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Dubai smart city initiative moves on
By Inayat-ur-Rahman February 16, 2016
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DUBAI: The report ‘Digital Dividends’ comes along with the smart government and smart city initiatives launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

This was stated by Dr Abdelrazaq Al Faris, Deputy Secretary-General for Economic Affairs on behalf of Hani R. Al Hamli, Secretary-General, Dubai Economic Council (DEC)  recently during an event in Dubai.

The DEC in collaboration with the World Bank Group organised a seminar titled ‘World Development Report 2016-Digital Dividends’ in Dubai.

“Despite the fact that UAE is in the forefront of many regional economies in smart application particularly given the recent international reports that unveiled UAE is classified as one of the world’s most dynamic countries in telecommunication coverage, yet the seminar is regarded an interactive platform to exchange knowledge and experiences in the digital economy,” Al Faris concluded.

Dr Deepak Mishra, Co-Director, World Development Report 2016, World Bank presented the key findings of the report. He said that the report focuses on the impact of digital technologies (e.g., internet and smart phones) on global development particularly from productivity, employment opportunities, and governance perspectives. He also said that the report highlights the key challenges facing the developing world in digital economy arena.

Following the report presentation, a roundtable titled “WDR implications from stakeholders’ perspectives” has been conducted, moderated by Ms Lubna Bouza, CNBC Arabia, and encompassing decision makers and experts particularly in digital economy and development issues, as well as academics.

Dr Deepak Mishra stated that digital technologies are transforming the worlds of business, work, and government. “We must continue to connect everyone and leave no one behind because the cost of lost opportunities is enormous” he added.

Replying to a question about whether the medical community accommodate the digital technologies,  Dr Amer Sharif, Chief Executive Officer, Dubai Healthcare City Authority–Education Sector stated that there is a grand progress in digital transformation in the medical world, and in the UAE there is ‘entrepreneurship’ in this arena which inspired all parties to adopt it. Dr Amer also sheds light on the pillars of Dubai Medical Strategy that focuses on technological data.

Dr Amer recommended improving the medical curriculum to have graduated students who are capable to apply the digital technology and be more involved in digital era.

Dr Zaki Khoury, Regional Director, International Organisations, Middle East & Africa, Worldwide Public Sector, Microsoft said that we are witnessing an unprecedented ‘digital revolution’, and the technology cycle has been shortened from 3 years to 1 year. He also said that we are in need of new skills to handle with the smart technology every 6 months. “We are seeing companies who don’t have stores as they are fully functioning through digital technologies,” Dr Khoury added.

Lisa Nyman, Head of Strategy & Business Innovation, RMEA, Ericsson stated that there are about 4 billion people around the world who don’t have access to the internet. Nyman raised a question about how to bridge this ‘digital gap.’ She said that Ericsson attempted to solve this issue by maintaining communication and connectivity with all parties concerned, public and private sectors, particularly through its education and training programmes provided to several countries in terms of its keenness to spread the telecommunication coverage to reach all classes of the community, particularly those living in remote areas. She also emphasised reducing the cost of telecommunication.

Dr Ibrahim Elbadawi, Director of Macroeconomics and Forecasting, Dubai Economic Council, said that WDR 2016 pays close attention to digital dividends and digital connectivity across the community. Elbadawi praised the rapid and noticeable progress in digital technologies application in the UAE and Dubai. He said that Dubai’s smart government and smart city initiatives would reap huge returns in development.

Dr Elbadawi unveiled that estimates suggest that digital connectivity will bring in about $300 billion as an added income for the MENA region and about $40 billion for the GCC in particular.

“It is very necessary to enact new regulations and rules to protect the market from monopolistic practices in the digital technology industry,” Dr Elbadawi claimed. “In order to help the community to transfer to the digital mode, it’s widely advised to provide a system of incentives,” Dr Elbadawi concluded.

The launch seminar was attended by representatives from both public and private sectors, experts, digital community, academics and media. CNBC Arabia conducted full-fledged coverage of the event as its exclusive media partner.

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