Dubai’s unquenchable thirst for innovation means that the UAE city is primed to become the ideological home of the fourth Industrial Revolution. Or so its track record would suggest. In recent years, Dubai’s government has rolled out frequent announcements regarding its ambitious intentions, including plans to have a quarter of the city’s buildings 3D-printed by 2030 and to become the world’s first blockchain-powered government by 2020.And such initiatives resonate strongly with the next age of progress.
The theme of the fourth Industrial Revolution was introduced by German economist Klaus Schwab in a 2015 essay published in Foreign Affairs. It is a transformation “characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres,” says Schwab; one that harnesses the power of emerging fields such as 3D printing, biotech, genetics and artificial intelligence.
Dubai’s ambition to align itself with the fourth Industrial Revolution is no secret. In 2017, the government launched the UAE Strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, its aim to “increase its contribution to the national economy by means of advancing innovation and future technologies.”
The UAE kicked off a hugely lucrative oil industry when large reserves of oil were discovered near Abu Dhabi in the 1950s. And Dubai in particular has harnessed that wealth in recent years, building a booming tourism industry and attracting investment from all over the world. However, the emirate was badly hit by the global economic crisis of the late 2000s, which is likely why the government feels the need to rely on more than just oil for its financial safety. It seems determined to invest in an innovative future.
In fact, the emirate hopes to become the most innovative city in the world by 2021. According to its own index, Dubai ranked 17 in 2017, while Honk Kong was rated number one followed by New York in second position. But, for a government so determined to harness the power of the latest innovations and capture the attention of the world stage, Dubai seems likely to continue climbing the rankings in the coming years.