UAE, a global hub for innovation … from Hive Labs to Al Mamzar Park, UAE digital citizen PASS to the Noor Abu Dhab solar project
March 6, 2021
The United Arab Emirates is taking an innovative approach to address 21st century challenges. The UAE was ranked as the number one environment for innovation in the Arab World, according to the Global Innovation Index, a has been for the last five straight years.The country’s National Innovation Strategy, announced in 2014, encourages new thinking and groundbreaking solutions in seven priority sectors, with UAE youth playing a leading role in driving innovation. The UAE’s Minister of State for Advanced Technology Sara Al Amiri and Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence Omar Al Olama – both in their 20s and 30s – have mandates that focus in particular on advances in science and engineering.
From aerospace to defense to high-tech, innovative UAE-US partnerships are helping drive growth and development in both countries. Under an agreement between the UAE and NASA signed in 2020, Hazza Al Mansouri, the first Emirati astronaut and other UAE astronauts will train for future space exploration missions at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
Lockheed Martin’s Center for Innovation and Security Solutions in Abu Dhabi facilitates public-private partnerships and provides training for Emirati youth. And Mubadala-owned semiconductor maker GlobalFoundries, which employs more than 4,000 people in New York State, manufactures crucial technology used in computers and mobile devices.
State-of-the-art technology accelerators like Abu Dhabi’s Hub71 and Dubai’s Area 2071 are spaces designed to more easily to facilitate collaboration, boost startups in the technology field, diversify the economy away from oil and enrich the entrepreneurship ecosystem in the Arab region. And from the launch of the Youth Circles initiative in 2016 to the establishment of ideation spaces like Youth x Hub, the UAE is providing platforms for future entrepreneurs to shape innovative solutions to global challenges.
Every UAE government department now has a Chief Innovation Officer, and system-wide education reforms prioritize STEM curriculum and Research & Development. In 2018, Abu Dhabi launched The Innovation Hub, a first-of-its-kind model for the Middle East, to increase interest and participation in science and technology in the region.
Noor Abu Dhab
Noor Abu Dhabi is the world’s largest single-site solar project. It covers an area of 7.8 square kilometers and features more than 3.2 million solar panels, producing 1177 MW of DC power. The project enables increased production of renewable energy and reduces reliance on the use of natural gas for electricity generation, resulting in a carbon footprint reduction of 1 million metric tons per year, which is equivalent to taking 200,000 cars off the road.
This is a 60% government and 40% foreign joint venture with an intent to promote local and international investment.
The Noor Abu Dhabi project has many innovation aspects, such as the evaluation methodology, the usage of winding transformers with 500 MVA connected to a 220kV grid station, robots for cleaning and more. The station has 4 types of Monocrystalline PV (Photovoltaic) modules used: 355W, 360W, 365W & 370W where conversion efficiency is up to 18.57%.
Ajman Integration Framework
Department of Digital Ajman has developed a unified communication platform for all its anchor points that helps local authorities in the Ajman government and Federal Agencies, as well as the private sector, in the process of providing services in an integrated and coherent way. It also helps exchange data between the systems of participating parties smoothly and easily. This enables customers to get the services within one digital gate.
As a result, the platform created a “big picture” window for the integration map of 29 entities, which can serve 100,000 transaction per hour over 140 integration points. The Application Programming Interface is designed to support large-scale, multichannel digital scenarios, helping reduce costs, increasing efficiency and enabling 24/7 operations by consolidating back-end data sources into a scale-out, high-performance digital integration hub. Thus, when the second implementation phase was launched in 2019, 500,000 transactions were completed successfully.
The Ras al-Khaimah Public Prosecution Department (PPD) invented a device to provide all customers with an access to the services they want within a few minutes from anywhere in the emirate. The solution is an advanced kiosk formed by a printer, a scanner, an ID placeholder, a fingerprint reader, a camera and a full HD screen. Customers can use their UAE Pass and personal credentials to access the kiosk. The services are available in Arabic and English.
If a customer wants to access a service in a kiosk, they have to choose the language, enter the Emirates ID card and their fingerprint for identification. A customer should also enter the case number and type, if applicable, after which the services can be accessed via the interactive screen. The whole process takes from 15 to 30 minutes, including the fee payment and confirmation phase.
Thus, the kiosk helped to decrease the attendance rate of the customer in person to the PPD and increased the customer and the employee satisfaction rates.
3D Printing for congenital heart anomalies
Three-dimensional (3D) printing for congenital heart anomalies is a joint application of cutting-edge medical imaging technologies and emerging techniques of 3D design and printing in a clinical setting. The project provides examples and guidance that can be applicable in other fields of clinical medicine, helping transform the way surgery will be performed in the future.
3D modelling and printing greatly supports advances in individualized medicine and surgery providing surgical solutions drawn from 3D models to patients previously deemed inoperable. In congenital cardiac surgery, 3D models and printed prototypes offer advantages of better understanding complex anatomy, hands-on preoperative surgical planning and emulation, improving communication within a multidisciplinary team and patients. The solution often adds important new anatomical findings and prompt alternative operative scenarios.
for technical and management operations related to forensic processes. It is used to manage digitally 207 types of tests within one automated laboratory system. It can be used to collect requests from all police stations across the UAE, where it is currently providing a full range of services to Abu Dhabi and limited services to other emirates. It is an end-to-end platform to integrate all processes and services of the forensic department directly to customers.
The program includes a number of subsystems, the most important of which are the quality system, storage management system and the system for monitoring the competence of workers, in addition to all administrative and technical processes for forensic evidence checks.
The system has helped to reduce around 34000 hours of work within 6 processes, leading to 8.6 million AED savings per year and bringing multiple other tangible and intangible improvements.
FEDLIMS is highly related to the strategic priority of Abu Dhabi Police “Combatting Crime” (ADP1) particularly the strategic objective: “Optimal use of forensic evidence” which is consequently linked with the strategic objective of the Ministry of Interior: “enhancing safety and security”. The system has expedited the transfer of applications, data and test results through an electronic system ensuring confidentiality. This contributes to combating crime in a faster way that serves to enhance the security and the safety of the country.
In addition to that, the system is also linked to the 5th strategic priority of Abu Dhabi Police (ADP5): “ A policing organization that is managed effectively and efficiently”, because it is related to the strategic objectives: “ Effective management of operations”, “ Effective financial management”, “ Developing effective partnerships” (because the project is related to partners such as Judicial Department and other police entities) and finally the objective related to the governance.
UAE PASS is the first national digital identity for citizens and residents of the UAE. The mobile based digital identity, accessed through a smartphone application, enables all registered individuals to access more than 5,000 government, semi-government and private sector entities’ services through their respective websites and apps, It allows to digitally sign documents and transactions and provides a digital vault feature, which allows users to request and store government issued credentials and documents for usage in recurring transactions.
Originally verified only through card and fingerprint scanning, the digital identity will soon be securely verified through Facial Recognition technology, making the UAE the first country in the world to authenticate a national digital ID fully virtually. With UAE PASS, over 250,830 verified users can connect with more than 95 different entities across all of the emirates. Currently, more than 5,000 services can be accessed through 200 different channels and Smart Dubai is continually working to connect more entities and services to the platform.
Criminal Map is a solution that is used to visualize data, analyze and assess criminal behavior over geographic space, while delivering statistics based on city, crime, nationality, gender, age and education level. Examining where crimes occurred determines which areas attract offenders and where unknown offenders may reside.
The solution adopts AI and big data to analyse over 10 thousand cases in the electronic criminal system to build heat maps for analysing risks and tends, decision-making, following the chronology of the procedures, creating statistics and crime prevention.
The solution helped build more than 33 reports submitted to Attorney General and gave more control in managing the workload in all prosecutions. More than 12 precautionary measures were taken based on supplied data. Also, the rate of theft crimes reduced from 2,220 in 2018 to 1,823 in 2019.
AD Locker/My Wallet
The AD Locker, as part of TAMM initiative under the Government Accelerators Programme Ghadan 21, provides a platform that consistently combines different kinds of information across the government entities, including user documents and payments.
It is a centralised platform that pools user’s information and documents in once place. It collects up to 50 different types of digital documents, provides a platform to carry out more than 70 payments and follows up the status of around 350 services provided by Abu Dhabi government entities.
To retrieve and re-use user documents, it uses blockchain as part of the distributed ledger concept that eliminates bureaucratic, time-consuming paper work.
Using digital documents eliminates allows to pull the necessary information and makes the necessary updates accordingly. Through AD Locker, a user can update, cancel or renew documents with no need to visit a government entity. A user can see real-time updates and solve his enquiries on AD Locker. It sends immediate notifications after changes and can trigger a follow up action if needed.
Attestation Digital Platform
The solution represents a digital platform with a comprehensive list of all Judicial Department services that can be automatically filled into the pre-approved templates submitted by customers instead of open text spaces for manual submission. It also allows to use the Emirates ID card to automatically fill in the sections of the forms related to personal information.
For example, to issue a notarization certificate and representations, the platform extracts the personal details from the ID card and sends an application for approval automatically. The platform also provides customized versions of the documents to be attested as needed by the requesting entities. This reduces the possibility of issuing certificates that may not be compatible with the requirements of other entities.
As a result, the usage of paper was reduced by 90%. Also, electrical energy consumption reduced, as well as visits to service locations and transportation. The customer happiness rate increased to 95.7% due to reduced waiting time, reduction of error and increased efficiency.
DED Blockchain Initiative
The DED blockchain-based solution is a collaborative effort of the relevant entities to streamline the process of setting up and operating a business, roll out digital exchange of trade licenses and related documentation for all business activities, and ensure regulatory compliance across Dubai’s business ecosystem.
The Innovation Project is phased to cover all key stages of customer journey in obtaining the business license including “Operations Commencement” during the post setup stage as well as all critical requirements related to operating a business, e.g. license information sharing, opening bank account, participation in foreign trade, conducting end-to-end transactions.
The project is integrated and synchronized with existing registration systems of participating licensing entities and connectivity to other blockchains. The flexible design of the blockchain network enables a consortium member to join the network based on their infrastructure hosting preference.
Currently the innovation has the information about the Company Registration, Trade Name, Business License, Business Activities, License Members, License Address, and Contract Details.
Electronic Family Book
Most of the government entities around the UAE are required to deal with the family book, which contains information about Emirati national’s family members. The Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) solution is to provide an electronic platform, where government entities can connect and extract the family book data automatically. The data is retrieved as metadata with auto-verification. This helps to eliminate the risk of fraud and data entry errors.
All services related to the family book are automated and digitized, making them available through the mobile application and the ICA portal. This allows users to view, edit and apply for the services at any time without the need to attend the service centers for submitting their application.
The solution significantly helped to facilitate the family book data exchange between government bodies and UAE citizens electronically without the need for paper registration, reducing the queues of customers at service desks and helping ensure the maximum level of security, integrity and reliability by using the Emirates ID and storing the family book details inside a SIM card.
Portable Computer System
Abu Dhabi City Municipality established a complete system for transferring different surveying data between the office and the field and vice versa.
The Portable Computer System is an innovation that enhances daily surveying processes by automating all stages of office and field work activities, which further increases productivity and time efficiency. It also enhances current processes by means of adopting the latest state-of-the-art software and hardware, allowing to perform daily duties more efficiently.
The solution, involves a physical mobile device to be taken into the field providing access to 8 services related to plot showing, setting out, tools checking and surveying.
As a result of broad implementation of the technology, the number of transactions done by a single surveyor has doubled. The number of transactions lasting over 2 days decreased from 12,084 in 2018 to 2,084 in 2019. The quality of data increased significantly by reducing human errors in typing and generation of automated reports with 100% transparency, leading to the reduction of paper usage to 0%.
Chatbot for Tenancy Contract services
In order to decrease the effort, cost and time needed to manage a Tenancy Contract, Al Ain Municipality developed a chatbot that is based on an AI platform containing all ata related to the service of registration of rental contracts and general information. The virtual agent can handle multiple user queries at the same time with no time lag. The bot can collect authorization remotely by, for example SMS, and update user data through integration with federal authorities.
It can understand customer inquiries and questions as well as learn from each transaction using Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning. The chatbot is able to access information through multiple sources, finalize transactions with customers, and escalate complex queries to customer service agents.
The chatbot can be made available through the municipality website, the mobile app, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp for Business. When fully launched, the solution is expected to increase the service availability time and reduce the time of service completion, in addition to improving customer journey.
My Rights Game App
My Rights is a mobile application game that is based on international human rights standards for children and laws of treatment of children in the UAE, focusing on three aspects: right for education, right for health, and right for security. It targets children 4-12 years old and educational institutions. It is direct and simple, which makes it attractive. It is designed to allow a child to learn gradually as they pass different stages of the game.
Children currently spend a lot of time on smart devices, which are more influential in building their personalities and enhancing their knowledge in comparison to traditional learning methods. Thus, it becomes easier to deliver CDA messages by providing good content for a child, cultivating the basic values of human rights and presenting them in a way that is entertaining.
The game has been displayed in multiple venues and on many events. As of 30 Sep 2019, 4541 downloads have been made. Surveys have shown that the application has helped increase children awareness about their rights in the selected areas.
Smart Rehab Lab (Robotic Therapy Laboratory)
The Smart Rehab Lab is the first integrated project in the Middle East where 11 robotic devices are taking the responsibility for providing most of the rehabilitation services needed by people of determination. The lab serves over 100 clients from different age groups, providing intensive physiotherapy and occupational therapy services with help of high tech, AI and robots. It allows to provide the required exercises with the support of stimulating VR games.
The patient is evaluated and treated with the help of smart therapeutic programs and automated limbs that mimic the patient’s limbs (arms and legs) in all joints and movements. Each movement is tracked by wearables that synchronise with the computing systems that use AI to adjust the training in real time based on responsiveness of the patients.
As a result, the lab has helped to increase the number of beneficiaries, improve the quality and efficiency of work, save costs and reduce paper consumption, among other benefits.
Dugong and Seagrass Research Toolkit
The Dugong and Seagrass Research Toolkit is an initiative by the Environmental Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD), Total, Total Abu Al Bukhoosh and the UNEP/CMS Dugong MoU that provides an easily accessible online decision-making tool to guide the selection of specific dugong and seagrass research recommendations to adopt in specific circumstances.
The toolkit is openly available online to multiple researchers and organizations with mandates for coastal and marine research and conservation, considering the threats and human community factors. It supports researchers in the process of setting and refining their objectives, while considering overall conservation management goals and budgetary restraints, as well as factors such as time scale, spatial scale, technical capacity and specific challenges on the ground.
In order to use the tool, a user has to open the designated website, press ‘Launch Toolkit’ and follow a simple process tree that leads to practical recommendations. Since launching in March 2017, the website was reached by 3,200 users from 119 different countries for a total of over 10,000-page views.
Hayat’ is a free-of-charge application that can be downloaded on smartphones on iOS and Android platforms. It has a vast database of organ donors and potential recipients throughout the UAE, which is linked to the licensed public and private hospitals throughout the country.
The application uses AI and blockchain to store the data of people wishing to donate their organs after death and use it when appropriate in the most effective way. The application also allows registered users to receive the latest news about the overall state of organ donation in the UAE and various related activities.
Organ donation and transplantation programs have saved the lives and improved living conditions for 62 people in the country. Moreover, 27 organs were donated to patients in KSA. As of today, there are 1,515 available potential donors, and the numbers are constantly increasing.
The Donation Cards aim to replace traditional donation channels that are widespread in Dubai. The traditional way of donating money is through physical desks and donation boxes in supermarkets, malls, government buildings, etc. IACAD introduced cards that are placed near supermarket cashiers, allowing customers to buy them as another consumer items bundled within their grocery purchases. In addition, each card has a very specific typology and does not represent a generic donation to the charity, instead helping to allocate a donation to a specific cause. The donation is settled directly by the supermarket to the charity, without triangulating the money through IACAD or other organizations.
The Donation Cards allow to reduce several cost items associated to the traditional donation desks and improve the logistics associated with cash donations. Additionally, hey are reusable: a cashier puts them back on the display shelf, reducing the number of printed cards. In a two-month pilot conducted within one supermarket branch, there were 330 donations registered using this new donation mechanism.
Distributed Acoustic Technology
RTA was the first Metro worldwide to utilize the Distributed Acoustic Technology in Metro systems with the fiber cables that have sensitive vibration sensors. The technology uses optical fiber to act as both the sensing element and the transmission medium along the 80 kilometer metro railway. The optical fiber sensors allow operators to detect in real-time any item drop on the rail track. Centralized notifications are enabled at the Operations Control Center (OCC), enhancing operational efficiencies.
The technology serves to detect obstacles fallen on the track in real time, improving the safety level of railway operation. It gives an operator the location and size of the obstacles, allowing for the necessary action to be taken, such as stopping the train service if required. It is also used to detect and trace the movement of any noncommunicated vehicle on track.
The system is also used to identify track defects, train wheel flatting or defects, leading to improved incident handling of intrusions in the railway track environment.
Smart HR Kiosk “HR Pulse”
Smart HR Kiosk is a smart device designed to provide all services and operations related to human resources for the benefit of Dubai Sports Council staff 24 hours a day, working as a ‘virtual employee’.
HR Pulse provides more than 43 services in the categories of General Information, Recruitment Documentation, Forms and Reports, HR Policies and Laws, Certificates and Personal Documents. As an example, the kiosk provides work certificates, salary, experience and no-objection documents in both Arabic and English.
All services and documents are available within (30) seconds. An employee can update personal information whenever necessary, without going to the HR section. An employee can send a relevant document directly to his email through the system.
Documents can also be scanned using the kiosk. It can identify an employee by entering the job number or using an Emirates ID card.
E-Inspection Chat Bot
The E-inspection Chat Bot is intended to provide 24/7 support and enhance customer experience by introducing a quick and effective channel that can offer direct oneon-one communication between businesses and DCT establishments, effectively automating day to day tasks.
The innovation combines leading AI and cognitive services from Microsoft. It is applied to various use cases, including the retrieval of establishment’s details, viewing its inspection history and outcome reports, current star rating of the establishment, receiving clarifications, self-inspection, proposing inspection plans, viewing and providing documents, incident reporting, communication between DCT and the establishment, and more.
From its deployment, the chat bot has been able to achieve over 95% excellence in customer satisfaction. It has helped to reduce time spent on accessing services and communication by 50%. Also, it allowed to reduce the number of violations, improving the performance in compliance with respective regulations and standards.
Smart Park – Al Mamzar
Dubai Municipality created a park that not only brings new colours, plant varieties and facilities, but also incorporates multiple technological elements to decrease pressure on the natural environment and improve visitors’ experience.
As an example, different solutions such as smart benches, smart irrigation and smart oases are used to reduce the environmental impact.
Visitors can use a smart application to take a 3D virtual park tour and get notifications about ongoing events. They can also use VR glasses to learn how to care for plants. To provide a safe environment for children, parents can track the locations of their children using smart bands. Additionally, the park provides unmanned drones for rescuing drowning people.
Data is regularly collected using artificial intelligence to help manage the park effectively. As a result, Al Mamzar Park has been able to achieve an increase in visitor satisfaction with improved quality of service, bringing 1.5 million visitors in 2019. It has also reduced water consumption and agricultural maintenance cost, while increasing the total agricultural area.
Maqta Gateway came out as a result of an internal innovation process of Abu Dhabi Ports. In 2016, it evolved into a wholly owned subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Ports and became a central pillar of the company’s strategy to be a leader in the development of integrated, digital, global trade. It has served as a platform for innovation within the organization, leveraging the Port Innovation Lab to support the development of innovative solutions and to serve as a space to interact with internal and external stakeholders.
Maqta offers ports, exporters, importers, shipping lines, customs and government agencies a single point of contact and real time information at any time of the day. It is also the developer and operator of the first Port Community System (PCS) in the UAE, which is designed to facilitate trade, streamlined processes and operations within the community.
The system is currently operational in 5 ports, 54 private jetties, integrated with 20 shipping lines, and covers 100+ services from seaside to hinterland. It is the first solution in the Middle East to achieve PCS-to-PCS Integration and is integrated with 3 single windows and 11 ports in China, Belgium and Spain.
The DMT’s Strategic Transportation Evaluation and Assessment Model (STEAM) is a sophisticated multi-modal travel demand tool that uses AI and Big Data analytics to support the decision-making process in Abu Dhabi. The model uses demographic and economic information in addition to numerous sources of data from surveys, traffic systems and external stakeholders.
STEAM is the official tool for Abu Dhabi Emirate to make informed decisions about land use and development, the transportation system, and transport policy changes. It is able to model travel demand patterns across the transportation system for any combination of scenarios in the forecast horizon years (2020, 2025, 2030 and 2040).
The model is used by many internal and external stakeholders to study infrastructure requirements and to plan the future of the transportation of the Emirate. This tool has been successfully used to test over 60 Billion AED worth of schemes, policies, and initiatives (e.g. whether and when to expand a road, build a tunnel, implement a toll, or build a metro). Initially started in 2012, but significantly improved over the years, this innovation sustains a satisfaction level above 90%.
The Hive Labs is a space that takes into account several factors that subconsciously have a positive influence on the participant’s mindset to encourage a more energetic, positive and creative behaviour. These factors include room dimensions and shape, the colour choices, the furniture, the quality of light, food, aroma and planting.
Aside from the physical environment, the Hive prompted the development of the ADNEC Meeting Format Directory with certain styles of unconventional conferencing techniques to reinforce the commitment of the venue to assist clients in having better events.
The key difference between the traditional venues is in the delivery. ADNEC is assuming a consultative approach to enhance the end user (participant) experience, by assigning a dedicated ‘Experience Manager’ to play the combined role of event planner, concierge and innovation champion.
Since its launch, the Hive has opened a totally new dialogue with clients where the venue is actively contributing to making events meaningful. The Hive has introduced many new clients to ADNEC.