Smart Dubai Office launches Blockchain initiative

Initiative with IBM and Consensys will develop blockchain projects across Dubai
Dr Aisha Bin Bishr said that the SDO initiative is an important part of Dubai's Blockchain strategy. (ITP Images)
Dr Aisha Bin Bishr said that the SDO initiative is an important part of Dubai's Blockchain strategy. (ITP Images)

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Smart Dubai Office (SDO) has announced the launch of a city-wide initiative to develop blockchain services for Dubai.

The initiative will aim to explore the potential for blockchain in public and private sector organisations and services, and develop pilot projects using the technology.

IBM has been appointed as the Blockchain Lead Strategic Partner for the initiative, and Consensys, a specialist in blockchain software technology, is the Blockchain City Advisor.

HE Dr Aisha Bin BIshr, Director General, Smart Dubai Office said: “Today’s announcement marks an important step forward in our commitment to delivering Dubai’s Blockchain Strategy announced late last year by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai. We are working towards our goal of making Dubai the first blockchain-powered government in the world by 2020. Collaborating with IBM and Consensys will help expedite this process, attaining Smart Dubai’s overall vision of making every-day experiences more safe, seamless, efficient and impactful for all residents and visitors of the city.”

The initiative, which is part of the Dubai Blockchain Strategy 2020, announced by Dubai Future Foundation, is one of the first of its kind in the world. The strategy is focused on three areas: implementing blockchain technology in government services, supporting the creation of a blockchain industry through empowering startups and businesses, and leading global thinking on blockchain technology.

The SDO initiative will begin with a series of blockchain workshops for public and private sector, which will both identify services that can be enhanced by use of blockchain, and to educate decision makers on the potential of blockchain.

Following on from the workshops, SDO expects public and private sector to collaborate to roll out pilot projects later in the year.

SDO will also design and build a shared Blockchain-as-a-Service (BaaS) Platform for Dubai Government entities to use for implementing their blockchain pilots and projects.

“IBM believes that blockchain will do for transactions what the internet did for information,” said Takreem El-Tohamy, general manager, IBM Middle East & Africa. “Dubai is at the forefront of adopting this transformative technology and our collaboration today demonstrates the government’s confidence that blockchain solutions will transform government service delivery. IBM will work closely with Dubai government agencies to create cross-entity blockchain services based on a shared secured ledger that establishes accountability and transparency while streamlining business processes.”

“Once again Dubai has demonstrated it’s fast forward, yet prudent, approach to defining and delivering services on the blockchain. In analysing, selecting and offering government services on interoperable blockchains, Smart Dubai will dramatically reduce wasted time, effort and resources, and accelerate commerce locally by greatly reducing friction at the interface of business and government and in citizen services and will therefore serve as a model for the world's civic governance. ConsenSys is honoured to serve as Blockchain City Advisor alongside IBM in their role as Lead Strategic Partner to put government services in Dubai on a more fluid, effective and transparent blockchain foundation," said Joseph Lubin, CEO & founder, ConsenSys.

SDO has launched the Smart Dubai Office Blockchain Challenge in partnership with global accelerator 1776 in February 2017 which aims to identify the most innovative blockchain ideas from startups around the world and bring them to Dubai to deliver impactful city experiences for residents and visitors alike. Moreover, SDO has launched in February 2017 the Smart Dubai Office Accelerator at the Dubai Future Accelerators with several promising start-ups currently working at the accelerator to innovate in the use of blockchain technology for shared Government services.

HE Wesam Lootah, CEO of Smart Dubai Government Establishment, said: “This effort will position Dubai as the pre-eminent Blockchain powered Government. Smart Dubai looks forward to work closely over the coming months with all Government entities to Identify and prioritize the services and user experiences that would yield the most impact from the application of blockchain technology. This collaborative effort is crucial to ensuring that the city as a whole is moving in the same direction, taking advantage of synergies, and avoiding duplication of efforts and costs.

“After a competitive and rigorous process, Smart Dubai has selected IBM as the Blockchain Lead Strategic Partner and Consensys as the Blockchain City Advisor for this effort as they have demonstrated deep technical expertise in blockchain, showcasing a strong commitment to support the development of the technology towards interoperability, a direction Dubai intends to pave the way for globally,” he added.

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