Dubai unveils 2 challenges to boost retail, construction



The Department of Economic Development (DED) in Dubai has launched two Challenges to strengthen retail sector competitiveness and increase productivity in the construction sector as part of the fifth Cohort of the Dubai Future Accelerators (DFA) program. Launched under the ‘Dubai Economy Accelerators’ umbrella, the two Challenges are part of DED’s ongoing efforts to harness technologies of the future to enhance ease of doing business, improve government services and enhance competitiveness across industry sectors.

The Cohort 5 Challenges will see DED along with four private sector companies exploring solutions that will enable two crucial industry sectors in Dubai to remain innovation-driven and sustainable while also attracting investment and accelerating economic growth in the emirate.

The first Challenge seeks to enable retailers and wholesalers to predict future scenarios through data, research and insights, and accordingly capitalise on their physical and digital presence to attract consumers. The objective is to deploy Dubai’s retail advantage to ensure sustainability of business while also promoting a smart transformation in the sector.

Mohammed Shael Al Saadi, CEO of Corporate Strategic Affairs sector in DED, said: “An accelerating shift away from in-store shopping to e-commerce and Augmented Reality-based experiential shopping on smartphones, etc. - all instantly processed through easy e-payment - is reshaping the retail sector. As part of the DFA challenge, we are collaborating and co-creating solutions to reinforce Dubai’s position in the retail market and as a global shopping destination. We are working to capture the shopping habits of the new consumer, develop data driven strategies to predict future trends, and identify opportunities in support to local SMEs and large retailers to create a balanced digital and physical retail ecosystem. This will facilitate DED in collaboration with other government entities to make effective business friendly policies to help retailers grow and be prepared amidst the sector’s future disruptions,”

The second Challenge identified in Cohort 5 is to leverage technology to promote sustainable business practices in the construction sector, thereby improving productivity. The Challenge aims to shift focus of future growth in the construction sector to productivity-driven competitiveness, from the production factors Dubai has already accumulated.

Hani Al Hamli, Manager of the Dubai Competitiveness Office of DED, said: The Dubai Competitiveness Office is participating in the DFA program as part of its drive to improve efficiencies and productivity, which is a prerequisite for enhancing Dubai’s global competitiveness. While construction and real estate in Dubai is growing and competing on a global level, labor productivity in the sector needs to be improved. We have selected two companies from the dozens that came forward to work with us within the DFA framework.”

Al Hamli added that one of the companies selected allows contractors to digitally monitor the performance of workers on site and measure the results achieved.

The launch of Cohort 5 follows major milestones achieved by various business units and agencies of DED in the previous cohorts. The fourth Cohort saw the Commercial Compliance & Consumer Protection (CCCP) sector in DED setting out to increase efficiency of its market monitoring and inspection by 25% by utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT). “We have identified an internationally recognized technology solutions partner to develop an advanced market monitoring and inspection system. The proposed system will substantially reduce the time taken for supervision and for filing complaints on DED’s smart applications in addition to minimizing interruptions for businesses,” said Mohammed Ali Rashid Lootah, CEO of CCCP.

“We are committed to actively participating in the Dubai Future Accelerators programme and exploring innovative solutions that will position the emirate as a smart city and future global hub. DED and its agencies have a vast stakeholder community and together, we maintain a sharper focus on co-creating solutions for the local and global challenges of tomorrow,” added Mariam Al Afridi, Director of Government Communication in DED and head of Dubai Economy Accelerators.

Cohort 3 saw Dubai SME, the DED agency mandated to develop the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector, targeting an intelligent framework for its RATE program aimed to assess SMEs based on a set of financial and non-financial parameters towards enhancing their credibility and access to growth financing.

— SG

DED participated in Cohort 2 with the Challenge of developing a blockchain solution for business registration and licensing in Dubai. Following Cohort 2, Emcredit, a DED subsidiary, along with UK-based ObjectTech formed a partnership to develop and implement emCash, an encrypted digital currency, which people can use to pay for various government and non-government services. — SG