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Fuelling a smart city’s sustainable growth

Fuelling a smart city’s sustainable growth

Zaid Alqufaidi discusses the importance of convenience and collaboration for the development of smart cities

A report by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry states that retail and wholesale trade contributes about 30 per cent of Dubai’s GDP, demonstrating the relevance of the sector to the economy.

As Dubai continues to shift gears to facilitate its transformation into a ‘smart city,’ it is vital for the retail sector to complement this evolution, focusing on digitising the retail supply chain. This builds on the Smart Dubai vision announced by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, which places people – not technology – at the heart of its narrative.

With business footprints in fuel retail, convenience stores, automotive services and food and beverage, ENOC offers a strong example of how companies can move towards this digital evolution.

To complement the core pillars of the Smart Dubai initiative – efficient, seamless, safe and impactful – we make our retail initiatives smarter and therefore support the vision of the government to enhance the happiness of people by bringing greater efficiency to everyday services.

Convenience must be on the minds of any company with smart strategies. Customers must find this convenience at every touch point – a notion we have weaved into various initiatives. These include our Vehicle Identification Pass (ViP) cashless and cardless payment facility for refuelling, the PIN-less and paperless debit and credit card transactions at ENOC’s service stations, and ENOCPay – a service platform that unifies all current and future technologies to allow for easy cardless and cashless payments.

Individual efforts must come together with the aim of enhancing the customer experience. This will help channel their retail experience into the ‘smart’ zone.

A smart city is also one where services of multiple entities are seamlessly integrated for the benefit of the customer. For example, people can pay their utility bills, credit card payments and traffic fines at our service stations, or even pay for airline tickets as they fuel their vehicles.

But the smart city vision is not just about digitising retail operations – it is also about broader efficiencies. A smart city must be truly integrated and connected, focussing on being sustainable with its resources.

The Dubai Plan 2021 outlines the emirate’s ambitions to transform into a smart and sustainable city, while the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050 has set a roadmap for diversifying energy resources. Companies and organisations must take note and work towards these goals.

At ENOC we do this by complementing the goals of both energy diversity and demand management through our green initiatives, which are also building blocks to achieving a smart Dubai.

As an example, earlier this year we launched the UAE’s first solar-powered service station – a significant step in our journey to support the government’s vision to cut CO2 emissions by 70 per cent by 2050.

This venture aligns ENOC and Dubai in enhancing awareness among the public on the issue of sustainable development, making the company and the emirate active partners in promoting positive change. Initiatives such as this diminish the load on the national grid, helping to create a template for a smart city of the future.

A further example of this type of partnership is the electric vehicle charging stations in 10 of our service stations. This collaboration with the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) encourages more people to use electric cars that reduce the burden on natural resources.

We also encourage the use of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) powered vehicles – another key step in promoting alternative fuels. Vehicles powered by alternate forms of energy have tremendous potential, and will be central to the Smart Dubai that the leadership envisions.

The focus on economic and energy diversification is important, especially in a low oil price environment. It is important to realise that fuel subsidies must not be taken for granted. As responsible citizens, greater emphasis must be placed on conserving and optimising energy use.

This is why smart cities are not just about embracing digital solutions but innovating and introducing solutions that foster sustainable growth and promote connectivity and mobility.

Whether it’s a new way to use automobiles, making all your cashless transactions at a convenience store, or something else, smart cities touch people’s lives positively through paradigm shifts in efficiency across all points of everyday life.

Zaid Alqufaidi is managing director at ENOC Retail

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