Smart Dubai rolls out data initiative to strengthen emirate's retail sector

Wholesale and retail sector is among the biggest contributors to Dubai's economy

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES. 02 MAY 2018. Future Blockchain Summit held at the Trade Center. H.E. Dr. Aisha Bint Butti Bin Bishr, Director General - Smart Dubai Office. (Photo: Antonie Robertson/The National) Journalist: Sarmad Khan. Section: Business.
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Smart Dubai, the government body charged with driving Dubai’s citywide smart transformation, and the Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED) rolled out a data initiative to predict trends that can help strengthen the emirate's retail sector.

“Data is the foundation of smart cities; we’ve said this before on numerous occasions, and we reiterate it as we …. drive its [Dubai’s]  plans to become the smartest and happiest city in the world,” said Aisha Bint Butti Bin Bishr, director general, Smart Dubai. “Our goal is to enable the seamless exchange and use of data to establish a robust data ecosystem and create economic and social value.”

The joint initiative will provide insights into citywide retail data for informed economic policy decision-making, the two entities said in a joint statement on Monday. The move is part of the Private Sector Data Engagement Strategy of the government, which is designed to increase collaboration between the public and private sectors on data.

The new initiative will see anonymised and aggregated datasets examined to understand catchment area - the zone surrounding retailers or malls from which they can draw customers - visitor flow, and spending trends in one of Dubai’s largest malls.

Apart from the DED, or Dubai Economy as the department is also known, Smart Dubai is joining hands with Majid Al Futtaim (MAF), one of the biggest retail and leisure conglomerates in the region, and UAE-based telecoms operator du.

Smart Dubai has an existing preliminary agreement with MAF to enhance data and analytics capabilities.

The retail sector is one of the most important contributors to the gross domestic product of Dubai, the commercial and business hub of the Middle East. Wholesale and retail sector was by far the emirate’s largest sector in 2018, according to figures by the Dubai Statistics Centre. It accounted for 26.4 per cent of Dubai GDP – more than double the contribution of the second sector in line, transportation and storage, which accounted for just 12.3 per cent. Wholesale and retail grew 3.3 per cent in the first half of 2019.

“Our focus on the retail sector stems from the immense contribution it makes to Dubai’s economy,” Smart Dubai director general added.

Though the retail sector faces competition from online portals such as Amazon and Noon government, fiscal support programmes, initiatives that facilitate business and the emirate’s efforts to increase the number of visitors, are helping boost growth.

“For Dubai, it is very important to understand the changes in performance of the emirate’s main sectors and analyse the performance of each sector with public and private stakeholders, in order to consistently improve the environment for doing business in the city,” Sami Al Qamzi, director General of Dubai Economy, said. “We assure the private sector that the government will share more economic data sets with them to help them to improve their business plans,” he added.