Dubai: Tech metropolis
From self-driving vehicles to 3D-printed buildings and public services based on the Internet of Things (IoT), Dubai is spearheading a new era of innovation
While Dubai is already known the world over as one of the great modern metropolises, government authorities are pursuing an ambitious strategy designed to establish the city as one of ‘smartest’ on the planet.
“Our goal is to make [Dubai and the UAE] a global source of the future for various sectors, including smart cities, clean energy, autonomous transportation, sustainable infrastructure and legislation for the future,” says HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
“Dubai is leading the cities of the world by taking a big leap in the adoption of artificial intelligence to serve humanity and establish a global model of the city of the future as we aim to become the world’s largest laboratory for technology and research and development (R&D).”
From cutting-edge telecommunications services to advanced technology research centres, Dubai already boasts some of the world’s most advanced knowledge-based infrastructure. It now wants to become a global leader in the development of leading-edge technologies, from semiconductors and nanotechnology to artificial intelligence and 3D printing applications.
Dubai is already a pioneer of the latter, having opened the world’s first 3D-printed building in 2016. Housing the forthcoming Museum of the Future, the building was constructed using a massive 3D printer in just 17 days.
“This project reflects the vision of our leadership here in Dubai,” said HE Mohammed Al Gergawi, chairman of the UAE National Innovation Committee at the official unveiling of the building.
“We are keen to use the latest technologies to simplify people’s lives and to serve them better. This project is part of our overall innovation strategy to create new designs and new solutions in education, healthcare and cities. Our goal is to increase the happiness and wellbeing of our residents and to pioneer new solutions for the world.”
Dubai’s highly ambitious Autonomous Transportation Strategy aims for 25% of the city’s transport requirements to be met by self-driving or automated vehicles by 2030. The strategy is anticipated to create economic savings of more than AED22 billion annually.
According to a government statement, the initiative will help cut transportation costs in Dubai by 44%, resulting in savings of up to AED900 million a year. It will also help save AED1.5 billion a year by reducing environmental pollution by 12%, while generating AED18 billion in annual economic returns by increasing the efficiency of the transportation sector in Dubai by 2030.
“We want to make Dubai a sustainable place to live in, to enable future generations to enjoy the finest smart services within a sustainable environment. Today we are placing a new component of the city of the future, represented in a transportation system based on autonomous technology,” says Sheikh Mohammed.
"We have moved from foreseeing the future to the stage of making the future. The eyes of the whole world are set on our country as we forge ahead of others in the world in the use of technology to improve key sectors related to human life and adapt innovation and new technologies in various areas of work and life.”
Dubai currently ranks 18th in a global league table of the world’s 32 most innovative cities. The Dubai Innovation Index is compiled annually by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) in conjunction with the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The emirate outranks rival business hubs such as Madrid, Milan, Kuala Lumpur and Moscow.
“The Index helps identify areas where we can boost our competitiveness,” says H.E. Hamad Buamim, president and CEO of Dubai Chamber. “By embracing innovative strategies and practices, the private sector can contribute greatly to Dubai’s vision to become one of the world’s most innovative cities by 2021.”