The Continued Growth of the ‘Silicon Oasis’ and its effects on eCommerce in the GCC

When it comes to embracing emerging tech, the UAE is proving to be leading from the front. 

Dubai is an ideal meeting point for Europe and Asia to come together, and after a year of virtual blockchain and crypto events across the world, professionals and enthusiasts from across the globe, in this space, excitedly welcomed the inaugural 3-day in-person AiBC UAE Summit event, hosting 3,000 attendees in Dubai on Tuesday 25th May to Thursday 27th May.

AiBC is a leading global events platform for blockchain, AI, crypto, and other emerging technologies; so perfect to hold a conference on these popular subjects in the tech-heavy business environment of Dubai, also becoming known as the “Silicon Oasis”.

“The UAE and Dubai are always at the forefront of innovation and blockchain and crypto assets still have huge potential for growth and innovation. This is true in regards to both the technology and the financial aspects. We as Dubai Blockchain Center aim to create a fertile environment to foster innovation and educate everyone on the applicable use-cases of this revolutionary economic system that is created by blockchain technology,” said Dr Marwan Alzarouni, CEO, Dubai Blockchain Centre, who gave the opening speech at the summit on Tuesday.

So what does this mean to ecommerce in the GCC?

It means it is an opportunity for digital and progressive local and global business brands to leverage the tech innovations, particularly around Blockchain, as well as the openness that is taking place, which has no signs of slowing down.

This is illustrated even more so, by a report by one of the leading Blockchain business entities in the space today, Consensys, defining Dubai’s aim to be the happiest city on earth by using blockchain technology to power the ‘City of the Future.’

Smart Dubai is the government office charged with facilitating Dubai’s citywide smart transformation, to empower, deliver and promote an efficient, seamless, safe and impactful city experience for residents and visitors.

In doing so, they are leading on this initiative by focusing on ‘three strategic pillars: government efficiency, industry creation and international leadership’. One aspect of this is their ‘Startup Support’ initiative, in alignment with “Invest in Dubai – Your Gateway to Capital Ambition”, another government office, as such, the ability for international brands and entrepreneurs to partake in these developments are exciting and fast paced.

Smart Dubai strategies for ‘startups’, for example, have included hosting a Global Blockchain Challenge which involved inviting Blockchain startups from across the globe to pitch their blockchain innovations with the potential of them being implemented in Dubai.

The Dubai Smart City Accelerator, operated by Startupbootcamp, the global network of industry-focused startup accelerators, the programme targeted startups developing innovative solutions to help make cities smarter and provide solutions to everyday challenges, built around smart buildings, transportation, intelligent logistics, smart lifestyles and smart planning & maintenance.

And finally, Dubai Future Accelerators (DFA), an intense short program bringing the world’s most exciting technology companies in to couple up with leading government organizations to create transformational solutions.

When we think “smart cities”, it includes a myriad of tech, which of course, also touches on lifestyle, aka “smart lifestyles”. This is where e-commerce’s most prevalent business model of “click and deliver” comes into play.

A good friend of mine, from Canada, who recently moved to Abu Dhabi, the capital city of UAE, with her husband and family, found herself in a predicament where she had a mobile chip but not a mobile. Due to the need to quarantine on arrival she was unable to go to the store and purchase a phone. It was only following a desperate conversation with a receptionist at her hotel that it was suggested “why don’t you use Amazon?”.

With one click of a button her situation was resolved! Her phone arrived the next day and she was able to continue her arrangements of transitioning her life, and that of her family. 

Sara Dwela writes for Halls & Partners, “The success and growth of e-commerce in the UAE is only the starting point for what we see as major regional shifts in shopping habits. Brands will need to develop online strategies and keep next generation consumers in mind throughout the process if they want to be successful in competing with local and global players in this space”

So, three key points to take from this are –

  1. If you haven’t done so already, have an e-commerce strategy on how to capitalise and leverage your brand to win!
  2. Attend any and all events on emerging technologies, so you can evolve your strategy! This space is fast-moving and very innovative.
  3. As a local and/or global business, utilize the extensive resources being provided to the business community by government bodies and their associations. I don’t think there has ever been a time of openness with “global visa” for businesses being offered from countries across the world than now, and who knows if there will be such a time ever again.

Lavinia Osbourne is a blockchain, tech and business thought leader, and is the host and founder of Women in Blockchain Talks, a female-led and female- focused educational and event networking platform, open to ALL genders. Women in Blockchain Talks holds various monthly events which anyone can attend.