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Close to 80 percent of UAE residents happy living in a smart city: Survey

Nearly 79% of UAE residents said they would be happy living in a smart city  and more than half (53%) of them highlighted living in a sustainable city as the most exciting innovation for smart cities, according to a survey conducted by Mastercard in collaboration with Smart Dubai and Expo 2020 Dubai.

The 'Building the Cities of the Future report' aimed at understanding the motivation of UAE citizens and residents in shaping the future development of smart cities.

Environmentally friendly business practices, paperless government services, and fast, affordable, city-wide internet connectivity were listed as top three resident expectations of a smart city. The majority (67%) of respondents shared that they expect their smartphones to be the primary channel to access city services.  Respondents cited ultra-fast mobile connections, driverless taxis, and virtual medical diagnoses from AI doctors as the most exciting innovations in the cities of the future.

The virtual launch of the report was addressed by H.E. Younus Al Nasser, Assistant Director General, Smart Dubai & CEO, Dubai Data Establishment, and featured a panel discussion with industry experts from Mastercard, Smart Dubai and Expo 2020 Dubai.

The report explores how residents’ aspirations are driving the development of smart cities using new technologies, and outlines the trends and innovations paving the way for a brighter, more connected future for global cities.

“This study clearly highlights the importance and power of partnerships when it comes to developing smart cities and driving sustainable and inclusive growth. Consumers are clear about their expectations, and it is the responsibility of the private and public sectors to come together to build inclusive, dynamic cities,” said Elias Aad, Vice President, Head of Strategic Growth Business, MENA, Mastercard.

Sustainability emerged as a key aspiration for smart cities across all age groups. The study found that an overwhelming segment (53%) of UAE respondents consider living in a sustainable city as the most exciting innovation in future smart cities, and this increases with respondents’ age.

Over half (54%) of respondents expect COVID-19 to accelerate the development of smart cities, and many respondents also report that they expect habits adopted during the pandemic to change their behavior permanently. The top three trends expected to continue are working from home (27%), less cash and the preference of card, contactless and electronic payments (21%) and an increase in online shopping with reduced shopping trips to malls (15%).

Dubai has been ranked the best smart center in the Arab world for development of creativity, innovation and delivery of new technology, according to the second edition of the Smart Centre Index (SCI).

Dubai has emerged as one of the early adopters of innovation to create an interconnected, intelligent city with digital technology embedded across its functions. Led by Smart Dubai, the city has transformed itself into a model smart city through the Smart Dubai 2021 strategy, revolutionizing the way government services are delivered to its people by launching over 100 smart initiatives and 1000 smart services over three years and recording over 3% of an increase in happiness levels across the city.

Smart Dubai aspires to make Dubai the happiest city on earth through smart technology and innovation and works closely with Mastercard to make cities more inclusive and sustainable.

The UAE is committed to a sustainable future, having included a focus on sustainable development as part of its Vision 2021.

Iman Alomrani, Deputy Chief Technology Officer, Expo 2020 Dubai, said: “World Expos have influenced the development of cities for 170 years through iconic structures and advances in technology and engineering. Expo 2020 will break new boundaries, working with innovative partners such as Mastercard to play an instrumental role in structuring future smart cities through numerous initiatives and activations – environmental, technological and economical – that will live on well after the event.

“Over the past few years, we have raised Dubai’s profile as a smart city that meets the needs of its citizens. The quest to continue learning, knowledge contributions and collaborations is key to the development of tomorrow’s smart cities, and as a member of Mastercard’s City Possible network, we are actively engaged in sharing our experiences and taking on board global best practices,” said Meera Al Shaikh, International Relations and Partnerships Section Manager, Smart Dubai.