From the beginning we mention that we do not intend to publish travel impressions in Dubai … although all those who visited the Emirate were impressed by what they saw (some in a pleasant way, others maybe less pleasant … it’s a matter of taste).
We do not want to highlight the rapid evolution, in only a few decades and in only two generations of leaders, from a state deeply anchored in Arabic traditions and lifestyle to a modern state of today.
We do not want to make any assessments about the budgets that the government has at its disposal, or to “blame” it for this on the amount of oil in the area (especially as the richest emirate is Abu Dhabi, not Dubai).
Perhaps, reading this article, you will say that we have ignored the fact that most achievements have been obtained by well paying expats from all over the world and armies of workers from India and Pakistan. We do not deny this, nor do we condemn it.
What we want in this article is to show how quick vision and adaptation to the global economy context can help a state evolve fast and sustainably. We insist on the word ‘sustainable’, especially as we refer to a state in a region that has never been a reference in terms of sustainable development or in terms of long-term strategies for sustainable development.
In recent years, we had the opportunity to travel quite often to Dubai. We had the surprise of no longer recognising certain places at intervals of 2-3 months because of the emergence of new road junctions or motorway connections. We noticed how they managed to move a whole lot of the main highway in just a few months to make way for a navigable channel … and it happened without interruption of traffic.
We enjoyed the sun in some places so that, a few months later, enjoyed in the shadow in the same places because of new buildings rising very fast. We are convinced that many of us have experienced these … and that says a lot about how development is viewed in this state.
But all these are visible things. We want to talk a little about those that are less visible …
We have recently analysed several nations’ rankings in terms of innovation level. More or less, with +/- 1-2 places, the ranking of the top 20 countries looks the same every year. For Europe, the Scandinavian countries are present in all the rankings. USA and UK are also present. In the far east, Japan, Korea and Singapore are champions. Annual evolutions do not lead to a significant change in the ranking. Nothing surprising in this … surprising is the evolution of Dubai … annually advances with at least 5 positions.
Let’s put this in the global economic context. Whether we want to accept or not, the wave of robotics and artificial intelligence has come up and can not be stopped. It is a snowball effect that started to roll from the top of the mountain, it grows as it progresses and it will be impossible to stop (if anyone wants to stop it !!!) regardless of ethical, moral or tax issues raised at this moment.
One of the main consequences will be the repatriation of production for large corporations in the developed world, and perhaps from this point of view, the US President’s statements about bringing back home US large-scale production are not just empty words.
One of Dubai’s non-achievements is related to this issue. They have not convinced too many big manufacturers to invest in production facilities in Dubai and to create value in Dubai.
They have managed to become one of the world’s financial hubs, have managed to become one of the major business and commerce centres, have built a modern and computerised administration but they haven’t managed to produce enough value on their territory in order to ensure long-term sustainable development.
Robotics and artificial intelligence is their chance to accomplish this goal.And they chose to take advantage of it … this means vision. Moreover, they also took the first steps. We had the surprise to find out that Dubai recently has created a new Ministry (State Ministry for Artificial Intelligence) … and this means action.
It will be interesting to follow the evolution and discover the concrete consequences of the initiative. It is right that we can take as a reference similar initiatives that have been put into practice in recent years. For example, Dubai now has one of the most advanced and complete eGovernment systems (we can say also mGovernment) that has been implemented very fast since the launch of the initiative. We can also remember the initiative of autonomous electric transport or even the first “police officers” robots present on the Dubai streets.
The difference is that we are now talking about something much larger and with far more powerful implications for the future.
Time will tell if Dubai will succeed in becoming a world center of artificial intelligence, robotics and will be able to produce and export large-scale results. Undoubtedly, at this time, Dubai is starting to position itself increasingly on the map of the innovators. Probably it will not be long and the concrete results of this will also be seen.
Let’s wish them success …