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Emirati-French Business Forum discusses role of AI, block chain in smart cities

Government officials highlight strong alignment of UAE and France in promoting economic cooperation and meeting environmental objectives

| | Jul 8, 2019 | 5:05 pm
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DUBAI, UAE, 8 July 2019: Blockchain, AI, smart meters and the use of such disruptive technologies in the move to optimise energy resources, enhance efficiency and promote smart, sustainable cities were the topics of discussion during the second edition of the Emirati-French Business forum, on July 3, at DEWA’s sustainable building office in Dubai. Organised by the French Business Council of Dubai and Northern Emirates, Business France and DEWA, the event focused on “The Future of Energy Innovation”.

His Excellency Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer

His Excellency Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD and CEO, DEWA, inaugurated the forum by highlighting the strong, historical ties of UAE and France. He said, “French companies and French investors in the UAE, play an important role in strengthening the bonds of friendship and human and social relations, which positively reflects the economic trade cooperation between the two countries and achieves common interests.”

His Excellency Ludovic Pouille

His Excellency Ludovic Pouille, Ambassador of France to the United Arab Emirates, also highlighted the strong relations of the two countries. “Dubai continues to be a privileged destination for companies looking to reach a wider group and for companies in sustainability and innovation,” he said. “Environment and climate change is one of the topics where UAE and France is perfectly aligned, with strong commitment to renewable and clean energy.”

H.E. Pouille underlined the significance of the event, which drew the participation and attendance of decision-makers from public and private sectors, government officials and representatives from multinational companies and SMEs.

Providing a comprehensive overview of DEWA’s milestone achievements, Al Tayer discussed best practices when it comes to anticipating and shaping the future of energy by ushering in a futuristic model of utilities through the production, transmission and distribution of electricity and water.

Richard Dib, Head of Data Science Activation, Smart Dubai, put the spotlight on the government’s commitment to make Dubai ‘the happiest city on earth’ during a keynote speech. “Smart Dubai is leveraging the power of technology and working to understand how technology can be used across multiple sectors to make sure all citizens are having an efficient, seamless, safe and personalised experience leading to a happier city,” he said.

Dib pointed out that unlike most smart cities, Dubai’s digital transformation is not confined to a specific sector, as the strategy advocates a more holistic approach. Dib added that Smart Dubai will soon be implementing a set of policies to encourage implementation and adoption of block chain among relevant private companies and government entities as part of its Block Chain strategy. Dib said that Smart Dubai has also launched an Artificial Intelligence (AI) roadmap to identify and implement a plan to integrate AI and to build capability within government entities with regard to AI.

These technologies were further discussed during a panel discussion on “Disruptive Technologies within Utilities’, moderated by Jean-Luc Scherer, Founder and CEO, Innopolis. Marwan Bin Haider, EVP Innovation and The Future, DEWA; Carola Puusteli, Electricity Companies, Segment President, Schneider Electric and Mohammed Azizi, Country Director MENA and Pakistan, Sigfox were the panelists.

Puusteli underlined the importance of unlocking opportunities offered by technology to transform cities and utilities, and said that digitalisation of electricity is the next biggest revolution within the utilities sector. “Buildings are [responsible for] 50% of energy consumption for the world, and we believe in Schneider it will be 80% in the coming years,” she said. During a discussion on potential solutions, Bin Haider confirmed that Dubai is looking at AI as a solution to promote efficiency of operations, pointing out that the UAE’s appointment of a Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, underlines the country’s commitment to leverage technology to improve cities. “It’s part of the DNA,” Bin Haider said. “For us, AI is a must. We have a clear roadmap and strategy to make stakeholders happy, and [it is] also part of our investment portfolio. [We look at] potential opportunities in AI for optimising our operation, not just for the sake of having AI. AI without data will not take us anywhere.”

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