Dubai – A Model Of Excellence Driven By Innovation And Transportation Strategy

In April 2016, Dubai rolled out a 10-seater driverless prototype at the MENA Congress of International Union of Public Transport (UITP). In line with the vision of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed (V.P., P.M. of UAE & Ruler of Dubai) and driven by the Innovation Strategy, Dubai aims to become a self-driving future city by 2030. Dubai understands that a well-established public transport system is vital for sustainable development of an economy and is determined to be among the world’s most innovative cities and emerge as a global innovation hub.

Key Impact of SMART & DRIVERLESS Technology in Dubai

  • Switch 25 per cent of transportation to SMART technology by 2030
  • Become a SMART Mobility Hub
  • Raise the level of traffic safety
  • Rationalise the fuel consumption
  • Reduce Carbon Emissions

Dubai aims to switch 25 per cent of all transportation to SMART and Driverless by 2030 by integrating innovative technologies and by becoming a model of excellence for the region. Integrating innovative Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) into transportation facility will lead to the evolution of the transportation system in Dubai. It will also ensure that Dubai offers a global unique model for the city of the future by turning itself to the world’s largest R&D lab for driverless transportation.

Innovation Strategy – SMART Initiatives

Dubai has all the elements to speed up the transformation, especially in light of the ‘National Innovation Strategy’ launched by the UAE government and a series of initiatives launched by Dubai last year under the guidance of H.H Sheikh Mohammed. The government has embarked on setting up an institutional framework of innovation by establishing ‘Mohammed Bin Rashid Center for Government Innovation’ followed by ‘Hamdan Innovation Incubator’. In the recent past, Dubai has taken various SMART Initiatives.

  1. SMART Bikes is a green mode of alternative transportation that aids in easing of traffic congestion. SMART Bike UAE was launched in Dubai for people to get around the Business Bay area, either as a cyclist or passenger, by hiring bikes from kiosks located at various Metro Stations.
  2. SMART Schools initiative was launched by the Ministry of Education (MOE) by adapting the Mohammad Bin Rashid Smart Learning Program (MBRSLP) that aimed at transforming all 440 public schools into SMART Schools by equipping the classrooms with SMART Technology by 2020.
  3. SMART DEWA took various initiatives to enhance the quality of life and achieve sustainable development in Dubai by launching Sharms DubaiGreen Charger (Electric Vehicle Charging Stations) and SMART Meters.
  4. SMART Firefighting – Dubai Civil Defense (DCD) has signed an agreement with a New Zealand based firm Martin Aircraft for the procurement of 20 Martin Jetpacks for the fire fighters. This innovative product is expected to be highly effective in responding to high-rise tower blazes along with making Dubai the first city in the world to use the technology, further promoting the innovation culture in the UAE.

Economic Impact of Innovation 

  • Population Growth – The push to upgrade both technological services and infrastructure has been strengthened due to Dubai’s increasing population (both local and tourists). As of May 2016, Dubai’s local population has almost reached 2.5 million and is expected to cross 3.5 million by 2020. Likewise, Dubai is the fourth most visited global destination by tourists as it will welcome approximately 15 million tourists in 2016 and near around 17 million by 2017-18.
  • Economic Growth – Innovation strategy and projects will ensure the continuity of business activities in Dubai as the GDP will grow at 4 per cent (CAGR) between 2016 and 2020.
  • Economic Diversification – Dubai is considered as the Most Diversified Economy (MDE) in the world innovation strategy and projects will further facilitate Dubai’s economic diversification plan. To name the few, Dubai is focusing on health, medical tourism, innovation, IT and media.
  • Investments – Innovation strategy and projects will likely drive foreign investments in Dubai and UAE across various sectors of the economy which includes but not limited to IT, Logistics, health & medical tourismhospitalityretail and education.
  • EXPO 2020 – Introducing innovative projects, products and services will further bolster Dubai’s reputation as it prepares for EXPO 2020 expecting to welcome more than 25 million visitors between October 2020 and April 2021 and  add 35,000 hotel rooms to its existing 65,000 hotel rooms. In addition, the EXPO 2020 is projected to increase the number of jobs by 275,000 between 2016 and 2021, as Government spending will stimulate economic growth.

SMART Investment Opportunities in Dubai and UAE

Dubai is a perfect ground to propagate innovative business ideas. There is an enormous growth potential for SMART Investments in the city as Dubai is taking keen initiatives in becoming a SMART City. The business environment in Dubai and UAE is very conducive for investment as the country offers some of the most affluent consumers in the world along with business friendly regulations and zero income tax for businesses and individuals. Due to strong economic growth projected, Dubai could be considered as the most lucrative destination for future SMART investments.

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Authors – Waqas Hassan & Fathima Azeez

Author: RKonnect
The author is the Managing Director of Research Konnection, a Dubai based market research and consulting firm that helps local and international companies to identify emerging business opportunities and successfully expand in the Gulf region. The author can be reached at
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