UAE has progressed phenomenally in the use of blockchain in various aspects covering life and governance in the country:
The UAE government is one that had officially adopted blockchain technology for governmental transactions and towards this it had launched the Emirates Blockchain Strategy 2021 and Dubai Blockchain Strategy. The former, announced in April 2018, aims to bring at least 50% of government transactions on the blockchain platform by 2021. The government is confident that blockchain technology will help save time, effort and resources and facilitate people to process their transactions at the time and place that suit their lifestyle and work. It hopes to save AED 11 billion in transactions and documents processed routinely, 398 million printed documents annually and 77 million work hours annually. The latter strategy is intended to help Dubai to be the first city fully powered by blockchain and make it the happiest city on earth. The plan has 3 pillars: government efficiency, industry creation and international leadership.
The Dubai Blockchain Strategy is a collaboration between the Smart Dubai Office and the Dubai Future Foundation. It will be a continuous process in exploring and evaluating latest technologies based on blockchain that will facilitate seamless, sage and impactful city experiences. In short, Dubai wants to become the happiest city on earth.
The strategy is expected to usher in economic opportunity for all sectors in the city, and consolidate Dubai’s position as a global technology leader, in line with Smart Dubai’s mandate. When the programs under the strategy are fully implemented, Dubai is expected to have the first blockchain powered government. And the cost savings are phenomenal. It is expected that Dubai will unlock 5.5 billion dirham in savings annually in document processing alone. Apart from the city getting benefited, the platform is also intended to share the technology with cities across the world.
Another blockchain-based effort in the UAE is the Dubai Blockchain Council, a venture of Dubai Future Foundation, which is mandated to explore, discuss current and future applications and organize transactions through the blockchain platform. The Council will facilitate transactions within the various sectors of financial and non-financial sectors as well as increase efficiency and reliability levels. The Council has 46 members, which include government entities, international companies, leading UAE banks, free zones, and international blockchain technology firms.
The UAE government’s entity responsible for overseeing blockchain projects in Dubai is the Smart Dubai Office. It aimed to make Dubai the blockchain capital of the world by 2020. But, in November 2017 itself, Dubai was named the ‘First Smart City on the Blockchain’ by the Smart City Expo and World Congress in Barcelona.
One of the visible efforts under blockchain technology in the UAE is SILSAL, the first blockchain-based solution in the ports industry. It helps to improve tracking and visibility in Abu Dhabi port, one of the world’s busiest ports. Built on a blockchain using digital technology and smart contracts, SILSAL enables the tracking of cargo without point-to-point integration.
Similarly, the Abu Dhabi Global Market, one of the Middle East’s leading financial centers, created one of the industry’s first KYC utility projects built on a blockchain platform to streamline the regulation process by giving all parties information about the customer.
Blockchain technology is also introduced in the Dubai Department of Finance so that staff members no longer have to physically go through payments collected from various portals and manually reconcile them. In this case, blockchain is a promising technology to yield huge time savings, and offer flexibility to accommodate various scenarios and requirements.
The Dubai Land Department is using blockchain to improve service, collaboration with other parties involved with the real estate market and create secured assets. The DLD can write end-to-end property transactions on to a real estate blockchain so that all participants involved in a given transaction have access to the pertinent information.
CENTER FOR C4IR
Dubai now has the new World Economic Forum (WEF) Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (C4IR), which demonstrates how far the country has progressed in building its knowledge economy with blockchain at its core. The think tank focuses on blockchain logistics and how best to incorporate the technology in the work of governance and legislation. It also focuses on how to lead on legal issues related to blockchain in the global context.
Similarly, the Dubai Blockchain Center brings together thought leaders, developers, investors, and educators to advance blockchain development and adoption in the UAE. It also provides specialized courses in Arabic and English on blockchain technology.
When covid struck, the UAE’s Ministry of Community Development (MOCD) has switched to using digital channels for government services, specifically blockchain systems and chat systems to complete requests. The MOCD said it has stopped receiving paper documents altogether through its customer happiness centers (UAE’s version of customer service center) and is accepting approved digital documents instead. It has been using blockchain for digital authentication of official certificates and other documents.