preferred travel destination in the world.
For instance, at the Gitex Technology Week 2016, the Dubai Tourism showcased one of its latest innovations in the visitor experience technology, namely the interactive Visit Dubai app, the innovative Dubai360 Virtual Reality experience, and a new paperless inspection system.
Dubai Tourism has also embraced blockchain technology to offer transparent pricing and enable travelers to customize their travel in a secure way.
Similarly, Dubai Tourism, in collaboration with Dubai Airports and Emirates Airlines, has recently invested in a high-tech kiosk, MyDubai Experience, that allows in-transit and stopover flyers to virtually discover Dubai, thereby encouraging them to visit the city in the future.
These technological offerings are enabling residents and visitors to explore the city in an efficient manner whilst boosting the city’s tourism returns.
- Renewable Energy
The Dubai Clean Energy Strategy aims at generating 75 percent of the city’s total power output from clean energy by 2050 and making Dubai the city with the smallest carbon footprint worldwide. With this objective in mind, the government is counting on and investing in green technology to achieve its sustainability goals.
This fastest growing metropolis is using technology to harness renewable sources of energy like wind and sun, and transform itself into the world’s most sustainable city. The government of Dubai is continually announcing smart and sustainable projects like Desert Rose that envision Dubai to be a self-sustaining city with green spaces and technologies for reducing the dependence on fossil fuels.
Technological innovations are driving the adoption of solar power solutions in the city. The Concentrated Solar Power Project (CSP, in the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, Dubai) is the world’s largest solar power project that is expected to power up over 270 thousand houses in the city.
Furthermore, the emirate is launching an artificial intelligence lab that will map optimal solar power locations, track air pollutants and oil leaks, and examine the water quality in the city. Such environmental monitoring projects are aimed towards improving the lives of the residents and harnessing renewable energy.
Thus, Dubai is well poised to take advantage of the solar and wind power technology, thereby reducing its carbon footprint.
The deployment of cutting-edge technologies has revolutionized just about every aspect of life in Dubai. With disruptive technologies changing the face of Dubai every day, the city is all set to become the hub of innovation and technology worldwide.
Nicola Reynor is a passionate blogger who loves to blog about fashion, beauty, property guide, home decor, wedding and lifestyle trends. When in leisure time, she prefers to spend time traveling with friends and family.