Live: Updates from Gitex 2016

All the latest news from the 36th edition of the Gitex technology exhibition



DAY 2

5:45pm: And that brings day two of Gitex to a close. Visitors leaving through the metro side of Dubai World Trade Centre will notice this distinct vehicle on their way out – the work of Digi Robotics and DiDrivers. Dubbed WiGO, it is claimed to be the first 3D printed and autonomous green car and bears a made in the UAE sticker.

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4:55pm: 80 per cent of UAE organisations are going through digital business transformation or digitally-enabled change, according to an Accenture report released today.

Asif Javed, the managing director of technology for the Middle East, told Gulf Business the report indicated that regional organisations were maintaining their digital investment despite current economic challenges.

He also suggested artificial intelligence was proving particularly important to firms in the UAE, with investment up 70 per cent compared to 2014.

4.00pm: Those who roam the government hall at this year’s Gitex will also likely come across this robot patrolman.

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On top of saluting and shaking hands, the touch screen on the figure can be used to report crimes, pay for traffic violations and submit paperwork.

Dubai Police is working with IBM’s Watson artificial intelligence system to integrate a virtual assistant system allowing voice commands and other functionality.

3.15pm: Harshul Joshi, SVP of governance, risk and compliance at cyber security firm DarkMatter, has said the GCC and the rest of the world is suffering from a shortage of security talent.

In an interview with Gulf Business he also detailed the security risks linked to smart cities and the company’s new solution using bitcoin database technology block chain.

Joshi insisted, despite claims that it is untamperable, block chain could still be hit by cyber attackers due to its reliance on humans for data input.

2.20pm:This robot could soon be patrolling a street near you.

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The system uses a variety of cameras to detect people and objects. The system will automatically alert police if it sees anything suspicious – for example – a child roaming the streets at night. It is also fitted with a smoke detector to report fires and will automatically return to its charging station once it’s roughly 7-8 hour battery life is up.

1.00pm:Abdul Rahman Al Thehaiban, senior vice president for Oracle, Middle East, Africa, Turkey and Central Asia, says the current economic climate has not had a negative impact on cloud spending.

He told Gulf Business that similarly to the last financial crisis companies are looking to shift to the cloud to improve their efficiency.

Al Thehaiban also revealed the firm’s global CEO will be visiting the region early next year to make more big announcements after the company confirmed it was opening a cloud data centre in Abu Dhabi in January.

12.20pm: Have you been using your Emirates ID to access the Smart Gate system at Dubai International Airport?

According to Mohammed Ahmed Al Marri, director general of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) in Dubai, the move has received a “highly positive response” from passengers.

UAE residents can pass through passport control counters at Terminal 3 using their Emirates ID (and avoid the long queues). The system is also being implemented in Terminal 1.

A total of 1,345,122 transactions were processed by the GDRFA-Dubai during the Eid Al-Adha holidays, GDRFA said.

“Implementing this service required strong team efforts from GDRFA Dubai, Emirates ID Authority and Dubai Airports and also included interlinking the systems of GDRFA Dubai and Emirates ID from security and operative aspects,” said Al Marri.

And looking ahead, with Dubai hoping to welcome 20 million visitors annually by 2020, more “smart technology” will be implemented, officials confirmed.

11.20am: We just stopped off at the Honeywell stand where they are showcasing their smart mosque solution (pictured below). The smart temperature control system automatically turns on the air-conditioning just before prayer time to save energy. A pilot in Sharjah cut a mosque’s energy bill by 35 per cent and it is now being trialled in other emirates, according to the company.

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Pete Costa, the firm’s MENA VP, said energy efficient smart home and office solutions were proving most popular in the current climate.

He also said the company had developed a solution to solve office arguments over the AC temperature by offering a voting system for employees.

10.30am: Day two has officially kicked off with the crowds slowly returning. The government hall is predictably seeing more footfall and has some interesting transportation solutions on display.

Here’s an automated transport cube, created in association with taxi sharing app Careem.

(Also read: Dubai’s RTA to offer public taxis via car app Careem)

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Here’s another driverless vehicle developed by tech company SAP…

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And a staple at Gitex during the last few years – a Dubai Police luxury car –

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9.45am: You may soon be able to top up your Nol card at your neighbourhood grocery store.

Under a new partnership signed during Gitex between the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) and UAE-based digital payments provider Trriple, customers will now be able to top up their Nol cards at over 20,000 UAE merchants through the Trriple mWallet app network.

“Being able to top up Nol Cards through additional neighborhood merchants and mobile apps delivers better convenience to RTA’s customers. This would help make it easier for people to top up their Nol cards, and replace cash with instant and secure digital payments, in line with the UAE’s smart government goals to enhance costs and efficiency,” said Khaled Al Awadhi, director of Automated Collection System, RTA.

Cash currently makes up the majority of top ups. Currently, there are more than seven million Nol Card holders.

9.00am: Good morning and welcome to day two of Gitex.

We start the day with some dangerous stats. According to Kaspersky Security Network, an average of 17.4 per cent users in the Middle East encountered cyberthreats originating from the internet in the third quarter of 2016.

The countries with the highest percentage of users affected by these threats were Qatar (24.4 per cent), UAE (22.8 per cent), Kuwait (20.1 per cent) and Saudi Arabia (17.9 per cent), the report said.

With the strong push towards smart cities in the region, is cybersecurity receiving the attention that it requires?

5:45pm: That’s all for today folks, check back tomorrow for more Gitex updates.

5:40pm: Just one more update before the day is over, Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority has revealed hourly car rental services will be available from next year.

Abdulla Yousef Al Ali, CEO of RTA’s Public Transport Agency, said Ekar and Udrive have been granted permission to extend the service to the public, which will enable users to reserve cars located around the city online, unlock them using a smartphone app and drive off. Each company will offer 100 vehicles in the early stage of the project.

5:10pm: Local telco Etisalat has one of the most elaborate stands at this year’s event.

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Among the highlights are a SIM-enabled electric car and…
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.. a virtual store front.
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Another Gitex favourite was this robot cafe.
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3:55pm: The Gulf Business team tried out Microsoft’s new holographic computer the HoloLens earlier with some interesting results.

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Elsewhere, Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry has published a new report to coincide with Gitex predicting that the emirate’s consumer electronics market will grow to $3bn by 2020. Leading the way will be portable consumer electronics, with sales valued at $1.27bn.

The market was worth $2.4bn last year after growing 8.9 per cent annually over the last five years, according to Dubai Chamber.

3:00pm: The drop in oil prices has affected IT spend in the GCC region, admitted Chris Johnson, vice president of Enterprise Group and managing director of MEMA at HP Enterprises.

But he remained optimistic that regional governments remain committed to their national agendas ( such as Dubai’s 2020 smart city vision and Saudi’s Vision 2030) and hence are teaming up with the right partners from the industry.

Johnson also confirmed that HP Enterprises was looking to double its headcount in Saudi within the next two to three years as it looks to boost its presence in the country.

1.45pm: Microsoft has teamed up with the Dubai Water and Electricity Authority (DEWA) for its new augmented reality device, HoloLens.

DEWA has been testing the device for around six months now, confirmed Jaime Galviz, COO of Microsoft Gulf. The utility has been using the hologram projector to detect problems in its facilities as well as carrying out preventive maintenance, he said.

We are hoping to get a demonstration of the device later today and will bring you our take on it.

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12:20 Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is looking to expand its business to business offering in the Middle East, a senior official confirmed to Gulf Business.

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The company is currently targeting SMEs in the region, said Micheal Mang, head of business development and marketing, APAC and MEA at Alibaba.com.

“There is huge interest from small companies in the region and we want to provide them a platform for cross border trade,” he said.

He also confirmed that the site has around one million customers from the region, with 50-60 per cent of them coming from the Gulf region.

Alibaba’s stall at Gitex features drones and robots created by SMEs that are features on its platform.

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On a separate note, the show has now been officially inaugurated by Dubai’s Crown Prince. Picture below.

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10.30am: As expected, the venue is tightly packed with huge crowds. Here’s a picture of attendees queued outside the venue this morning.

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10:00am: As the day gets underway be sure to check out a recent technology piece from the October issue of Gulf Business. Click the link below for our interview with Dell/EMC’s Aongus Hegarty on what the recent merger of the two technology firms will mean for the Middle East and wider world.

Read: What the Dell, EMC merger will mean for the Gulf region

9.20am: The 36th edition of the annual Gitex technology exhibition begins today at the Dubai World Trade Centre and will feature everything from 3D-printed cars to VR roller coasters, drones and augmented reality.

Spread across 1.4 million square feet, the event is expected to host 4,000 exhibiting companies and 64 participating countries.

Samsung will attempt to set the record for the world’s largest indoor 4D VR experience and Panasonic will display unmanned balloon cameras.

“The Gitex Technology Week theme of ‘Re-Imagining Realities’ emphasises the practical steps that organisations need to take in their digital transformation, and the potential for enabling the life-changing ideas from entrepreneurs in the Middle East and worldwide,” said Trixie LohMirmand, senior vice president of DWTC, organiser of the event.

Stay tuned to this space as Gulf Business will be live at the event, bringing you all the updates and interviews with top tech companies.

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