Dubai unveils blockchain-based corporate registry project

The Dubai Government has unveiled a blockchain project to improve ease of doing business in Dubai and facilitate foreign direct investments. The Dubai Blockchain Business Registry Project is a joint initiative, developed by the Department of Economic Development (DED) in Dubai and Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority (DSOA), in collaboration with Smart Dubai and IBM. The Project is expected to enhance collaboration and efficiency among government entities and provide transparency, security and visibility in government transactions.

This initiative is aligned with the Dubai Blockchain Strategy, launched in 2016 by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council of Dubai, seeking to establish Dubai as the first city to be fully powered by blockchain by 2020.

The project aims to streamline the process of setting up and operating a business, roll out digital exchange of trade licenses and related documentation for all business activities, and ensure regulatory compliance across Dubai’s business ecosystem, thereby creating an efficient and seamless experience.

The initiative seeks to empower the Unified Commercial Registry (UCR) project, the first blockchain-enabled trade license repository launched by DED, to store and update company registration information issued by DED, as well as the free zone authorities in Dubai.

The Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority, which is the regulatory body for Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSO), an integrated free zone technology park, will be the first free zone to implement the pilot project and share license information over blockchain. Other entities will be able to query and publish data as required.  

Sami Al Qamzi, Director General of DED welcomed the Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority on board as the first free zone entity to integrate DED’s business ledger and said that the Blockchain Corporate Registry provides a template for collaboration between government departments, government-related entities and the private sector to reinforce Dubai as a hub for business expansion and entrepreneurship.

“The Unified Commercial Registry is a foundation for the business ledger, led by the Department of Economic Development to usher in the future of business in Dubai, UAE and the world. With the Blockchain Corporate Registry, investment as well as doing business in Dubai will become a seamless and smart experience, and testimony to successful innovation,” he commented.

The IT Department in DED conducted extensive research and case studies with vendors to explore the available alternatives and options to help secure information, support open data and enable paperless processes in preparation for the Dubai Blockchain Corporate Registry. Mohamed Alqaizi, IT Director in DED, said, “The Blockchain initiative is a result of intensive research conducted by our IT team in collaboration with DSOA, IBM and the Smart Dubai office. We studied multiple options, case studies and researches aiming to achieve the best results in facilitating business registration in Dubai. The results are promising; we built the foundation for a first-of-its-kind unified business ledger where any entity locally and globally can join, and be part of Dubai’s vision to be the Blockchain capital of the world as part of the Dubai Blockchain strategy 2016.”

Amr Refaat, General Manager, IBM Middle East said: “IBM is proud to collaborate with DED, Smart Dubai Office and Dubai Silicon Oasis on this journey to revolutionize the business ecosystem in the UAE. Dubai is a leader in innovation with many ambitious projects that have already become a reality. With the first phase of this project already in place to form the first active Blockchain commerce registry network, there is keen interest from other public and private entities to join the network.”

Dr. Aisha Bin BIshr, Director General, Smart Dubai, said: “Having 100% of all applicable Dubai government transactions run on Blockchain is the first pillar of the Dubai Blockchain Strategy, and ongoing collaboration with government and private sector entities is crucial to our success. The launch of the Commercial Registry Project is testament to our drive towards making Dubai run on Blockchain by 2020.”

She further revealed that Smart Dubai is working on over 20 use cases with several entities across the city, and these are expected to be launched later this year.

Dubai Blockchain Strategy

In December 2016, the Dubai government announced the Dubai Blockchain Strategy, establishing a roadmap for the introduction of Blockchain technology for Dubai and the creation of an open platform to share the technology with cities across the globe. The vision is to transform Dubai into the first Government in the world to execute all applicable transactions on the Blockchain by 2020. E

It is estimated that adoption of Blockchain technology can save Dubai 5.5 billion Dirham (US$1.5 billion) annually in document processing alone. Several government agencies in Dubai have significant progress in the area.

In April 2017, the Smart Dubai Office has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Avanza Solutions to implement a citywide blockchain based payments platform. In June, the Government of Dubai signed an agreement with a UK-based startup, ObjectTech, to develop digital passports for seamless entry at Dubai Airport, combining biometric verification and Blockchain technology.

In October 2017, the Dubai Land Department (DLD) became the world’s first government entity to implement all of its transactions through blockchain technology. DLD has created the Blockchain system using a smart and secure database that records all real estate contracts, including lease registrations, and links them with the Dubai Electricity & Water Authority (DEWA), the telecommunications system, and various property related bills.

In late October, the Dubai Internet of Things (IoT) strategy was launched, seeking to build the world’s most advanced Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem in the world’s smartest city to improve people’s lives. Blockchain plays a key role in the final phase of the strategy which will witness the full integration of IoT policies and the first ROI (Return on investment) of the strategy.  The first phase involves coordination of efforts and activities to implement IoT policies across government departments. In the second phase, the focus is on Integration and Conversion, seeks to harmonise efforts. The third phase will focus on optimisation.

In April 2018, Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) launched Tourism 2.0, a blockchain-enabled marketplace that connects potential buyers directly to hotels and tour operators. As a business to business (B2B) marketplace, it will allow hotels and tour operators to connect directly. 

Later in the same month, the Smart Dubai Office announced the launch of a blockchain-powered decentralised learning platform, in collaboration with the Dubai Future Foundation (DFF), to support the development of digital skills and prepare individuals for careers in the economy of the future.  

In April, the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) also launched a blockchain-powered digital bank for art.

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