Dubai’s strategy for building a robotic future

At a time when the robotics revolution is seen as a source of increased productivity and economic growth, Dubai has launched a robotics and automation program led by the Dubai Future Foundation to develop its economy of tomorrow. This initiative aims to increase the contribution of this sector to 9% of GDP in the next ten years.

It was Crown Prince Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid al-Makroum who announced This program aiming to position the emirate among the top ten cities in the world for robotics and automation, while recent studies indicate that artificial intelligence could bring up to 13 trillion euros to the global economy by 2030.

“We know that the combination of mobility, robotics and artificial intelligence will radically change the way we move,” says Khalfan Belhoul, CEO of the Dubai Future Foundation. “It is known that in healthcare, advanced robotics will play an extremely important role in surgical procedures and operations and that the consumer and retail sector will give a large place to robotics,” he says before acknowledging: “In reality, we can only imagine the integration of robotics into our daily lives, when we go to the shops, to school or to the doctor.”

A set of policies to be implemented

Robotization lowers production costs, but also generates a greater diversity of goods and services and creates new jobs.

“It is part of the development of a service-oriented industrial sector – which Dubai and the Emirates are striving to establish -,” pointed out Scott LivermoreChief Economist and Managing Director of Oxford Economics Middle East. “If there is a comprehensive set of policies to support investment in robotization and automation and a continuation of policies to attract foreign investment and talent, then I think it can be a success,” he believes.

“As robots become cheaper and more skilled, they will enter the service sector, so logistics, travel and tourism, health or even hospitality, all sectors designated as key by Dubai are likely to reap some of the benefits of increased robotization,” he says before calling back: “What robots help to do is reduce costs.”

In logistics, robotization is already integrated

As part of this program, 200,000 robots will be deployed over the next ten years in services, logistics and industry. This potential is already exploited in the form of fully automated terminals at DP Worldthe world leader in logistics.

“Today we have several almost fully automated terminals, so this is the future, we have to go faster, move more goods and technology is the keystone of all this,” highlighted Sultan Ahmed Bin SulayemGroup Chairman and CEO of DP World. “In the container terminal now we operate the locks and undocking robotically,” he explains. “Many tasks were manual and dangerous in the past, but the intensity and volume of business, and the quest for productivity demand that we accelerate automation,” he judges.

“Aware” buildings thanks to artificial intelligence

The program launched by the Dubai authorities focuses on five areas: production and manufacturing, consumer services and tourism, connected mobility and logistics, extreme environments and health. The real estate sector could also benefit from significant economic spinoffs.

“The key element is to create conscious goods, that is to say intelligent: it is when a building tells you how it should be managed and maintained,” says Chris Roberts, Chairman of the Board of Singularious and Group CEO ofEltizam Group. “When it comes to creating a conscious city – and that’s what we’re trying to do right now in the Emirates -,” he continues, “It means the city as a whole is able to tell you how it should be run. To get there, you need data, automation and a slightly different environment than what we are in today and His Highness’ announcement allows us to get it in place much faster,” he believes. “By the way, by developing a conscious city, you reduce costs by 20 to 30%, the management of buildings becomes more efficient and the resources they use are also more efficient and in the end, it’s not one building that’s managed that way, but 3,000 skyscrapers in the Emirates that have that efficiency and kind of form a hub,” he imagines.

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Dubai’s strategy for building a robotic future


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