hamdan gitex
Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai opened the 40th Gitex Technology Week at Dubai World Trade Centre Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

In its landmark 40th year, the current edition of Gitex Technology Week that’s already under way at the Dubai World Trade Centre is anything but business as usual.

Hosting more than 1,200 exhibitors — including over 300 start-ups — from 60 countries around the world, Gitex has united all corners of the global tech industry as the only major technology event to provide opportunity for in-person networking this year. After a year of missed business opportunities, the entire tech industry, governments and entrepreneurs have made a beeline to witness groundbreaking post-pandemic technologies, high-octane tech conferences and futuristic innovations at the five-day event.

But Gitex this year is more than a gathering of the world’s tech elite or a display of flying cars and Martian robots. In the year of the coronavirus, Gitex represents the pinnacle of the UAE’s relentless fight to contain the impact of the pandemic, both in terms of health as well as economic and business continuity, as well as a glimpse into the UAE’s robust digital economy.

As succinctly observed by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, “We will conclude 2020 with a global event and we will start 2021 with a series of projects and major initiatives. 2021 is our fiftieth year and our Golden Jubilee, and it will be different from all years.”

Indeed, whether it’s the federal government, local government departments, health agencies or the private sector, institutions and individuals in the UAE have shown great resilience to the pandemic that has plunged the world into a crisis like no other. Gitex is the culmination of the tireless efforts of all of them working in close coordination with the UAE’s Covid-19 front line heroes to host a highly successful in-person event this year.

“Gitex will be the most important technology event in 2020 ... The UAE will be the fastest country in the world to recover and our institutions have proven their ability to adapt,” Shaikh Mohammed tweeted while announcing the launch of Gitex Technology Week.

Gitex has traditionally also been an important barometer of business — last year’s edition generated Dh1.6 billion in revenues for Dubai, while the retained value for the emirate’s GDP was Dh919 million. In addition, the weeklong event also creates significant work opportunities for a wide cross-section of people.

It is the whole gamut of tech-driven experiences on display at Gitex that have enabled life around the world to continue regardless of the obstacles posed by Covid-19. Along with its vital economic role, Gitex has thus become the focal point this year to showcase how Dubai leveraged technology to combat the pandemic and prepare for the UAE’s glorious Golden Jubilee ahead.