Smart Dubai & IBM launch the First Government Blockchain as a Service in MENA
New service to be delivered through an IBM Cloud environment built in the UAE
Organizations to benefit from keeping their data in-country and conducting transactions locally
Smart Dubai and IBM announced the launch of the Dubai Blockchain Platform today October 30th. Mr. Amr Refaat, General Manager, IBM Middle East and Pakistan when asked by UNLOCK confirmed that, “This is the first government-endorsed IBM Blockchain platform in the UAE and the region, which also conforms to the Information Security Regulation (ISR) standards from the Dubai Government.”
The platform will be delivered through an IBM Cloud environment and built locally in the UAE and will serve as a stepping stone for organizations in the UAE and globally to transition their blockchain testing and development into full production, and digitize applicable government processes and citizen services.
As for the role that IBM is playing, Mr. Refaat explains, “IBM was selected by Smart Dubai to build and launch the first-government endorsed IBM Blockchain Service in the Middle East, here in the UAE. IBM will build an IBM Cloud environment in the UAE in order to deliver the new blockchain service. This means that organizations in the UAE will be able to conduct their transactions locally, on a secure blockchain platform, while keeping their data in the country”
Dubai has been at the forefront in encouraging the use of blockchain with a vision to make the emirate a paperless government by 2021. As such Dubai has seen the launch of various blockchain applications in several government entities across different sector such as transportation, energy, healthcare and education.
The platform will conform to the Information Security Regulation (ISR)* standards issued by the Dubai Government. It will also be powered by IBM’s mainframe technology, LinuxONE™, which is capable of running more than 6.2 billion web transactions per day.
One of the first projects to be migrated onto the platform will be Dubai Pay, launched on 23rd of September. Dubai Pay the blockchain platform for settlement and reconciliation has decreased the time it takes entities to reconcile and settle payments from 45 days to seconds in real time.
Her Excellency Dr. Aisha Bint Butti Bin Bishr, Director General of the Smart Dubai Office (SDO), said: “Guided by the forward-thinking vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai, and the directives of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council, Smart Dubai has been moving rapidly towards our main objective of transforming the emirate into a full-fledged smart city that tops global competitiveness and happiness indexes.”
“Dubai has been a pioneer in blockchain technology since its inception, while other major cities around the world were reluctant to embrace it for city-wide implementation,” H.E. Dr Aisha added. “The Dubai Blockchain Strategy set a clear path for the emirate to have the world’s first fully digitized government by 2021. The Dubai Blockchain Platform we are launching today with IBM – who bring a wealth of insight and expertise in the advanced tech industries – drives us forward in our mission and allows us to power all blockchain applications in the city from one united portal.”
H.E. Wesam Lootah, CEO of the Smart Dubai Government Establishment (SDG), said: “As Dubai persists on its path to becoming a world leader in the industries of the future, Blockchain technology will occupy an increasingly significant status in Governments’ and organizations’ day-to-day undertakings, as well as in individuals’ everyday lives.”
“Blockchain is steadily moving towards becoming a multibillion market by 2019 and we, at Smart Dubai, have successfully embedded the technology in numerous services, and with the launch of the Dubai Blockchain Platform today, we will be one step closer to implementing Blockchain-powered services and experiences into citizens’ day-to-day lives,” H.E. Lootah concluded.
As for the sectors that will most benefit from this service offering today, Refaat believes, “ All sectors can benefit from this service. However, given the strict and sensitive data protection and compliance guidelines, we see the primary interest will be generated by the banking and government sectors”
IBM has already been a strong partner for Dubai government when it comes to their blockchain implementation. As Mr. Refaat states, “We have worked with the Department of Economic Development (DED) in Dubai to launch its unified corporate registry on IBM Blockchain. The aim of the registry is to digitize the process of issuing business licenses and exchanging commerce information for business owners, investors, entrepreneurs and start-ups, enabling them to conduct transactions digitally in real-time and in a trusted and secure environment. In addition we have also worked with Dubai Airport Freezone Authority (DAFZA) to transform and automate the free zone commercial licensing and renewal process.”