Still from video showing the drone delivery in Cedre Villas community in DSO Image Credit: Screengrab

Dubai: The Middle East witnessed the first successful trial in the region of delivery of medicine via a drone, in Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSO), it was announced today.

The trial is in line with the objectives of the ‘Dubai Programme to Enable Drone Transportation’ launched by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai in 2021.

The programme aims at increasing the efficiency of transportation services by utilising drones for various purposes. It seeks to provide an advanced infrastructure that enables innovators and relevant entities to test new drone solutions in designated areas.

The completion of the trial makes Fakeeh University Hospital, based in DSO, the first healthcare provider in the Middle East to leverage drone technology for medication delivery. The achievement took place within a 10km radius, transporting medication from the hospital to a patient’s home in Cedre Villas, a gated community in DSO.

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It follows a series of year-long trials conducted at Dubai Silicon Oasis, the special economic zone for knowledge and innovation and a member of the Dubai Integrated Economic Zones Authority (DIEZ), in collaboration with the Dubai Future Foundation (DFF), the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA), and Barq Air, an Emirati smart mobility company and a holder of two Guinness World Records for executing the longest flight of a drone for the delivery service and the longest non-stop return flight for a drone.

The Dubai Integrated Economic Zones Authority has provided “crucial support” in establishing Dubai Silicon Oasis as an “ideal environment” for testing innovative and smart technology solutions.

Master Plan

Dr Juma Al Matrooshi, director-general of Dubai Silicon Oasis, said: “As a knowledge and innovation hub within the Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan, Dubai Silicon Oasis is renowned for supporting the development and piloting of innovative and smart technology solutions. In line with our role within the ‘Dubai Programme to Enable Drone Transportation’, we are committed to empowering entities from the UAE and abroad to develop and test new drone solutions that boost efficiency and convenience.”

Dr Fatih Mehmet Gul, CEO at Fakeeh University Hospital, said: “This initiative marks a substantial leap forward in enhancing healthcare accessibility and achieving complete digitalisation... We firmly believe that the potential of modern technology is limitless, and this is just the beginning of what future technologies have in store.”

Benefits of drones

Drones eliminate geographical barriers, allowing patients to receive medication without on-ground delays. Drone delivery also significantly reduces the carbon footprint associated with traditional transportation methods. Additionally, the system incorporates advanced features, including collision avoidance technology and real-time monitoring, which guarantees the secure transportation of medication.