[WATCH] Dubai: the city of the future with Dr. Marwan Al Zarouni at AIBC Europe 2021

Category: Executive Interview

CEO of Dubai’s Blockchain Centre and internationally recognized advocate of Blockchain-backed technologies, Dr. Al Zarouni led a keynote reflecting on Dubai’s work towards becoming a pillar of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Starting off, Dr. Al Zarouni began by shedding a spotlight on the frontier of emerging tech. With firms specialized in Blockchain, cryptocurrencies, the metaverse, NFTs, DeFi and the recently coined DeFi 2.0 all converging on the city, he stated that Dubai was the place to be for the latest developments in a wide portfolio of disruptive technologies. Dr. Al Zarouni then moved towards the latest development in the space, the rise of GameFi. With the metropolis spearheading many of these advancements, he reiterates the forward-thinking culture of the city and the broader Emirates.

Moving towards the government infrastructure in place to create the perfect ecosystem for innovation and technological advancement, Dr. Al Zarouni refers to the “Ministry of Possibilities.” This novel ministry is a virtual institution that draws from a broad variety of experts and thought leaders to come up with holistic solutions towards novel issues and to create an environment conducive towards creative disruption. He also personally endeavored to organize the first Blockchain Conference in Dubai back in 2014 which involved pioneers such as Eric Vorhees, Paul Snow, Greg Simon and Austin Alexander amongst many more, all of which was orchestrated with the support and blessing of Dubai’s government.

The UAE administration also fully embraces sustainability goals with the entire government both pledging to and succeeding in going completely paperless under the auspices of the Digital Dubai, a state authority taking a leading role in the upgrading of the administration’s capabilities through advanced technology. Reflecting on the principles that allowed for this level of political mobilization, Dr. Al Zarouni argued that the three main pillars of this transformation have been technology, regulation and legislation. These three factors united to create a culture of innovation that has helped propel the city’s prominence on the global stage as a beacon of progress and possibly even a sign of things to come when it comes to the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

As an early advocate of the Blockchain, Dubai has been instrumental for the nascent industry’s success.

Referring to Artificial Intelligence, which he identified as an area with extreme potential in the near future, he argues that we must also focus on the practicalities of AI-use and not just its technology. To this end, the UAE has inaugurated its first Minister of AI. In terms of ethics, he argues that the development of policy must be holistic and involve not only economic and technological perspectives but ethical and social ones as well. The sheer disruptive potential of these technologies by necessity requires that a council is empowered to ensure that the implementation of this technology is done in a way that benefits the whole of society. To this end, Dr. Al Zarouni noted that his presence on the board of AI ethics and the digital divide allows him to play a leading role in policymaking. He also noted that the more perspectives contributed to the creation of the policy, the better, hence he extended a hand to any interested parties to contribute in the position as individuals, thought leaders or even representatives of nations.

Between the appointment of a minister for AI and the full digitization of its infrastructure, the administration of the UAE has been a key figure in the development of the nation.

He next moved towards the prominence of Blockchain within the city’s infrastructure.

Dubai is already a city fully powered by blockchain for all the applicable use-cases of the technology. For example, our land department’s already on the blockchain. Like I said, we’re moving all the paperwork and industry creation [on the Blockchain] while creating the ecosystem for the country as well as bringing in the thought leaders from across the world and creating international leadership in the space. All the bigger players actually either have a representative in Dubai or actually live in Dubai right now. The UAE level blockchain strategy was also set by the minister of finance, which you see in the video right now, and also the minister of economy and all the different ministries who actually drive this on a regular basis.

He has not only collaborated with the leading cadres of the UAE’s government but also with the World Economic Forum to forge a path forward in terms of Blockchain and its implementation in public systems. He also noted the need to bridge the education gap when it came to emerging technologies and regulators. In order to be able to create regulation that can straddle the thin line between due diligence and the snuffing out of innovation, regulators must be made aware of the nuances of the technologies and their potential in terms of creative and productive disruption.

If you haven’t tried blockchain technology, you will never understand how it works. Looking at it as an outsider is not the same as you being on the inside and investing your money and trying the wallets, trying the DeFi space, trying the games that are actually based on this kind of technology.

He also elaborated on how he also prioritized formalized education when it came to areas such as the Blockchain with an agreement being signed between the Blockchain Centre, the University of Nicosia and the British University of Dubai which included the executing of practical projects which use Blockchain technology for records, record keeping and notarization as well as the creation of an NFT platform.

He then moved the audience’s gaze to the stars by referring to how the nascent space industry could have extremely powerful benefits for society as a whole. 2021 saw the first ever UAE mission to Mars which formed part of an initiative by the greater Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre. He also referred to Dubai’s success in the field of biotechnology with their efforts in the space being a vital pillar on which the war against the COVID-19 pandemic was fought.

Finally, he referred to one of Dubai’s greatest achievements, the fact that its rank as one of the smartest cities of the world and the winner of several Smart City Awards. He also backed the initiative to create a global network for smart cities with Digital Dubai spearheading efforts to connect smart cities around the globe. He also extended a hand for any who wished to participate in the broader initiative. He concluded with a call for unity when it came to a drive for the economy of the future.

Without working together, we can never achieve great things. Working in isolation will never get you anywhere in Dubai. We are a melting pot of different cultures and different nationalities, all working together to create this symphony and harmony between us all to work towards a great goal that we can all achieve, which is in pushing humanity forward.

For more enlightening panels from AIBC Europe 2021, click here.

AIBC returns to the United Arab Emirates:

Drawing the leading figures of the emerging tech world to the Middle Eastern metropoles for cutting edge technology, the 2022 AIBC UAE expo plans to unite the policy-makers, developers, C-suite executives, and legal experts of the burgeoning AI and Blockchain sectors. Through three days of educational panels, inspiring keynote speeches, workshops, and networking events, the expo seeks to create the foundation that the Industrial Revolution 4.0 can be built upon. Join us from the 20th to 23rd March 2022, in UAE.

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