Smart Dubai to announce results on 20 Blockchain use cases, results of ICO Cryptocurrency study for the government in Q3 and Q4 of 2018
H.E Dr. Aisha Bint Buti Bin Bishr, Director General of Smart Dubai sat down with UNLOCK to talk about the latest progress with regards to Dubai and the role of Smart Dubai in UAE’s Blockchain strategy as well as the upcoming cryptocurrency and ICO legislation.
Dubai Blockchain status
As of 2018 Dubai is implementing twenty Blockchain use cases across the city. As Dr. Bin Bishr states, “When we launched our project back in 2016 we sought in phase one to understand the technology, its effects, efficiencies and applicable use cases. In 2017 we chose 20 uses cases across multiple entities to provide a unique efficient seamless solution. By end of 2017 we had 20 use cases that we are assured will add value, and starting from January 2018 these use cases went into pilot phase or what we call proof of concept phase. In Q4 of 2018 we will see the results of these POCs and 2019 will witness full implementations.”
She added, “With advanced technologies you cannot go and implement unless you know the exact impact so we took our time and later on we will scale it across the city.”
Prominent Blockchain Use Cases
Dr. Bin Bishr explained, “When it comes to our use cases we have both horizontal and vertical use cases so the involvement is not only from governments but private sector as well. For example the Dubai Land Department Blockchain use case involves banking sector, DEWA, Dubai Municipality and others. In our horizontal use case we are implementing a Blockchain platform as a service which is more efficient than each investing in their own proprietary networks. As for the property use case, it involves buying or developing property and that needs approvals from DLD, Dubai Municipality, DEWA and even financing tools so banking ecosystem is involved and soon all this will be done with a press of a button.”
Another big use case is Dubai Economic Development Blockchain company registry service. As Dr. Bin Bishr states, “many businesses today are either registered in DED for mainland or free zone areas by connecting them all to the Blockchain businesses can easily move between the mainland and free zone with the press of a button adding efficiency and seamless experience.”
Role of Smart Dubai in UAE Blockchain Strategy
According to Dr. Bin Bishr, “We are very blessed to be in Dubai because whatever we do here becomes a pilot for the rest of the nation whether it was e-government, digital payments and now Blockchain. After our success in Blockchain, H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum the Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, and Ruler of the Emirate of Dubai announced the UAE Blockchain strategy. We are aligned fully and have the same pillars as that of the federal government. We are currently opening our use cases to be shared with federal government especially since in a lot of these cases the federal governmental authorities play a major role. This is specifically true when it comes to Blockchain implementations in economic sector and energy.”
Smart Dubai is working closely with H.E. Omar Al Olama Minister of AI (Artificial Intelligence) on the AI roadmap. Dr. Bin Bishr explains, “We have been selected to be a member of the UAE AI council and part of our role is to showcase our success stories in Dubai and scale it to other entities across the UAE.”
Cryptocurrencies and ICOs
Smart Dubai has been working extensively on the regulatory and legislative side when it comes both to Blockchain implementation as well as crypto-currencies and ICOs. Dr. Bin Bishr said, “We are focusing on legislation because it is integral to the sustainability of our implementations. First pillar we have touched upon is the policies and standards to operationalize our Blockchain strategy when it comes to data privacy, utilization of Blockchain etc. The other pillar is around the financial sector with the utilization of crypto-currencies and implementation of ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings). We are positioning Dubai government when it comes to this a today even globally there is no official policy or law in place for ICOs or crypto-currencies. We want to study thoroughly the implications these will have on our economy before we take a position on them. At the moment we will not see a Central Bank backed crypto-currency. Our study will be completed in Q3 of 2018. Our leadership is interested in this and has directed us to provide a thorough study.
Dubai Blockchain Ecosystem
The Blockchain ecosystem has been flourishing in Dubai and Dr. Bin Bishr is pleased with the number of Blockchain startups setting up in Dubai. As she states in the interview, “We are happy to see Blockchain startups setting up office in Dubai Design District, this is because they have witnessed how serious and sincere we are in our drive towards implementation. Moreover, our Smart Dubai Blockchain challenge saw a 100% increase in the number of applicants from 80 applications in 2017 to more than 200 in 2018. Many of these winners and others have then established a presence in Dubai and connected with government entities. This has also been enhanced with Dubai Future accelerator program where we saw companies such as Avanza who started in the accelerator now become full-fledged companies. Avanza helped to convert our lifecycle and payment settlement from 45 days to zero, since then we have contracted them to convert our entire governmental payment system onto the Blockchain. So companies in the accelerator have more confidence because they see the value behind it. Another Blockchain company which started in the accelerator is now working with Emirates airline on a loyalty program this is especially pleasing since it shows that private sector are now more willing to work with startups.
Private sector and Blockchain
The government usually propels new technological advancements but in Dubai the private sector is catching up quickly. Dr. Bin Bishr proudly comments, “ During the past year we have seen a tremendous move in the private sector, examples such as Emirates Airlines, ENOC ( Emirates National Oil Company), ADNOC ( Abu Dhabi National Oil Company) and retailers such as MAF (Majed Al Futtaim) are all currently in the midst of Blockchain implementations. Many private companies approach us for our blessing or consultation. Today we have a huge database of all technology companies and created an open global network platform to share this knowledge with everyone.
The Next Phase
As for the future Dr. Bin Bishr is looking forward to seeing how Blockchain, AI, IOT, and big data will all integrate into creating a happy Smart City. Dr. Bin Bishr, “we are blessed with our visionary leadership that has embraced technology. Big data will be digested by Blockchain and AI will produce new data. We look forward to seeing how all of these technologies complement each other as we map the city experience for a happier experience.”
Dr. Bin Bishr ends, “We are happy to have UNLOCK platforms and others in Dubai, having believed in Dubai as the capital of Blockchain and we hope to see you at your UNLOCK forum.”