SARAH AL MUWAD WRITES– The world’s first operational robot policeman does not need a visa, insurance coverage or hours of training, and is ready to interact with residents and millions of tourists. This body of bolts and nuts, standing at 170 centimetres tall and weighing 100 kilograms, can determine a person’s emotions and facial expressions.

Since Dubai’s model launch in 2017, the robot has evolved into a guardian of sorts whose aim is to assist and direct people in malls and streets, help fight crime, and keep the city safe. Dubai has been successfully transforming into a smart city by incorporating communication technologies so as to emerge as a global tech leader.

Like many other Middle Eastern countries, including Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, the UAE is hoping to reduce its reliance on oil by creating new ways to compete in the global economy. Technologies help the cause enormously. And so, the UAE government has been moving quickly to establish digital projects—for example, a digital government, or online platform that helps reduce in-person governmental exchanges and face-to-face employee interactions.

Dubai’s trajectory down the digital road began in in 1999, with the creation of its first Information and Communication Technologies strategy, followed by the launch of Dubai Internet City, Dubai e-government, and Dubai Smart Government. Then in March 2014, Dubai launched its Smart Dubai initiative, pursuing the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum. One of its strategies included adding technology to public services, improving city mobility by utilizing autonomous transportation technologies for increased productivity and efficiency, and reducing traffic. Other initiatives and goals include going paperless, so that 100% of internal and external customer transactions will be digitized starting 2021.

Another Smart Dubai initiative is called Startup Support. This will enable partners in the UAE government to collaborate in transforming Dubai into a “testbed” for entrepreneurs who initiate emerging technologies.

Under the smart city tab in 2016, the Sheikh announced plans to make all car rides in Dubai driverless by 2030. Thus was launched the Dubai Autonomous Transportation Strategy, aimed at transforming Dubai into 25% autonomous, meaning driverless, by 2030, and is calculated to save 22 billion ( $6 billion) UAE Dirhams in yearly economic costs. This project also aims to decrease transportation fees by 44%, and reduce both carbon emissions and in accidents.

Dubai already launched its first Dubai Autonomous Transportation Strategy project–driverless pods that will take you, and ten others if you wish, exactly where you want to go. The Sheikh tweeted: “ by 2030, 25% of all trips in Dubai will be driverless”.

The birth of smart cities indeed comes with a cost– taxi drivers will lose jobs, and huge car transportation companies such as Uber, and Careem (a transportation network company based in Dubai) will eventually run out of business. Government employees won’t be needed, resulting in increased unemployment and decreased consumer rates affecting overall. And that, of course, would be bad for business.

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