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‘Innovation Talks’ charts Dubai’s path to sustainable future

by Dubaiforum

DUBAI, 8th February, 2023 (WAM) — The “Innovation Talks” series, organised by The Executive Council of Dubai, concluded today, with leaders from the government, business and the community highlighting how innovation can accelerate the nation’s journey towards a sustainable future.

Abdulla Mohammed Al Basti, Secretary-General of The Executive Council of Dubai, thanked the Mohammed bin Rashid Centre for Government Innovation for its pioneering role and constant efforts to promote a culture of innovation across the UAE.

Al Basti said, “Innovation is about creative minds collaborating together in an empowering environment. Dubai has become the best and most inspiring example globally for institutionalising the innovation process, which was first laid down by the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum through several mega projects launched. Innovation was further advanced in Dubai by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai. H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council, also continues to consolidate excellence and leadership in the city.”

“Over the last three days, we have seen an effective partnership model between the public and private sector in Dubai and how it can help transform innovation into a culture that enhances the UAE’s competitiveness. We all learned how innovation can help formulate strategies and unlock new achievements for some of the most successful government entities and companies,” he added.

Younus Al Nasser, Assistant Director-General of Digital Dubai, and CEO of the Dubai Data Establishment, opened day three with a speech exploring “The Role of Data in Innovation and Future-Shaping”.

Al Nasser said the Dubai Data Establishment supports policymaking with real-time, trustworthy data to shape the emirate’s future. The integrated system is inspired by the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid.

“We work under four main pillars,” he said. “The first is trust and partnership, shown through our cooperation with the private sector to share knowledge and achieve results. Data solutions is the second pillar we work under. We deal with it in innovative ways, so it can be used without infringing data privacy. The third pillar is regulating big data walls. In 2017, we launched a unified data portal with more than 900 databases that all companies and entities can benefit from. Finally, the most important pillar, is creating value by leveraging data for policymaking in healthcare, education, government administration, real estate, transportation and others.”

Al Nasser highlighted examples from successful case studies on data adoption and handling in Dubai. Confronting the COVID-19 pandemic using technology, databases and artificial intelligence represented a national and global success story, he said. This is thanks to the Government of Dubai’s support for the launch of a command-and-control centre. It integrated government efforts, providing real-time data to decision-makers on the evolving healthcare situation, medical stocks and expected scenarios that reached 90% accuracy, he added.

“What we achieved during the COVID-19 was possible thanks to the vision of Dubai’s leadership,” he added. “It gave us accurate and effective data to support agile decision-making. We have started sharing these achievements in research papers so others can benefit from and learn about our innovation during the pandemic.”

Mohammed Al Shamsi, Chief Officer for Climate Change & Sustainability at the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), said the UAE was one of the world’s first countries to make environmental protection and tackling climate change among its top priorities. DEWA is at the forefront of providing critical infrastructure through its electricity production capacity of 13,000 megawatts, and its water production of more than 490 million gallons per day.

Al Shamsi listed several sustainability achievements, including the deployment of 350 charging stations for electric cars, reducing water network losses to less than 4.5 percent and electricity network losses to 2.2 percent, which far exceed global averages. It also raised the percentage of renewable energy in its energy mix to 11.4 percent and recorded a milestone by becoming the first organisation in the world to use nanosatellites to improve its operations. It launched the first hydrogen pilot project in the Middle East and the world, and the impact of these efforts helped to reduce 73 million tonnes of carbon emissions between 2006 and 2021.

“DEWA has achieved a global impact with the Mohammed bin Rashid Solar Park, the largest single-site solar park in the world,” he said. “When completed, it will reduce 6.5 million tonnes of carbon emissions annually. Over the past five years, we have achieved the lowest global cost per kilowatt of sustainable energy and contributed significantly to Dubai’s success in reducing net carbon emissions by 21 percent in 2021.”

Al Shamsi added, “We need to raise awareness and promote education through events and communication on climate change and the UN SDGs. At DEWA, we are actively focused on 16 of the 17 goals set by the United Nations under its Global Agenda for Sustainable Development 2030.”
Manoj Nair, Head of Government Data & Analytics at Visa, and Nur Topcu, Head of Government Services at Visa, delivered a joint presentation on ‘The Power of Data for Effective Decision-Making’. Nair presented a new Visa case study highlighting how it can be used to make better decisions in the travel and tourism industry as it rebounds from the pandemic. Topcu spoke about how financial service companies can help governments use data to inform policymaking.

Nur Topcu also shared how Visa has worked with governments and banks to help them make better decisions, with a data centre in Dubai supporting strategic policy decisions in the UAE.

Tatiana Antonelli Abella, Founder & Manging Director of Goumbook, said: “In February 2022, we launched Dubai Can, a sustainability initiative to reduce single-use plastics under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid. It is a great example that shows how seemingly small changes can lead to innovations that contribute to a culture of conscious living.”

“If we do not engage the community, nothing will get done. We need to act as a tribe to engage youth, engage the government and engage society to press forward on urgent issues facing us all. These include quality healthcare, food security and ensuring humanity really does thrive in the next 100 years.”

Micheal Moqbel, Nadeera’s Head of Operations, added, “Today there are many technological and technically intensive solutions that can solve all types of social, economic, and environmental problems, including those related to climate change. The problem is that this focus on technology warps our understanding of the problem, it pushes the ownership on findings solutions to these problems from us to machines. While technology is a main driver of change – and one that should be celebrated and supported – humans must remain at the centre of innovation.”

Organised by The Executive Council of Dubai, the latest “Innovation Talks” series brought together heads and representatives of Dubai government departments, and experts from major private sector companies to discuss how they can work together to develop a common vision for the future. The talks series forms part of Dubai’s participation in the eighth edition of “UAE Innovates 2023”. It emphasises the importance of innovation, especially in providing services, increasing the effectiveness of procedures and keeping pace with recent technical and technological developments.

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