The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has launched the “UAE Blockchain Strategy 2021”, aiming to conduct 50% of government business at the federal level using blockchain technology by 2021. The adoption of blockchain technology is expected to save AED 11 billion (approximately USD $3 billion) spent annually on document processing alone.
The “UA Blockchain Strategy 2021” was set in motion by the Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, in presence of the Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Minister of Cabinet Affairs and the Future, His Excellency Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Gergawi, and a number of other ministers.
According to Sheikh Mohammed, the adoption of blockchain technology is expected to contribute to saving AED 11 billion (approximately USD $3 billion) spent annually on document processing alone.
Additionally, the strategy is expected to cut 77 million hours of work, trim government documents by 389 million, and reduce driven kilometers by 1.6 billion.
“The adoption of this technology will reflect on the quality of life in the UAE and will enhance happiness levels for citizens. 50% of government transactions on the federal level will be conducted using blockchain technology by 2021,” HH Sheikh Mohammed said.
“This technology will save time, effort and resources and enable individuals to conduct most of their transactions in a timely manner that suits their lifestyle and work,” he added.
The strategy includes four strategic pillars: citizen and resident happiness, government efficiency, advanced legislation, and global entrepreneurship.
The government will support university courses specializing in blockchain technology, and use training courses, events, workshops and reports to build its standing in the field.
In September 2017, the UAE government launched the “UAE Strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution” (4IR), aiming to strengthen the UAE’s position as a global hub for the Fourth Industrial Revolution and to increase its contribution to the national economy by means of advancing innovation and future technologies. Blockchain technology is one of the areas outlined in the strategy: “UAE seeks to enhance economic security by adopting digital economy and blockchain technologies in financial transactions and services”.
Dubai Blockchain Strategy
In December 2016, the Dubai government announced the “Dubai Blockchain Strategy”, establishing a roadmap for the introduction of blockchain technology in Dubai and the creation of an open platform to share the technology with cities across the globe.
The new strategy will contribute to increased government efficiency by enabling a paperless digital layer for all city transactions. Required documentation, such as visa applications, bill payments and license renewals, which account for over 100 million documents each year, will be transacted digitally.
It is estimated that blockchain technology adoption in Dubai will save USD $1.5 billion annually in document processing. Once fully implemented by 2020, the strategy is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 114 MTons, and redistribute up to 25.1 million hours of economic productivity in saved document processing time.
Under the new strategy, international travelers will benefit from faster entry with pre-approved passport and security clearance and visas; easier mobility within the city due to approved car rentals; guaranteed wireless connectivity; enhanced tourism and pre-authenticated temporary digital wallets and payments.
Several government agencies in Dubai have significant progress in the area.
In April 2017, the Smart Dubai Office has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Avanza Solutions to implement a citywide blockchain-based payments platform. In June, the Government of Dubai signed an agreement with a UK-based startup, ObjectTech, to develop digital passports for seamless entry at Dubai Airport, combining biometric verification and blockchain technology.
In October 2017, the Dubai Land Department (DLD) became the world’s first government entity to implement all of its transactions through blockchain technology. DLD has created a blockchain database that records all real estate contracts, including lease registrations, and links them with the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), the telecommunications system, and various property related bills.