06 September 2023, Emirates News Agency
Over the last half a century, Dubai has undergone a metamorphosis that is unparalleled among the world’s cities. Guided by the vision of its leaders, the city has leapfrogged development stages to not just keep pace with global advancements, but also become a trailblazer, setting new benchmarks in trade, investment, entrepreneurship, and innovation.
Today, Dubai has emerged at the forefront of shaping the world’s future with an ambitious plan for deploying advanced technologies. At the heart these aspirations is a visionary roadmap for the development and implementation of digital technologies.
Dubai’s digital journey commenced more than two decades ago, when it launched its pioneering 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. Now, Dubai is transitioning into its next phase, with the aim of strengthening its emergence as the global capital of the digital world. As cities around the globe scramble to integrate smart technologies into their infrastructures, Dubai is already multiple steps ahead, with initiatives that are setting the gold standard for the digital transformation of cities.
Today, the emirate’s government services have reached a digitisation rate of 99.5 percent, while its paperless government objective has been achieved 100 percent. Digital transactions currently account for 87 percent of total government service transactions. More than 120 government smartphone applications have been developed, while government entities have recorded a compliance rate of over 80 per cent with cybersecurity indicators and 100 percent compliance with the Dubai Data Law.
Driving the new phase of Dubai’s digital ambitions is a comprehensive strategy launched by the Dubai Digital Authority, the organisation that is spearheading the emirate’s digital agenda. Established in June 2021, the Dubai Digital Authority’s mandate is to develop, execute, and supervise strategies to enhance Dubai’s IT infrastructure, data management, digital transformation, and cybersecurity. Operating as an integrated body, the Authority synergises the expertise of the Dubai Electronic Security Centre, the Dubai Data and Statistics Establishment and the Digital Dubai
The 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 critical pillars: the Digital City, Data and Statistics, Cybersecurity, Digital Competitiveness, Digital Economy, Digital Talent, and Digital Infrastructure. Each pillar was carefully conceived to generate meaningful economic, social, and environmental outcomes.
Global model for digital governance
Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori, Director-General of Digital Dubai, said, “Dubai is on course to usher in an advanced digital future and raise its status as a global exemplar for digital governance, in line with the ambitious objectives of the Dubai Economic Agenda D33, and the aims of the ‘We The UAE 2031’ vision. 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 a robust framework of strategic indicators and performance metrics, ensuring alignment with Dubai’s key objectives. 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 percent, improve the quality of the digital experience by a minimum of 90 percent, 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,” Al Mansoori said.
Building digital capacities
The upskilling of Emirati talent plays a significant role in accelerating Dubai’s digital transformation. This endeavour is supported by collaboration and engagement with a diverse range of government entities. “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,” Al Mansoori noted.
Further supporting Dubai government entities in raising their digital capabilities is the “Digital Maturity Policy” that offers a comprehensive framework for digital management best practices. The policy includes a maturity model designed to guide these entities in enhancing customer satisfaction, operational efficiency and productivity leaps.
Dubai’s digital transformation journey has always had a strong focus on robust infrastructure. The ‘Dubai Digital Cloud’ project launched by HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed in July marks a significant advancement in this area, serving as a catalyst for transforming Dubai’s 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.
Moro Hub contributes to the project by offering cloud services through its Moro Cloud platform. Incorporating global best practices, the platform reduces overall IT costs for Dubai and accelerates digital transformation by providing a suite of emerging technologies and cutting-edge services. Microsoft complements this with its Azure cloud computing platform and specialised platforms for government entities, all of which ensure top-tier security, governance, and compliance.
The project’s multi-cloud architecture offers a blend of private and public cloud solutions that allow government entities to choose the services that best suit their needs. What sets the Dubai Digital Cloud apart is its status as a ‘sovereign cloud’ marked by the highest standards in cybersecurity, efficiency and resilience. The initiative helps seamlessly integrate the government’s operations into a cohesive, intelligent system, turning the concept of a unified government into reality.
Dubai’s digital strategy has given citizens and residents many tools that make their daily lives easier. The growing use of digital apps like Dubai Now is a testament to the city’s rapid advancements in fostering a digitally-enabled life. With this application, citizens and residents can gain access to more than 170 public and commercial sector services from more than 35 organisations, all at their fingertips, saving them considerable time and hassle. Paying for parking, applying for a visa, filing a police report, recycling waste and reporting a traffic accident are just some of the services that the Dubai Now app offers.
With over 23 million transactions worth more than AED12 billion since inception, Dubai Now has set new benchmarks for seamless single-window digital services. In the first half of 2023 alone, the app processed about 2.6 million transactions, compared to 2.1 million transactions in the same period in 2022, a year-on-year growth of 24 percent. To further enhance customer satisfaction, the Dubai Digital Authority has deployed biometric happiness detection systems and environmental wellbeing sensors to obtain real-time data on public sentiment and environmental conditions, respectively.
A rich digital experience
The Dubai Digital Authority has implemented several new initiatives that are redefining urban life in the digital age. Powered by advanced AI and ChatGPT capabilities, the recently introduced enhanced version of Dubai’s official portal, Dubai.ae, offers convenient access to a wide array of information and services for both local residents and global users. Covering sectors like healthcare, education, events, tourism, investment, residential facilities, family matters, transportation, communications, and real estate, it serves as a unified hub for diverse needs.
The platform features a specialised section dedicated to E-participation in Dubai, reflecting the city’s strong commitment to engaging residents in shaping city services and policies. By providing a dedicated space for discussions and sharing ideas and suggestions, the portal creates the feedback loop necessary for raising the quality of life of Dubai’s residents.
The Dubai Data and Statistics Establishment’s ‘Dubai Dashboard’ provides decision-makers with instant access to an array of reliable, up-to-the-minute city indicators. This includes key metrics such as population trends, the Platform 04 index, happiness levels, business license data, tourism statistics, foreign trade volume, real estate transactions, and the Dubai Cybersecurity Index, among others.
The “Digital Harmony” initiative seeks to enhance the synergy between individuals and digital products and services in Dubai. The Authority’s “Digital City Experiences” programme, conceived in collaboration with The Executive Council of Dubai, the Dubai Government Human Resources Department, the Supreme Legislation Committee, and the Dubai Department of Finance aims to create a unified digital ecosystem that offers consistent digital experiences to citizens, residents, visitors and entrepreneurs. The initiative seeks to connect fragmented digital services in Dubai, consolidating them into an integrated system that values privacy, is user-centric and provides them with options.
As part of enhancing the digital experience, Dubai has provided free Wi-Fi across the city. Dubai boasts an extensive network of over 23,600 free Wi-Fi hotspots, located across a diverse array of public spaces and facilities. These hotspots offer nearly ubiquitous coverage, encompassing the majority of Dubai’s metropolitan expanse.
As Dubai forges ahead in creating a new digital future, powered by the Dubai Digital Authority’s comprehensive new strategy, the city has not only solidified its place as a global digital leader but also created a blueprint for the cities of tomorrow. With initiatives that redefine city life, tap the power of data, and enhance well-being, Dubai is building a digitally empowered community that is unmatched in the worldwide urban landscape.