Viewpoint: Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum
Dubai’s economic resilience, reflected in the last half a century of development, has been built on our ability to embrace change. At a time when the global economy is going through a turbulent phase, Dubai continues to reinvent itself. We are actively working to shape the future, rather than just waiting for it to happen. Across multiple sectors, Dubai has been transforming itself by embracing cutting-edge innovation on a larger scale than it has ever before.
Dubai is hosting Expo 2020, the world’s biggest stage for innovation. The event will showcase the city not only as a hub for advanced technology, but also as a driving force for talent, creativity and collaboration. The expo will stimulate significant long-term growth and job creation by building lasting relationships across economic sectors. Expo 2020 and its legacy are expected to contribute Dh122.6bn ($33.4bn) of gross value added to the UAE economy from 2013 to 2031, according to an April 2019 EY report.
The site of the expo will be converted immediately after the event into an integrated community called District 2020, made up of start-ups, leading companies and entrepreneurs. Siemens has already announced that it will set up its new global logistics headquarters there. The District 2020 community will pilot many new applications of next-generation technologies and it will be one of the most connected places on the planet.
Technology is a key enabler of Dubai’s vision for the future. As part of the Smart City initiative, we are seeking to harness digital innovation and take it to a new level. Numerous service and product prototypes across the internet of things, blockchain, hyperloop, 3D printing, autonomous vehicles, robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) are being developed and tested in the emirate. We have set ambitious targets to deploy future technologies: Dubai seeks to be the first city to use AI-based electricity and water services, and by 2050, 75% of energy used in the city will be from renewable sources. It is also set to be the world’s first fully blockchain-powered city government by 2020. Today, Dubai is the highest ranked city globally for foreign direct investment (FDI) in artificial intelligence and robotics. However, technology will always be a facilitator and not an end in itself. Human well-being will continue to be at the heart of Dubai’s strategies. All our efforts are firmly oriented towards realising the vision of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice-president and prime minister of the UAE, and ruler of Dubai: to make Dubai the happiest city on Earth. In fact, Dubai’s ability to create an environment that promotes happiness is a key reason why it is a magnet for investment, entrepreneurship and talent. At a time when FDI levels are stagnating around the world, Dubai’s FDI rose 41% in 2018 to Dh38.5bn ($10.5bn). Dubai attracted more than 1000 millionaires from outside the country, surpassing Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Melbourne and Sydney, according to the 2019 Global Wealth Migration Report.
The emirate’s move to offer timely incentives to support business growth has also been critical in raising its investment appeal. Recently, Dubai introduced a set of initiatives to help small and medium-sized enterprises cut costs and boost public-private partnerships. This follows an initial package of incentives that were rolled out in 2018 to help businesses reduce operating costs, and announcements by the federal government to introduce 100% foreign ownership of projects in specific sectors and 10-year residency visas for investors and entrepreneurs.
These measures, which are encouraging businesses to adopt a longer-term view of their assets in Dubai, will further raise the emirate’s global investment profile, especially in the fields of innovation, technology, space, renewable energy and AI. I am confident that Dubai will continue to build a powerful value proposition as a city of the future. As it works to implement today what other cities will implement in 10 years, Dubai is set to become a major global hub for future industries.
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