Dubai: Dubai will enable the testing of prototypes of drones in designated areas and develop supporting legislation, it was announced on Saturday.
The ‘Dubai Programme to Enable Drone Transportation’ was launched by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai, and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Dubai Future Foundation (DFF).
The launch and signing took place during the recent Dubai Airshow 2021 that drew the participation of more than 1,200 exhibitors as well as civilian and military delegations from over 140 countries.
The programme promotes the development and adoption of cutting-edge technologies in line with the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, to strengthen Dubai’s global competitiveness in adopting advanced technologies in vital sectors.
Sheikh Hamdan said: “The Dubai Programme to Enable Drone Transportation will create an advanced infrastructure that enables innovators and relevant entities to test prototypes of unmanned aerial vehicles in designated areas and develop legislation that optimises their implementation. The programme aims to provide new economic opportunities and consolidate Dubai’s leadership in advanced technology research and development across diverse future-oriented sectors.”
He added: “Our projects place quality of life at the top of their priorities. We will continue to develop and implement innovative ideas on the ground. We have the right environment, infrastructure, and legislation for the use of drones. We also have the laboratories, expertise and talent to translate prototypes into viable solutions.
Sheikh Haman concluded: “We have recognised the potential of drones in shaping the future early on, and started testing it in the UAE through attracting thousands of innovators in this field from 165 countries to participate in the UAE Drones for Good Award that we launched in 2014. This marked the beginning of our journey with this emerging technology, and reaffirmed our belief in the importance of leveraging future technologies for the benefit of humankind.”
For the programme, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between several government and private sector entities was signed to start its operations.
Witnessing the signing were Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA), Chairman of Dubai Airports, and Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group; Omar bin Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy, and Teleworking Applications; and Mattar Mohammed Al Tayer, Director-General, Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) and Commissioner General for Infrastructure, Urban Planning and Well-Being.
Signatories included DFF, DCAA, Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority (DSOA), Fakeeh University Hospital, Majid Al Futtaim, and Emirates SkyCargo.
The agreement was signed by Mohammed Abdulla Ahli, CEO of DCAA; Khalfan Belhoul, CEO of DFA; Ahmed Bahrozyan, CEO of RTA’s Public Transport Agency; Muammar Al Katheeri, Executive Vice President at Engineering and Smart City, DSOA; Alain Bejjani, CEO of Majid Al Futtaim; Nabil Sultan, Divisional Senior Vice President at Emirates SkyCargo; and Ammar Soliman Fakeeh, Chairman of the Board of Fakeeh Care Group.
The primary objective of the Dubai Programme to Enable Drone Transportation is exploring the use of drones in several sectors, including health, security, shipping and food. The programme seeks to improve people’s lives by reducing carbon emissions generated by traditional shipping and transportation methods and facilitating the movement of goods and materials. This way, it will contribute to positioning Dubai as one of the smartest cities in the world.
The programme also aims to attract talent as well as local and foreign investments to the drone applications sector, in addition to creating new jobs and stimulating economic activity in relevant fields.
DFF will oversee the implementation of the outputs of the Dubai Program to Enable Drone Transportation through Dubai Future Labs, the first applied R&D lab in the region specialising in future technology, in partnership with DCAA, DSOA, Fakeeh University Hospital, Majid Al Futtaim, and Emirates SkyCargo, Talabat and Kitopi.
A unique pilot area will be allocated in Dubai Silicon Oasis for innovators and related entities from the UAE and abroad to develop and test new drone solutions and transform them into effective services that improve people’s lives and help achieve national economic goals.
The Dubai Program to Enable Drone Transportation will significantly contribute to the development of the emirate’s transport and shipping infrastructure, which is considered one of the most advanced in the world and support the growth of multiple economic sectors. The programme will also place great emphasis on upgrading the underlying digital infrastructure in cooperation with its partners.
Participants of the programme will benefit from an enabling legislative framework that facilitates drone technology prototyping, testing, development, and implementation.
In July 2020, Sheikh Mohammed issued a law regulating the use of drones in Dubai in accordance with the highest international standards and best practices, and creating an environment conducive to investment in this sector.
Airstrips and mini-airports
Sheikh Ahmed said: “This Act is considered one of the projects of the Dubai Sky Dome Initiative; this initiative aims to create a virtual airspace infrastructure for drone systems, through which public spaces and buildings will be connected through airstrips and mini-airports throughout Dubai and to develop major infrastructure schemes for airports, airstrips, multi-use stations and ground service sites.”
He added: “The schemes will include promoting the concept of public transport in the emirate, creating multi-modular transportation systems in order to promote the concept of integration of air vehicles and different ground transportation systems.
Sheikh Ahmed concluded: “This initiative will also include the development of systems to manage the movement of drones and the development of an integrated smart platform for all services related to the organisation of drone operations, such as the granting of immediate permits to drones and their operators, in order to ensure air security and safety and ensure that the efficiency of emirates’ airspace is not affected.
“This programme is considered one of the leading and innovative initiatives that are the result of joint efforts between government and private parties in order to achieve the vision of the future. We aim to make innovation a way of life, a modus operandi and a competitive advantage that will enhance the sustainability of the United Arab Emirates and Dubai’s global status.”
Omar bin Sultan Al Olama: UAE and Dubai were able to enhance their status as innovative destinations
On this occasion, Omar Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications, confirmed that the UAE and Dubai had been able to strengthen their position as a global laboratory, a destination for intellectuals and creators, and an attractive environment for start-ups to test their innovations and ideas and provide solutions to the challenges facing the future various vital sectors; a translation of the guidelines of [Sheikh Mohammed] related to promoting the use of the modern technologies and infrastructure that Dubai owns in order to establish its global leadership and to build a brighter future for generations to come.
Al Olama noted that the launch of the Dubai Program to Enable Drone Transportation reflects the vision of the Dubai Government and the role of the Dubai Future Foundation in promoting partnership with the private sector, using modern technology and artificial intelligence tools to explore future opportunities, and developing the business sector in order to contribute to building a knowledge-based and innovative national digital economy that improves people’s lives.
Mattar Mohammed Al Tayer: The MoU boosts the trials of autonomous air vehicles and self-driving transport
Mattar Mohammed Al Tayer, Director-General, Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) said that the signing of the MoU with the Dubai Future Foundation constituted a big push in support of trials of autonomous vehicles. “The MoU will also leverage Dubai Programme for Autonomous Air Vehicle Services in designated test zones across Dubai. It will also support the Dubai Self-Driving Transport Strategy aimed to convert 25 per cent of total mobility journeys to driverless journeys by 2030,” he said.
“Self-driving transport has become a reality. International firms are moving faster in developing technologies and software of autonomous vehicles. Under the leadership of [Sheikh Mohammed] Dubai is taking a leading role in venturing self-driving transport and has launched its Self-Driving Transport Strategy in 2016.
“RTA is keen to turn the vision and directives of His Highness into reality through carrying out trials on various patterns of autonomous vehicles and mobility means. Experiments included the trial run of a 10-seater electricity-powered autonomous vehicle, the first autonomous air taxi and automated and connected smart mobility pods of different sizes and volumes of demand. RTA has also signed an agreement with General Motor’s Cruise to deploy the company’s autonomous vehicles to provide taxi service and shared mobility by 2023.
“RTA has also charted out a plan to upgrade the infrastructure for autonomous vehicles and air taxis. It has also coordinated with the relevant bodies to enact legislation and rules to govern autonomous vehicles and enhance the community’s acceptance of this technology. Such efforts also include developing stipulations and regulations for the testing and licensing of autonomous vehicles along with insurance and accountability structures.
“This MoU supports RTA’s efforts to promote Dubai World Congress and Challenge for Self-Driving Transport, which has recently completed its 2nd edition by signing three agreements with participating companies to develop technology solutions for self-driving transport,” concluded Al Tayer.
Khalfan Belhoul: Innovative solutions from Dubai that use drone technologies in new applications
Khalfan Juma Belhoul, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Future Foundation, said that the Dubai Program to Enable Drone Transportation, launched by Sheikh Hamdan on Saturday is a new milestone in the process of designing the future of Dubai, and supports its regional and global leadership in the field of adopting, testing and applying the latest innovations and international practices in the service of man.
Belhoul said that Dubai Future Laboratories, under the Dubai Future Foundation, will provide technical and technological support to all program partners from public and private sectors, in addition to supporting innovative ideas and projects and developing the digital infrastructure and regulatory legislation required to come up with innovative solutions developed in Dubai to employ drone technology in new applications and fields that enhance the competitiveness of future economic sectors in Dubai and the UAE.
Dr Mohammed Al Zarooni: The programme shapes a more efficient and sustainable smart logistical services industry
Dr Mohammed Al Zarooni, Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority, said: “As strategic partners of the Dubai Program to Enable Drone Transportation, and in line with our commitment to contribute to its success, Dubai Silicon Oasis will provide the piloting zone for the program’s innovative applications. The unprecedented program will shape a more efficient and sustainable smart logistical services industry for future smart societies.”
He added: “In line with our commitment to be a key destination for testing smart city technologies and an incubator for innovation experts and leaders, we are delighted to host this groundbreaking programme. The programme will utilize fourth industrial revolution technologies, offering new opportunities within the digital economy ecosystem, in line with the Smart Transport pillar of DSOA’s Smart City Strategy. As a technology and knowledge hub within the Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan, DSO is keen on being an open lab for the latest innovations and developments, positioning Dubai as a preferred city to live and work.”
Nabil Sultan: Future opportunities for using drones in various sectors
Nabil Sultan, Emirates Divisional Senior Vice President, Cargo, said: “Emirates SkyCargo is proud to be working with the Dubai Future Foundation on the Dubai Program to Enable Drone Transportation launched by [Sheikh Hamdan]. Innovation is a core part of the Emirates DNA and we are constantly evaluating technologies that can make supply chains more efficient and resilient.”
There is potential in the usage of drones and other unmanned aerial vehicles for last-mile transportation and delivery of essential commodities and other cargo such as e-commerce. The setting up of the pilot area in Dubai for delivery by drones will facilitate advancement in the test and use case development of this technology not only in the UAE but also in other parts of the world, opening up markets for new investment and economic opportunities.”
Alain Bejjani: Unlimited opportunities for various economic sectors
Alain Bejjani, Chief Executive Officer, Majid Al Futtaim, said: “This partnership encapsulates how organisations from various sectors can work together to use technology and deliver solutions for the future. We are fortunate in the UAE to work under the leadership of a forward-thinking government, that not only provides the ecosystem for innovation to thrive but ensures that infrastructure, regulations and talent are in place for scaled operations in the future.”
He added: “There is no doubt that the use of drone technology has great potential for all industries. Drone delivery operations can be faster, safer, more cost-effective and environmentally friendly. At Majid Al Futtaim we are extremely proud that Carrefour will be one of the first brands to pilot and enhance the use of drones in last-mile delivery.”
Ammar Fakeeh: An initiative that employs modern technologies to enhance the efficiency of the health sector
Ammar Soliman Fakeeh, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Fakeeh Care Group, said: “At the Fakeeh Academic Medical Center, we look forward to resume working together with our partners in the government and private sector, so that Dubai becomes the first city in the region to adopt this leading system using the most important modern technologies in strengthening the health sector and maintaining the Emirate’s status as the world’s leading health-care destination.”
Dr Fakeeh added that the programme is in line with our strategies based on building a committed smart and integrated medical care model over four decades at the Fakeeh Care Group in Saudi Arabia. “We look forward to the implementation of this project and its addition to the set of leading and innovative initiatives and projects launched and supported by the Dubai Government.”