Case Dubai embraces the Digital Age

Dubai embraces the Digital Age

Technology, change & fast: the buzzwords at conferences, exhibitions and seminars in Dubai in 2018. In short, trend number one: Digital Transformation.

Digital Knowlegde Gap

Organisations wanting to keep up in times of rapid change are forced to deal with social media and big data. Soon they will also be confronted with technologies such as robotics, ai, automation and IoT. Those who cannot follow will stay behind on the wrong side of the “digital knowledge gap”. This gap makes it painfully clear that there is currently an imbalance between companies and their leaders and emerging talent.

"Soon it's all about robotics, AI, automation and IoT."

Potential talent is needed to grow further and nowadays that is exactly what is lacking in the labour market. As a result, organisations fail to achieve their goals, lag behind the competition and are forced to park their ambitions. That’s what este is working on. We focus on North European clients and concentrate on those markets where the war for talent is strongest so that organisations achieve their goals again.

Getting Digital

Digital disruption concerns every world citizen, yet many Belgian entrepreneurs are still reluctant when I plan a video call from Dubai for a first introduction. For a Dutchman, a British, a Chinese or an Indian, this is self-evident, and for whom even the time zone no longer plays any part. Some Belgians still think in terms of working days and fixed hours. Fortunately, we are gradually seeing a digital mindset arise among Belgian entrepreneurs. He realises that action is needed to attract talent and thus embrace digital disruption. In order to grow further, it’s necessary to step out of their comfort zone, think in terms of solutions, flexible work, etc. The business model of este is all about new digital working methods and communication is a top priority. Entrepreneurs who are struggling due to a lack of software developers or technical designers have the opportunity to compile their own remote team - via digital way. 

Apart from the digital way of communicating, we want to change as little as possible to the familiar local way of working. For many entrepreneurs, working with remote teams is a completely new experience. To them, we explain that others became leaders in their industry many years ago when they took a big step forward towards digital communication and a new way of working. Whether a company is open to this kind of innovation is very culturally related. That’s why the latest evolutions in Dubai deserve the utmost attention and will be an eye-opener for many.

Happy & Smart

Happy and Smart, this is how Dubai wants to be. The largest and most diversified city of the United Arab Emirates has introduced a 'Happiness Index', which monitors the quality of public services and aims to improve the overall satisfaction of citizens. The result is an environment covered with smileys. Government buildings, shopping malls, websites and applications and even public toilets are all equipped with a Happiness Meter. Residents and tourists rate their experience with smileys. Dubai aims to become the 'Happiest Place in the World'. Everything is about digitalization. It makes perfect sense that innovative technologies are abundantly present here and that so many conferences and fairs are held on this subject. 

The city has two major goals: a 100% paperless government from 2021 and running entirely on blockchain technology by 2020.

Paperless Government

From 2021, the Dubai government will work 100% paperless for all their administrative and operational processes. In the future, these processes will be carried out via digital IDs, signatures and certificates, and secure data will be available using dedicated online platforms. The government will no longer issue or request paper documents in its activities. To make this possible, laws have been modified and technology implemented to enable paperless transactions. The 'Dubai Now' app, an online portal, is already available 24/7 and offers all public and private services. Without having to visit any government authority, citizens can arrange their affairs with the app. By eliminating paper transactions, more than a billion sheets of paper and 130,000 trees are saved annually, and it saves users more than 40 hours per year that would have been spent on paper transactions otherwise.

Blockchain Government

To strengthen its technological reputation, the city is working hard to become the world's first government to operate entirely on blockchain technology by 2020. Using blockchain leads to a saving of 5.5 billion dirhams (1.3 billion euros) per year, in document processing alone. For its blockchain platform-as-a-service, Dubai partnered up with IBM.

Recently, more exciting news was announced. Soon we will be able to make digital payments with Emcash, the new digital currency of Dubai. The currency was launched by Emcredit, a subsidiary of the Dubai Department of Economic Development. This makes Dubai the first city in the world to offer a blockchain-based payment solution to its residents. The combination of Dubai's paperless strategy with blockchain allows some 100 million documents to be processed digitally every year - from visa applications to setting up companies. With the available data, the government can create databases and data can be exchanged within moments.

The real estate industry certainly benefits from all this available data. Dubai Land Department, the government agency that supervises land purchases and approves real estate transactions, launched a blockchain platform in October 2018. This system secures financial transactions, electronically records all real estate contracts and connects landlords and tenants to electricity, water and telecom providers. It’s now possible to buy or sell, rent or let a property, at any time and from anywhere in the world within minutes. The objective is to radically transform the way people buy, sell and rent a property. The intention is to expand the platform even further with banks, mortgage institutions, and maintenance and utility companies.


"Dubai has two key targets: run entirely on blockchain technology by 2020 and a 100% paperless government by 2021."

World's Smartest City

At the Global Smart City Awards 2017 Dubai was awarded the World's Smartest City.

This achievement is an honour and a true reflection for the performance of Smart Dubai government, but also a testament to the UAE's success in creating the future today. As a result of the infrastructural developments at the end of the sixties, there was a general growth in the region. Dubai took advantage of its oil wealth, starting with the construction of roads, a huge seaport, an airport, an airline and power plants. However, they knew that one day the flow of oil dollars would end. The plan was simple: not to be sidelined by such risks. Dubai began its technological revolution in 1999. Today we are seeing a strong will to be the first to apply groundbreaking technologies: flying taxi’s, autonomous transport, Project Mars 2117, the World's Largest Solar Power project, Hyperloop One, 3D Printing Strategy, …

The list is endless, and I believe that few cities have a transformation strategy of this size. In fact, the United Arab Emirates is the only country in the world with its own AI minister responsible for the application of AI technologies and systems. One of his main goals is to create national talent. This will both improve and accelerate the development of AI and will also attract the best talents to the UAE.


While the rest of the world still has to figure out how digital disruption can be turned into opportunities, Dubai simply embraces and applies technologies such as AI and blockchain. It requires training and investment in human capital to manage and maintain this domain, and therefore partnerships are established, and specific development programs are launched. Este is proud to be part of this revolution. It enables us to continue to provide our clients with the talent they need to navigate in a world that is changing at such a pace. We are happy to pass on the enthusiasm we experience every day in Dubai.

Evelyn Stremersch, Written by Evelyn Stremersch, published by the Belgian Digital Agency Wijs.


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