How the University of Dubai is embracing blockchain and emerging technologies

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By Jamie McKane Published: April 14, 2022
Dr Eesa Bastaki Article Interview

With the meteoric growth of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT), smart cities and blockchain comes an increased demand for the skills and qualifications that drive the development of applications that can use these next-generation platforms.

The United Arab Emirates has demonstrated keen foresight in predicting this demand, as demonstrated by the work being done at the University of Dubai, which has rolled out numerous courses centred around emerging technologies and has even adopted blockchain technology to record its qualifications and provide for easier attestation.

While many of the blockchain solutions implemented by government institutions in the UAE and the University of Dubai are built to run on private or permissioned blockchains, there is also significant interest in the power of scalable public blockchain solutions in the region.

For example, the University of Sharjah in the UAE has partnered with the BSV Blockchain Association to develop a solution for storing certified education credentials on the public BSV blockchain. The two organisations are building a framework for validating and authenticating credentials using the BSV’s public ledger and data network protocol, and they plan to launch a proof-of-concept application on the BSV blockchain before expanding further into the academic credentialling industry.

Thanks to its high data throughput and extremely low transaction fees, the BSV blockchain delivers a publicly auditable ledger of immutable data transactions and is capable of scaling unbounded, making it the only public blockchain that can meet the needs of government- and enterprise-scale applications.

To find out more about the UAE’s ambitious plans for blockchain adoption and how the University of Dubai aims to develop the skills needed to build the blockchain-based applications of the future, we spoke to Dr Eesa Bastaki, President of the University of Dubai.


Blockchain-verified credentials and the UAE’s ambitious strategy

Dr Bastaki says the government in the UAE is embracing blockchain and other developing technologies, and it has already sanctioned the storing of each citizen’s entire history of academic credentials on a blockchain.

‘The government said that once every student from nursery school should have everything recorded using blockchain technology. So, you don’t need to worry about your first-grade results because it’s all on the blockchain – you just have it in your wallet,’ Dr Bastaki says.

‘The whole drive of the country is towards having everything available on a blockchain wallet that will give you all your credentials, as well as other things, of course. Transactions are going to happen without using banks, without using credit cards – directly from the buyer to the seller, from the seller to the buyer, and so on.’

‘All these will be a part of the drive in the country, and the University of Dubai is making sure that we are at par with the drive of the country.’

The University of Dubai is already storing academic credentials on a blockchain platform, and Dr Bastaki believes that this type of blockchain implementation is the first step in Dubai’s ‘10X’ vision, to be ahead of the world by 10 years in technological adoption.

‘The University of Dubai believing in future technologies – our degrees are already implemented on the blockchain. Every student who gets a degree, instead of waiting for a year or two to be attested and go through all these processes, it is already attested and they can go anywhere to employers to find a job.’

‘We think that for Dubai, and the UAE in general, implementing blockchain will be a start towards the 10X vision, which we’re looking at. We want to be ahead of the world by ten years and have blockchain implemented completely in the country. So, everything and every transaction will be on the blockchain,’ he adds.


Developing the skills of the future

Dr Bastaki says the University of Dubai is keenly aware of the future demands for skills in emerging technologies, and notes that many technologies like blockchain are still in their infancy.

‘It’s premature, I call it, and it’s time to mature. Once it matures, it will create the Fifth Industrial Revolution, which is after the Fourth Industrial Revolution. At the University of Dubai, we are the only university in the world that has a net-zero green energy campus, so we care about the future of technology,’ he says.

‘This is true even with our degrees. We have a Bachelor’s Degree in IT and cybersecurity, we are soon going to have a Master’s Degree in Cybersecurity. We are going to have a Bachelor’s Degree specialised in Artificial Intelligence. We have a Master’s Degree, a Master of Science, in Data Sciences. All these are the part of the future endeavours of the country to be ahead of the world by ten years.’

‘These kinds of degrees actually help students to meet the market requirements of the future and help them to be ready to tackle these new kinds of technologies that are coming ahead,’ he adds.

The University of Dubai has not constrained its development of skills in emerging technologies to undergraduates and the academic realm – it also provides professional training and courses developed for industry executives.

‘The University of Dubai is here to serve not only the academic sector but also the professional sector,’ Bastaki says.

‘We have already signed a deal with a company that deals with blockchain as a professional diploma and blockchain in ecommerce and digital marketing. We will have professional certificates through the professional diplomas we have in the country. We produce and develop them ourselves, and we also collaborate with international organisations that implement these kinds of diplomas. The University of Dubai is ready in terms of academia and in terms of professional development.’

In its goal of developing the skills that will be required by a new market of emerging technologies, the University of Dubai’s efforts are aligned with the vision of the BSV Blockchain Association, which aims to further adoption and education of the BSV blockchain protocol.

As BSV offers the only public blockchain platform capable of scaling to meet the needs of government and enterprise applications, it is the ideal solution on which to build many of these cutting-edge public and private blockchain implementations. The BSV has proven its capacity to deliver a secure and reliable platform for everything from identity and credential management to supply chain tracking and peer-to-peer digital payments.

The BSV Blockchain Association has also partnered with many reputable institutions in the Middle East to help further government digital transformation initiatives through the capabilities of the BSV blockchain, including a research agreement with the University of Sharjah in the UAE and the launch of a BSV Blockchain Academy in Saudi Arabia, in collaboration with the Saudi Digital Academy.