Government and IT leaders, advisors and experts came together in Abu Dhabi to examine the digital revolution and explore the potential opportunities presented by emerging technologies and how it can reinvent processes and reshape experiences for stakeholders.
The inaugural Digital Next Summit, running from 8-9 December at Jumeriah Hotel, Etihad Towers, Abu Dhabi, brought together 34 speakers from the public and private sectors. It delved into how digital transformation can enable governments, businesses and individuals achieve excellence through technology.
The summit, hosted by Abu Dhabi Digital Authority (ADDA) and organised by Messe Frankfurt Middle East, highlighted how important digital transformation is now to economic competitiveness, quality of life, business and personal growth.
In her keynote address, Dr. Rauda Al Saadi, Director General, ADDA said that annual spending on digital transformation is set to exceed US$ 40 billion by 2022, and highlighted focal points for government including the integration of government entities and provision of omni-channel customer services, through to digital infrastructure, and innovation through the analysis of big-data via artificial intelligence.
Abu Dhabi already plays a central role in the UAE’s digital future and supports the nation’s strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This strategy outlines intelligent government services as a key focus area in efforts to deliver the world’s best intelligent, seamless and customer-centric government services that enhance happiness and wellbeing.
In his speech, Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh, Minister of State and Executive Chairman, Abu Dhabi Global Markets highlighted the rapid pace of change in technology which offers governments and businesses alike the ability to do more than ever before. He said: “As leaders we must take calculated risks that make us more resilient in the future.” He ended his session by saying, “As we approach a new decade, we cannot afford to not be digital anymore.”
Omar bin Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence said that the UAE’s Artificial Intelligence strategy comes with lessons from the past and visions for the future. “Today, AI will boost all major sectors including tourism, infrastructure and real estate. The UAE will become an AI leader and will be at the forefront of digital transformation in the next decade due to its unique characteristics.
“We have more than 200 nationalities, which means we have the most diverse data set on the planet. For AI to thrive, we need volume of data, variety of data and velocity of data. Since 2002, we have undergone a long process from being a traditional government to a smart government. Today, we are a government of the future and we can lead in the area of AI and technology. Our AI strategy revolves around talent and capacity building; our consultative policy-making framework and the responsible development and deployment of AI.”
Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment commented on how technology can be leveraged to reduce the impact on the environment, pinpointing UAE efforts such as the use of AI and drones to identify the most suitable agricultural areas, and a smart map of natural capital in the UAE which identifies local biologically rich ecosystems and provides data which informs better decision making on land use and investment.
Other key speakers in the morning session were Juri Luik, Minister of Defence, Republic, Estonia, Peng Xiao, Chief Executive Officer, G42, Jack Dangermond, Founder and President, Esri, Hayden Stafford, Corporate Vice President of WW Business Applications, Microsoft and Nigel Vaz, Chief Executive Officer, Publicis Sapient.
The morning was followed by thought-provoking, innovative tracks on GX Next and Cyber Next featuring powerful speakers from the public and private sectors. The two-day event’s authoritative public and private sector speaker line-up also included C-suite executives of major corporations, government ministers and specialists.