The United Arab Emirates is working with Bitcoin Association and representatives of the BSV ecosystem, among others, to understand the ramifications of blockchain technology and its potential to revolutionise the country’s government systems.
Speaking in an interview with Bitcoin Association, Advisor in AI at the UAE Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation Saeed Mohammed Alhebsi said that the UAE has big plans for the implementation of blockchain technology.
‘The government aims for 50 percent of their transactions by the end of 2021 to be built on blockchain technology,’ he says.
Alhebsi’s role in the ministry is as a special advisor to the Ministry and a project manager in the undersecretary office, where he brings significant expertise as a graduate of the University of Oxford’s artificial intelligence programme. The Ministry has appointed Bitcoin Association as a knowledge partner to aid it in achieving its blockchain integration vision. Alhebsi explains that this appointment aims to improve awareness of the different applications of blockchain technology among the Ministry.
‘I first encountered BSV and Bitcoin Association at the Ritossa Family Office Investment Summit conference in Dubai. From there, I saw how they are knowledgeable about blockchain technology and are really present in this part of the world, so we had discussions with them to be our knowledge partner at the ministry.’
‘We are using BSV’s knowledge about blockchain technology to learn and raise awareness among our employees and our executive office. From there, we believe that we need to find out how the blockchain is suitable to us, how the blockchain will solve our problems, and how we can build on it,’ he says.
The UAE’s ambitious blockchain strategy
Alhebsi highlights that their discussions with BSV representatives and this knowledge partnership are part of a broader ambitious digitisation strategy on the part of the UAE government.
‘In 2018, the UAE government announced its blockchain strategy and from there, we have started to adopt it as a ministry. From there, we can start to look at the opportunity and looking at how to implement this technology. The strategy is to implement all these technologies: blockchain technologies, artificial intelligence, big data, and IoT,’ Alhebsi says,
‘We start with the awareness and the transfer of knowledge about how this blockchain can help the government. As the government, we have three strategic pillars. One of them is government efficiency. The second pillar is to create an industry hub, and the third pillar will be to take the lead internationally with the adoption of blockchain technologies.’
On the motivation and markers of success that shape the UAE’s blockchain strategy, Alhebsi stresses that the UAE is not benchmarking its progress in this area by comparison to other countries or pre-existing global strategies.
‘As a government, we are not looking for any competitor – we are not at what other countries are achieving or where they are going, we are leading ourselves and starting our own agenda. We have a very clear vision from our leadership and a strategy that by, let’s say, 2033 we will transfer ninety percent of our services to blockchain technologies and AI.’
‘In the beginning, your goal as a government is to solve your challenges and from there bring a better solution. We will call all of these [blockchain start-ups], we will give them the platform to demonstrate use cases to prove their value and concept. From there, we can find an interest as government and use our full power to realise these solutions,’ he says.
As part of this blockchain integration strategy driven by clear government direction, Alhebsi is working with the BSV Hub for Middle East and South Asia (MESA) on various blockchain education projects to drive innovation in the UAE. The BSV Hub for MESA is based in Dubai and is headed up by Muhammad Salman Anjum, a leading regional figure in the enterprise blockchain space, as well as the Chief Mate at InvoiceMate, a next-generation accounting and invoicing platform that is integrating the use of the BSV blockchain.
The activities of Alhebsi and the BSV Hub for MESA include the rolling out of a training programme in the UAE to educate local developers and entrepreneurs on the capabilities of the BSV blockchain – an initiative that has already received great interest in the country.
‘We have already rolled out this programme – the first online training was very impressive. The attendance exceeded more than 150 people on that day. Still, we have more to do but we see this as a very good start, and that shows we are stepping in at the right time,’ Alhebsi says.
‘I was impressed with the hub that BSV created. From there, [we must focus on] how to attract start-up companies and provide them with the best platform to act and achieve their goals. I think this is a good time to be in this area in the Middle East and in Dubai, especially. We have our own acceleration programme, and we have this hub to track these start-up companies and enable them to solve our challenges.’