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United Arab Emirates blockchain strategy

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is harnessing the benefits of blockchain technology in improving governance and the delivery of public services. In 2020, the UAE government launched a blockchain-powered medical platform to improve the efficiency of its Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP), as well as of other health authorities and smart health services. The platform can store data for health, pharmaceutical government, private facilities, health practitioners and drug information as well.

Another blockchain-based project in the UAE is the vehicle history blockchain project that provides car manufacturers, dealers, regulators, insurance companies, buyers, sellers and garages with a transparent record about a vehicle’s history from the manufacturer to the scrap yard. This blockchain-based system will help boost transparency and trust in vehicle transactions, prevent disputes and lower the cost of services.

These projects are part of UAE’s overall strategy on blockchain development. In 2018, it launched the Emirates Blockchain Strategy 2021, which aims to capitalize on the blockchain technology to transform 50 percent of government transactions into the blockchain platform by 2021.The strategy includes four pillars: government efficiency, industry creation, social wealth, and education.

The UAE government believes that blockchain technology will improve efficiency and transparency in public transactions. In digital transactions, each customer is given a unique identification number that points to their information on the secure chain. Information and data on the blockchain cannot be hacked or changed, which will ensure the digital security of national documents and transactions and eventually reduce operational cost and accelerate decision-making.

Through the adoption of this technology, the UAE government expects to save 11 billion UAE dirham in transactions and documents processed routinely, 398 million printed documents annually, and 77 million work hours annually.

Various government departments and private sector companies in the country are already embracing the use of blockchain. The Dubai Land Department (DLD) has implemented a blockchain-based platform to streamline real estate transactions, while the Abu Dhabi Digital Authority has launched a blockchain-powered Know Your Customer (KYC) platform.

Meanwhile, complementing the Emirates Blockchain Strategy 2020 is the Dubai Blockchain Strategy, launched in 2016, which seeks to make Dubai a digitally-advanced and entirely blockchain-powered city and make it “the happiest city on earth.”

The Dubai Blockchain Strategy uses three pillars:(1) Government efficiency, enabling a paperless digital layer for all city transactions, including documentation, visa applications, bill payments, license renewals, among others; (2) Industry creation, wherein the government aims to introduce a system for enabling the creation of new businesses using blockchain technology; and (3) International leadership, through which it aims to primarily utilize the blockchain platform to enhance the safety, security, and convenience of international travelers for global counterparts.

The UAE is already harnessing the benefits of blockchain, creating new opportunities for the government, businesses, and its citizens. Its strategies are helping propel the country to become a global leader in blockchain development and innovation.

Blockchain technology offers a window of opportunity for some developing countries to be ahead. In fact, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), it can be used in many applications that could contribute to sustainable development, but governments must strengthen their innovation systems to fully harness the benefits of new and emerging technologies.

We hope that the Philippines can fully explore how this technology can help in our digitalization efforts, such as in promoting ease of doing business, strengthening cybersecurity, in providing internet connectivity, as well as in many other areas of development.

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