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GETTING SMARTER
As Dubai’s ambitious smart city strategy rapidly takes shape, industry players opine on the pace of change and challenges to adoption
Aarti Nagraj

The tech exhibition, which draws participants from across the world, has become a platform for the emirate to showcase the progress of its ambitious ‘smart city’ strategy with government entities among the key exhibitors. The Smart Dubai strategic plan aims to transform all government services and make them digital and paperless. It includes 100 initiatives under six key pillars: transport, communications, infrastructure, electricity, economic services and urban planning.

Overall, a total of 88 Dubai government services are now being provided through the DubaiNow digital application. Dubai citizens and residents have been able to transact over Dhs4bn on the application so far, it was revealed late last month. With the services that are now being offered digitally, an estimated 28 hours per user is being saved, while the need for 14 visits to government services centers has been eliminated.

“We aim to be the one-stop-shop for all government services,” says Wesam Lootah, CEO of Smart Dubai. “We are launching services that are related to residency – so you can sponsor your family, apply for the entry permit and get the residency all digitally. Also, we are setting up services with (education regulator) KHDA, where you can have access to your children’s academic history and also sign the school contracts. We are also looking at the real estate sector where through the app, you can find the appropriate house for yourself and complete the entire transaction of renting a house digitally with your landlord,” he explains.

Robots greeting visitors may have become a routine feature at the annual Gitex exhibition in Dubai, but a floating smart police station was certainly a big announcement at the event this year.

“Our aim is to provide all government services digitally versus physically. Given a choice, the vast majority of people would prefer to do a transaction anywhere and anytime digitally. Also, the government saves significant resources when it offers the services in a digital way. So, we hope to leverage these technologies to raise the efficiency of the government and to save time and money for citizens. And we are targeting the year 2021 to completely digitise the entire Dubai government,” he adds.

The Dubai paperless strategy, launched by Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum in February 2018 to digitize all internal and external government to consumer transactions, now has 15 entities onboard.

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November 2019

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