There seems to be no end to Dubai's insatiable appetite for innovation. This might be one reason why the emirate has been able to fearlessly bank on its ability to implement experimental development ideas with unwavering confidence. Once again, the emirate is striving towards becoming the world's most innovative city by 2021, in line with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government's Vision 2021.
So what has the UAE government, especially Dubai, done so far in respect to achieving this goal? Herein lies the good news. Recently, the Ruler of Dubai and UAE Prime Minister HE Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum launched a mega fund worth AED 2 billion ($544 million) to help innovators and entrepreneurs fund their business ideas.
In addition, the emirate is also taking steps to become the 'smartest' city in the world by incorporating internet technology into different sectors.
To achieve these targets, the UAE government declared 2015 as "Year of Innovation" with the announcement of a national innovation strategy to make Dubai the world's most innovative city in the next seven years. The realization of this dream hinges on the working of Dubai Innovation Index (DII) and the $544 million Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Fund to Finance Innovation.
A recent report launched by Dubai Innovation Index (DII) and published by Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry ranked London as the most innovative city in the world, ahead of Hong Kong and Singapore. The same report ranked Dubai 16th among a list of 28 global cities, but the good news is that Dubai already beat Beijing, Shangai, Madrid, Sao Paulo, Milan and Mumbai in its quest for becoming the smartest city in the world.
The DII's primary role in this respect is to promote innovation, spread awareness regarding the UAE government's initiative and to increase private sector participation in helping the emirate meet its 2021 targets.
Talking about the reasons behind DII's launch, Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry President and CEO Hamad Buamim said the index was launched keeping transparency in mind.
According to the latest DII report, Dubai is doing fairly well in the fields of output and performance, but lags behind in the realms of intellectual property and collaboration with economic institutions to undertake scientific work. To overcome these weaknesses, the emirate needs to tap into its private sector to help it move at a steady pace towards technological progress.
Meanwhile, the Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Fund to Finance Innovation is another important part of UAE Vision 2021. The fund will provide financial support to innovators and help them transform their ideas into full-fledged businesses.
The fund will dole out money through commercial banks and financial institutions in line with set standards. Innovators looking for government funding should also be aware of the fact that only locally registered companies will receive financial help to build upon a saleable idea.
Per requirements of the UAE government, those ideas that are related to renewable energy, transport, education, health, technology, water and space field will be given preference.
Besides, Dubai is also covering major ground to become a 'smart' city by the time Expo 2020 kicks off. The Smart City initiative will work to improve the emirate's communications infrastructure in the hope of becoming a sustainable city by upgrading transport facilities, communications, infrastructure, electricity, economic services and urban planning. This will result in at least 1,000 government services being linked to the grid.
The UAE government has already taken the first step in this direction by upgrading official websites and introduced new apps that will make connectivity as easy as pie.
These reforms will help other sectors of the economy grow as well, including the real estate industry. The emirate's real estate market has a lot to offer to investors and digitalizing this sector will make it accessible to a bigger network of potential investors. For instance, UAE's smartest property portal Bayut.com has been an active member of digitalized property market and has carved a respectable name for itself by utilizing technology.
So far, Dubai government's initiative to digitalize governance has made a positive impact on police, municipality, healthcare, transportation, urban living and communications sectors. By the look of things, it is quite possible for Dubai to become a truly modern city by 2021, one that takes every step forward 'smartly'.