Digital Readiness Retreat explores developing digital business models for government; launches State of Digital Transformation Report – UAE

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The Higher Committee for Government Digital Transformation launched the second edition of the UAE Government Digital Readiness Retreat, sponsored by the Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA).

The event was attended by six ministers, 20 speakers, and over 300 government officials representing 50 federal, local, and ministerial entities, with the aim of highlighting milestones of government digital transformation journey, exploring modern digital business models for government, eliminating digital bureaucracy, and boosting national digital integration.

The retreat unveiled the first-ever report on government digital transformation across 12 government sectors and launched four digital initiatives, including UAE University’s high-performance computing platform, first government digital community dedicated to national digital integration, the Unified Design Principles for Government Websites, and the GovTech platform. The event hosted seven signing ceremonies of memoranda of understanding (MoUs) for enhancing digital collaboration across sectors, as well as three digital labs led by select digital leaders who explored eliminating digital bureaucracy, the future of APIs, and the principle of ‘One-Time Data Request’ in government digital processes to streamline government services.

Ohood bint Khalfan Al Roumi, Minister of State for Government Development and the Future, Chairwoman of the Higher Committee for Government Digital Transformation, emphasised that “Digital readiness is a priority for the UAE’s wise leadership and a key government responsibility.” She added, “The UAE has excelled in digital quality craftsmanship, and we see the reflections of its digital achievements in topping global rankings in digital transformation. The UAE is globally recognized as a preferred destination for investment and living, thanks to the quality of the digital experience in terms of lifestyle, services, and business.”

She explained that adopting a ‘digital-first’ mindset by institutions for digital thought, design and implementation of business models, services, and projects would empower government to sidestep digital bureaucracy. She added, “Digital transformation will remain a national priority, underpinning all digital development efforts across government sectors.”

Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri, Minister of Economy, said, “Under the guidance of the wise leadership, the UAE has placed great significance on developing the government services system according to the best international practices and enabling innovative digital service models based on advanced technologies and AI”.

“The Ministry of Economy continues to digitally transform all services delivered to individuals, institutions, companies, and government entities with focus on user experience and accessibility. The ministry was the first federal entity to transform all its services into 100% digital,” he added.

Dr. Abdulrahman Abdulmannan Al Awar, Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation, stated, “The Digital Readiness Retreat is a key event where we showcase latest efforts, initiatives, and projects in support of the ‘Zero Bureaucracy’ program by embracing the latest technologies and innovations to streamline services and enhance digital customer journeys, thereby advancing the UAE’s prominent position as one of the world’s leading destinations for living, working, and investing.”

Minister of Climate Change and Environment, Dr. Amna bint Abdullah Al Dahak, stated: “Digital transformation represents one of the most important indicators for developing services and operations in various government and private entities across all sectors, and the UAE is one of the most successful global models in this crucial field. The Digital Readiness Retreat for the leaders of the UAE government is an opportunity for integration, coordination, and highlighting the latest digital solutions in the country.”

She added: “The digital revolution has had a significant impact on the environment and climate by reducing consumption of natural resources and lowering the carbon footprint for individuals, organizations, and various sectors, making digital solutions one of the most important climate-smart solutions and a means to achieve a low-carbon economy.”

Omar Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy, and Remote Work Applications, Director General of the Prime Minister’s Office, Vice-Chairman of the Higher Committee for Government Digital Transformation, said, ” Under the leadership of President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and with the guidance of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai, the UAE adopts a comprehensive approach for leveraging rapid technological advancements to shape the next generation of government and enhance quality of life for society and individuals.”

He added, “The Digital Readiness Retreat reflects the forward-thinking vision of the UAE leadership, with a focus on expanding tech innovation, developing proactive solutions, and accelerating end-to-end digital transformation across sectors.” He underscored the significance of government collaboration in driving digital transformation and bolstering government resilience for the challenges of the digital era.

Maryam bint Ahmed Al Hammadi, Minister of State and Secretary-General of the Cabinet, said: “The largest legislative transformation in the history of the UAE accomplished during the past three years has contributed to enabling digital transformation and digitization of business models in key sectors and providing the supportive environment for achieving this transformation.”

“Keeping pace with technological advancements, digital transformation, and contributing to accelerating the adoption of emerging technologies and transformative business models are essential criteria for adopting any legislative update. The legislative updates regulated digital commercial transactions that eliminated boundaries and barriers to the flow of goods and services, organized new digital sectors and provided a secure environment for digital transformation,” she added.

Engineer Majed Sultan Al Mesmar, Director General, the Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA), stated, “Our life today is characterized by an era of rapid shifts and increasing reliance on data and AI, which calls for exchanging of views and proposals to unify efforts towards achieving the objectives of the ‘We the UAE 2031’ vision and the UAE Centennial Plan 2071.”

“The Digital Readiness Retreat, which aims for a new milestone in the UAE’s digital transformation journey, underscores the importance of enhanced integration and coordination among all federal and local government entities across all sectors,” he added.

Dr. Mohammed Hamad Al Kuwaiti, Chairman of the Cyber Security Council, said, “The Digital Readiness Retreat is a crucial step towards smart and secure government integration, serving as a fundamental pillar for achieving governmental system of excellence.” Dr. Al Kuwaiti pointed out that in the face of increasing cyber threats, the importance of digital security cannot be overlooked as a fundamental element to ensure the sustainability of development and the growth of the digital economy. He added, “Our coordinated efforts will undoubtedly contribute to cementing our country’s position as a leading model in secure digital transformation, enhancing the trust of citizens and residents in digital government services, and driving sustainable development and the prosperity of the digital economy.”

Sheikh Saud bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Director General of the Sharjah Digital Department, said, “At Sharjah Digital Department, we believe that digital transformation enhances the quality of services and the quality of life for residents, and drives sustainable development forward. Therefore, we have worked on developing a roadmap to enhance digital transformation for government services through advanced technological processes and systems that keep pace with the latest digital technologies and adhere to the highest international standards.” He added, “We have also strengthened the Emirate’s capacity to use data by developing a data management and governance strategy to ensure its privacy, as well as to ensure optimal use of advanced technologies such as AI and big data analytics.”

Dr. Mohammed Abdul Hamid Al Askar, Director General of the “Tamm” Program at the Abu Dhabi Department of Government Enablement, said, “As the UAE continues to steer the global discussions about Digital Transformation, Abu Dhabi Government seeks to reinforce these efforts by reaffirming its commitment to further solidifying the Emirate’s pioneering position in digital government services and exemplary model of government integration.”

Matar Saeed Al Humairi, CEO, Smart Dubai Government Establishment, Digital Dubai, said: “The Digital Readiness Retreat represents a gathering of the united national team to envision the next steps in the digital transformation journey, thereby enhancing our country’s rightful position and leadership in this field. At Dubai Digital Government, we consider such gatherings as valuable opportunities for exchanging views and experiences to increase integration and connectivity opportunities, particularly in the era we live in, where new concepts and working methods emerge driven by artificial intelligence and other technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

Extensive Agenda

The agenda of the digital retreat covered five key themes with live interactive sessions attended by ministers, digital leaders, and international experts, highlighting new business models in government, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, digital integration, and zeroing digital bureaucracy.

New Digital Business Models

The new digital business models took center stage at the retreat, featuring a session titled “From the Cockpit: Digitizing Government Tasks.” The session was hosted by Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri, Minister of Economy, Dr. Abdulrahman Al Awar, Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation, Her Excellency Dr. Amna bint Abdullah Al Dahak, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, and Maryam Bint Ahmed Al Hammadi, Minister of State and Secretary-General of the Cabinet. The session was moderated by journalist Ahmed Al Marzooqi. This theme included a session as well titled “The Secret Recipe for Digital Institutions: 5 Steps to Digital Transformation,” hosted by global digital transformation expert David Rogers.

Artificial Intelligence

Under the AI theme, Omar bin Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence and Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications, spoke in a session titled: “Artificial Intelligence: A Futuristic Vision for its Applications in Serving Society”.


Eliminating Digital Bureaucracy

The agenda moreover covered eliminating digital bureaucracy, featuring a session titled “Digital Bureaucracy… GIGO” with Mohammed bin Taliah, Chief of Government Services of the United Arab Emirates Government, followed by a session titled “The Paradox: Zeroing Digital Bureaucracy” with Leidy Klotz, Professor of Engineering and Architecture, University of Virginia.


Cybersecurity

In a session titled “Red Line: The State of Cybersecurity 2024,” Dr. Mohammed Hamad Al Kuwaiti, Chairman of the Cyber Security Council, discussed the cybersecurity landscape and securing government digital assets and enablers to ensure sustainable development and growth of the digital economy.


Digital Integration

The Digital Integration theme included a session titled “Digital Integration in the UAE” with directors-general from TDRA, Sharjah Digital Department, “Tamm” Platform at the Abu Dhabi Department of Government Enablement, as well as Digital Dubai Authority. The session was moderated by journalist Faisal Bin Huraiz from Sky News Arabia.

This theme concluded with “Digital Packages: Integration for Better Human Life,” with Khalil Ibrahim Khouri, Undersecretary for Human Resources Affairs at the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, Major General Suhail Saeed Al Khaili, Director General of the Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs, and Port Security, and Mohammad Al Zarooni, TDRA Deputy Director General for the Information and Digital Government Sector. The session was moderated by Ammar AlMaeeni of Government Development & The Future Office.

Interactive Digital Labs

The Digital Readiness Retreat included digital labs attended by 120 government digital experts and specialists and led by top government leaders. Mohammed bin Taliah alongside Professor Leidy Klotz organised a lab titled “Zeroing Digital Bureaucracy.” Another lab, “The Future of APIs,” was organised by Mohammad Al Zarooni. Additionally, “One-Time data request for serving people” lab saw the participation of Brigadier Matar Al Saadi, Executive Director of the Corporate Support Sector at the Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs, and Port Security.

Report: The State of Digital Transformation covering 12 government sectors

The retreat saw the launch of the first-ever report on government digital transformation across 12 government sectors in the UAE. The report highlighted digital transformation achievements across federal government entities and key government sectors, including the economy, financial services, human resources, health, education, society, culture & youth, nationality & residency services, and foreign affairs, as well as security, justice, infrastructure, energy, logistics and the environment.

The report highlighted the UAE’s leading position on key global government indicators. The country ranked first globally in human-centric government services, government service index, and government procurement of advanced technology products. It also topped the charts on indicators measuring user engagement in service design and delivery, as well as service experience. The country secured the fourth position on the Government Digital Transformation Maturity Index and the sixth in E-Participation Index. It ranked twelfth on the Digital Competitiveness Index and thirteenth on the E-Government Development Index.

The report unveiled a significant milestone: the digital transformation of government services has reached an impressive 99 percent. This achievement is evidenced by the completion of a total of 36.4 million digital transactions. It also showcased savings achieved by the digital government since the implementation of digital transformation initiatives. The total savings by users amounted to 174.5 billion dirhams, while the government’s total savings reached AED14.9 billion. The government was able to save 115.7 million hours and cut carbon emissions by 9.3 million tons with process digitalization.


Digital Initiatives

During the UAE Government Digital Readiness Retreat, four digital initiatives were inaugurated, including the UAE University’s high-performance computing engine, the first government digital community, the unified design principles for government websites and portals, and the GovTech platform.


High-Performance Computing

The High-Performance Computing platform, launched by the United Arab Emirates University, aims to provide cutting-edge computing infrastructure to support advanced research, artificial intelligence research, space research, quantum computing, data analytics, and computational modeling.


Digital Community

The Digital Community Platform, launched by the Federal Authority for Government Human Resources (FAHR), aims to facilitate exchange of expertise, knowledge, best practices, and professional experiences among federal government employees to enhance future digital readiness of federal human resources.


Unified Design

The Unified Design Principles for government websites, launched by TDRA, provides a system dedicated to developing government websites with efficient design practices focused on user-centricity and meeting personalized requirements. The system sets out standards, principles, and guidelines for creating government websites that facilitate service and information accessibility, while offering a unified theme and structure for all government websites.


GovTech

The GovTech initiative, launched by the Government Development & The Future Office, aims to develop digital solutions that meet the needs of government entities in business development and operations, providing rapid and efficient responses to challenges through collaboration with technology startups and business incubators in the country.


Digital MoUs

The retreat organised signing ceremonies for MoUs regarding government collaboration in digital areas, including agreements between the Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology, the Federal Tax Authority, Al Etihad Credit Bureau, Abu Dhabi Social Support Authority, and Abu Dhabi Global Market. In addition to the MoUs signed between the United Arab Emirates University and Microsoft for the exchange of digital services and initiatives, and between Zayed University and Splunk for sustainable digital academic transformation and cybersecurity.

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