UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has announced a strategy for the country to use database technology blockchain for half of government transactions by 2021.
The plan follows a similar commitment from the Dubai government to use the digital ledger technology, which was originally developed to manage transactions using digital currency bitcoin, for all government documents by 2020.
“The adoption of this technology will reflect on the quality of life in the UAE and will enhance people’s happiness levels,” Sheikh Mohammed said.
“This technology will save time, effort and resources and enable individuals to conduct most of their transactions in a timely manner that suits their lifestyle and work.”
He said that the adoption of blockchain would help the government prepare for future challenges, save Dhs11bn ($2.99bn) “spent annually to provide and document transactions and documents”, free up 77 million hours of work, reduce government documents by 389 million and save 1.6 billion kilometres spent driving.
Blockchain is a distributed ledger where every transaction or input is recorded in a tamper and revision proof record shared between all parties.
The UAE plan includes four pillars focussing on citizen and resident happiness, government efficiency, advanced legislation and global entrepreneurship.
The government will use training courses, events, workshops and reports to build its standing in blockchain and support university courses specialising in the field and related subjects like encryption.
Middle East blockchain spending is set to double this year from $38.9m in 2017 to $80.8m in 2018, consultancy International Data Corporation said in a February report.
Looking further forward, regional spending is expected to reach $307m by 2021, representing a compound annual growth rate of 77.4 per cent in the 2016-2021 period.
Dubai has sought to position itself as a leader of the technology through the formation of the Global Blockchain Council and city-wide projects with technology companies.