Smart city vision
The government recently launched the UAE Strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which aims to strengthen the UAE's position as a global hub for the Fourth Industrial
Revolution and to increase its contribution to the national economy by means of advancing innovation and future technologies.
Aims include: enhancing economic security by adopting a digital economy, optimising the utilisation of data in planning future cities, and developing advanced industries in the field of robotics and autonomous vehicle technologies.
Dubai is already preparing for this industrial change. “Dubai wants to create an ideal home for its citizens, and a unique destination for the thousands of businesspeople and
tourists who travel here every day. But Dubai’s city shapers can’t rely on 20th century techniques to realise this vision. Digitising the design and management of the city and its structures is therefore central to achieving Dubai’s environmental, emotional and economic objectives,” says Tompkins.
Implications of new technologies for real estate
So, what impact will it have on the MENA region’s real estate? On its path towards a smart city and a paperless society, the UAE has been quick to acknowledge the potential of
technology and have been pioneers in adopting it in the region.
Tompkins says that until now, the MENA economy has relied heavily on hydrocarbons but thanks to the fall in oil price and mounting pressure to wean cities and industry off
fossil fuels, MENA governments are diversifying away from these highly liquid industries.
“Cities across the GCC are responding by repositioning themselves as destination cities – as great hubs to conduct business and for tourists to explore Middle Eastern culture. This is driving the need for maturing, evolving and innovative real estate markets in these rapidly changing and growing cities. We are starting to see more transactional
activity in the real estate sectors and this is focussing attention on the many stages and relationships needed for a property transfer,” he says.
In 2016, Dubai launched its Dubai Blockchain Strategy, which aims to make Dubai the first government in the world to apply all transactions through this network by 2020,
the Dubai Land Department (DLD) created a smart and secure database that records all real estate contracts. This makes DLD the first government entity in the world to implement all its transactions through the blockchain network. It’s unsurprising, Dubai has made no secret of its goal to become a smart city.
DLD will use a blockchain system it has created to produce a secure database that records all real estate contracts, including lease registrations, and links them with the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, DEWA, the telecommunications system, and various property-related bills.
“While still in its infancy, blockchain technologies could help in increasing the liquidity of real estate assets. For instance, the transaction history of a piece of real estate could be recorded on a distributed ledger, verified by others in the network as a legitimate transaction, and converted into a securitised token to be traded at a market-set price – similar to crypto-currencies like Bitcoin and Ether. Benefits of this ‘tokenisation’ process include increased liquidity and transparency, enhanced security and simplified management,” says Tompkins.