4IR centre in Dubai marks new step into the future

The 4IR project brings together a fast-growing global network of major private sector organisations along with government partners, including Microsoft, Amazon, Huawei and Reliance Industries.
Sunday 05/05/2019
A speaker presents details of the Emirati Strategy for the Fourth Industrial  Revolution during the UAE Government Annual Meetings in Abu Dhabi.      (WAM)
A hub for innovation. A speaker presents details of the Emirati Strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution during the UAE Government Annual Meetings in Abu Dhabi. (WAM)

DUBAI - Dubai officials have opened the Centre for Fourth Industrial Revolution, the first such research facility in the region, in cooperation with the World Economic Forum.

The centre, at AREA 2071 in Emirates Towers, marks another step into the future for Dubai and the Emirates, which have intensified efforts to enable positive transformation in recent years.

The term “Fourth Industrial Revolution” (4IR) was introduced by World Economic Forum (WEF) founder Klaus Schwab in Foreign Affairs magazine in December 2015.

Previous industrial revolutions were marked by the introduction of steam power, mass production and digital technology. Schwab said 4IR is fundamentally different because it is characterised by technologies that fuse the physical, digital and biological worlds.

The agreement to establish the centre was signed by Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed al-Maktoum in January at the WEF in Switzerland. The theme of the WEF meeting dealt with the opportunities and challenges of 4IR, reflecting the fast-growing importance of the issue.

The WEF identified nine areas that underpin 4IR. The 4IR centre in the United Arab Emirates is to specialise in three of these: artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning; blockchain and distributed ledger technology; and precision medicine.

The other focus areas are: the internet of things; robotics and smart cities; autonomous and urban mobility; drones; digital trade; 4IR for the Earth; and data policy.

The opening of the centre in Dubai forms part of a broader strategic co-operation agreement between the Emirates and the WEF.

The Dubai 4IR centre is the fifth globally and is to work closely with the main hub in the United States. It is expected to form part of a global WEF-network of 4IR centres in Japan, China and India. The WEF also has programmes with Colombia and Israel to host affiliate centres.

The 4IR project brings together a fast-growing global network of major private sector organisations along with government partners, including Microsoft, Amazon, Huawei and Reliance Industries.

Dubai has reinforced its position at the global forefront of producing ground-breaking research to inform international efforts and assist the development of policies and governance systems to develop the opportunities such technologies present.

Specialised project teams of experts from around the WEF network will be assigned to the Dubai centre, Dubai officials plan to begin running pilot programmes in AI and blockchain technology along with projects to study genome sequencing for the development of precision medicine.

The centre will facilitate Dubai’s vision and goals, such as being among the world’s first to transform into a truly “smart city,” accelerate the Emirates’ transformation and become a hub in the global network for innovation and technology.

The vision of Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum has emphasised embracing innovation and change for the future. He had said he wants Dubai to be a regional beacon for knowledge and innovation.

Marking 50 years of public service, Sheikh Mohammed in January announced a 50 Year Charter for Dubai. A Ministry of Possibilities has been established by the United Arab Emirates. The ministry is to function virtually and with input from across the cabinet to address critical challenges.

In 2016, the United Arab Emirates created ministries for the future, happiness and tolerance, reflecting its approach to future challenges.

Sheikh Mohammed each year hosts the Future Government Summit in Dubai, which includes government leaders and senior administrators to focus on the role of new and emerging technology in governance.

Next year, Dubai is to open the Museum of the Future in Emirates Towers, an incubator for innovation and design that will take provide visitors with a look as to what life in 2035 will be like. The museum is an initiative of the Dubai Future Foundation, which will run the Centre for 4IR.

AREA 2071 was designed as a physical manifestation of the vision behind the UAE Centennial Plan, which aims to place the United Arab Emirates among the world’s leading countries by the time it turns 100 years old.

These steps represent strategic efforts to accelerate the development of mindsets, policies and governance frameworks allowing the technology and innovation that underpins 4IR to be harnessed positively, as early as possible and with minimal risk.

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