For the past few days, more than 4,000 exhibitors and some 750 start-ups gathered at Dubai’s World Trade Centre for the annual Gitex Technology Week, and with technology changing virtually by the day, it’s a highly significant event to showcase and promote the artificial intelligence and emerging technologies shaping shape our lives fundamentally now.

It was almost a decade ago that 4G technology was rolled out, allowing us to stream media on mobile phones, making smartphones smarter and changing the way we interact with each other and how we literally view the world.

The next quantum leap into 5G technology will ensure that we live in an era where the unlimited potential of the internet will be everywhere at any time and, eventually, at any place.

Who would have thought that augmented reality would potentially allow us to improve our everyday lives, providing us with information at our fingertips, or on our wrists?

In many ways, given the very modern nature of Dubai, along with the embrace of the leadership and government for new and innovative technologies, the city is a perfect testing ground and arena in which to roll out these futuristic services and apps that will fundamentally change how we live. That brave future is already upon us.

Last week, for example, Dubai International Airport, along with the General Directorate of Residence and Foreigner Affairs (GDRFA), rolled out the pilot test phase of a new smart tunnel, allowing passengers to pass through border control by simply walking through sensors. GDRFA have been working on the idea for the past four years, and it’s a world first.

Another innovative app, UAEpass, was rolled out at Gitex, verifying smartphone users’ identities, allowing them to access basic government services and conduct sensitive private business transactions in all the seven emirates.

Already, Dubai is at the stage in its technological advancement where driverless smart taxis may very well be soon on its streets, and because of the leadership’s commitment to embrace these advances, it will be a decade ahead of other cities in utilising these services and artificial intelligence.

The annual Gitex provides an opportunity for local organisations and companies to showcase their latest apps, with both Du and Etisalat promoting their latest advances. In the field of health services too, the advances being showcased will make a very positive and dramatic difference on our health and well-being. While e-commerce has undermined some traditional retailers who have failed to innovate and move with the times, it does provide a new and exciting opportunity for retailers to connect with customers anywhere and at any time. Gitex shows what the future will bring — and it is a future that is being embraced now in Dubai.