Dubai Blockchain policy allows Smart Dubai to oversee all Blockchain implementations

The Dubai Future Council for Blockchain, chaired by Her Excellency Dr Aisha Bint Butti Bin Bishr, launched the Dubai Blockchain Policy at the 9th Smart City Expo World Congress, held in Barcelona on November 19-21, 2019.

The Council was formed by the Dubai Future Foundation (DFF) and held its inaugural meeting on April 2, 2019. It is part of the Dubai Future Councils initiative, launched at the beginning of 2019 by H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council, and Chairman of DFF’s Board of Trustees, to find innovative solutions for strategic sectors and forecast their future over the next 50 years. In its second meeting in July 2019, the Council presented and approved plans to work on three initiatives for 2019 and 2020: A report on Dubai’s Cryptocurrency Positioning, the Dubai Blockchain Policy, and the Future Landscape Report for Blockchain in Dubai.

“Guided by the vision of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai, to make Dubai the happiest city on Earth, the emirate has been steadfastly embracing advanced and emerging technologies to deliver an efficient, safe, and impactful city experience for residents and visitors,” said H.E. Dr Aisha. “Blockchain is undoubtedly one of the most prominent and promising of these breakthrough technologies. With that in mind, the Dubai Future Council for Blockchain sought to develop a policy to support government entities and private companies to implement the technology and form value-creating Blockchain networks.”

“The Dubai Blockchain Policy is one of three initiatives from the Council that are in the pipeline for 2019 and 2020. This launch advances the Council’s agenda to establish Dubai as a global Blockchain capital, and offer a prominent platform for exploring Blockchain-based solutions for the challenges facing the smart cities of the future,” Dr Aisha added.

The Dubai Blockchain Policy was drafted and launched following a meticulous process that included four consecutive stages. First, gathering and identifying challenges from multiple sources, including government entities and private companies, in addition to conducting a global benchmark on Blockchain policy development and implementation. The second stage was about identifying a set of focus areas to guide the development of the Blockchain policy, based on findings from stage one. The focus areas were grouped into three categories: Network Governance, Network Operations, and Foundational Capabilities (i.e. the underlying technologies and services).

The third stage consisted of a number of workshops that brought together 68 attendees, representing 20 government and semi-government entities, 12 banks, and 14 start-ups, to discuss requirements and options for Blockchain policies. The fourth and final stage evaluated the policy options against a set of guiding principles, including their ability to foster innovation, enable efficiency, and drive adoption of Blockchain. Furthermore, stage four examined potential policies’ compliance with regulations, their security and privacy features, and the extent to which they can be a ‘Technology Agnostic’ and future-proof.

The policy comprises three core areas, first of which is Foundational Capabilities, which covers technology platform and services, architecture and standards, shared network services, and legal support. Second, Network Governance, which includes several elements, namely, network ownership and membership, intellectual property, funding and monetisation, and network expansion. The third and final area is Network Operations, which covers data formats and interoperability, data privacy and confidentiality, node and network security, audit and compliance, and communication and adoption.

According to the policy document, the policy will apply to any Dubai Government Entities which intend to deploy Blockchain or to form a new Blockchain Network or join an existing one, Private Sector Participants that aim to join a Dubai Government Blockchain Network or a Government-hosted Blockchain Platform, Blockchain Networks and Platforms formed or hosted or joined by a Dubai Government Entity or deployed for a Dubai Government Use Case as the case may be. 

In addition to the functions assigned to it under the Applicable Laws and Regulations, SDO ( Smart Dubai Office) is hereby authorized to provide support required to enable Dubai Government Entities in the Emirate to effectively implement Blockchain in an efficient and correct manner that will result in the uniform implementation and application of Blockchain and, as such, SDO will have the duties and powers to: 1. approve all key plans and decisions in relation to Dubai Government Entities’ deployment of Blockchain and authorizing any deviation from this Policy to the extent allowed under this Policy, and coordinating where required with other Dubai Government entities or executive authorities; 2. oversee the implementation of this Policy to ensure alignment in Blockchain implementation and adoption by Dubai Government Entities and throughout the Emirate; 3. provide guidance on Blockchain and network formation in order to address implementation challenges and govern the formation of value-creating Blockchain Networks across the Emirate; 4. play a catalyst role in enabling Dubai Government Entities in adopting Blockchain Technology while ensuring compliance of this Policy and applicable standards issued pursuant thereto; 5. assign any Dubai Government Entity the role to develop and implement any required processes and procedures, standards, controls or requirements in implementation of this Policy as may be required generally, or in support of a specific Use Case, or sector application of Blockchain; 6. exempt any Dubai Government Entity from compliance with certain provisions of this Policy; 7. resolve any dispute arising between Dubai Government Entities in relation to the implementation of this Policy; 8. take the necessary measures regarding acts of non-compliance by Dubai Government Entities or Private Sector Participants with this Policy or any policies, guidelines, standards or implementation documents issued in implementation of this Policy; 

The launch of the Dubai Blockchain Policy complements Smart Dubai’s efforts to implement the Dubai Blockchain Strategy. Along with being Chairperson for the Dubai Future Council for Blockchain, H.E. Dr Aisha Bint Butti Bin Bishr is also the Director General of Smart Dubai – the entity leading the implementation of the Dubai Blockchain Strategy. Launched in 2016, the Dubai Blockchain Strategy seeks to make the Dubai Government the 1st in the world to conduct 100% of applicable transactions via blockchain by 2020. The Strategy revolves around three main pillars: Increasing government efficiency; industry creation; and securing Dubai’s global lead in the sector.

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