Check it out: du's Idea Hub for the smart cities of tomorrow

Plus: CommsMEA interviews a robot.
DU, Innovation, UAE, United Arab Emirates, Smart cities, Dubai, AI, Artificial intelligence, Pepper, ROBOTS, Machines, Tech, Society, Future, Technology

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Image: Pepper the robot. Photo credit: Ben Mack

du is ramping up its digital innovation efforts, with the launch of its Idea Hub.

Launched on a typically sunny Dubai day to a crowd of several dozen on the 35th floor of du’s headquarters in the Media City area, the event kicked off with a video presentation highlighting du’s desire to use the hub to help make the UAE “the smartest country in the world.”

The media launch followed a visit by H.E. Oman Bin Sultan Al Olama, the UAE’s Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, who was accompanied by a number of du executives and leaders.

The Minister said: “Our goal is to use AI to strengthen services and completely transform how UAE residents connect to the government.”

He said more. “It is imperative to not only refine current strategies, but also to invest in future opportunities. AI will allow us to offer a number of innovative use cases, including augmented and virtual reality, the Internet of Things, smart city applications and remote surgery, amongst many others, as part of the UAE’s Artificial Intelligence Strategy 2031.”

Osman Sultan, du’s chief executive, said somethings similar. He said: “We believe that ICT is our biggest opportunity in the future to enhance the UAE’s position as a global hub for tourism, commerce and, more importantly, as a happy place to live.”

He added: “We are heavily invested in leveraging futuristic technologies and platforms, building and deploying the Dubai Pulse platform, and collaborating with a variety of partners and pushing ahead with smart city use cases, deployments of innovative technologies, and pushing the boundaries of digital adoption and digital transformation in government entities.”

Jihad Tayara, du’s VP of ICT, expanded on Sultan’s words and the purpose of the hub. “We’re embarking on a digital transformation story,” he said, adding du has been involved in more than 25 smart services projects in Dubai’s Silicon Oasis, a 100% government-owned free zone that facilitates and promotes modern technology-based industries.

Tayara said ICT is the fastest-growing part of du’s business – and that it’s expected to continue to grow. “We’re building the digital backbone of the city.”

The timing for opening the hub was right, Tayara said, because customers were continuing to ask what du was doing in the ICT and smart cities space. “The main outcome is about engaging customers,” he said.

“It’s not just about innovation. It’s about showing collaboration. Innovation is the fruit of that collaboration.”

Partners for the Ideas Hub include Virgin, WiFi UAE, Datamena, Smart Dubai, and more. Said Tayara of the importance of collaboration, including with other telcos: “It’s really beyond telcos. We’re competing with all the digital systems integrators. And we’re partnering with them. It’s about collaboration.”

The launch also included a demonstration of Pepper, a robot which can show videos make hand gestures while speaking, and answer questions – and also be interviewed.

Said Pepper: “I can tell you many things.”

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