Sheikh Hamdan launches scheme to enable drone transportation and boost competitiveness

Dubai will have designated areas to enable innovators to test prototypes of unmanned aerial vehicles

Government and private sector entities signed a preliminary agreement during the Dubai Airshow 2021 to initiate the operations of the Dubai Programme to Enable Drone Transportation. Courtesy: Dubai Future Foundation
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Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, rolled out a drone programme on Saturday that enables the use of drones in several sectors, including health, security, shipping and food, with the aim of boosting the emirate's global competitiveness

Announcing the news in a tweet, Sheikh Hamdan said the Dubai Programme to Enable Drone Transportation will establish an advanced infrastructure “for creatives to come up with solutions for the world’s transportation challenges”.

“It will also create an advanced infrastructure that enables innovators and relevant entities to test prototypes of unmanned aerial vehicles in designated areas and develop legislation that optimises their implementation,” he said.

The programme seeks to improve people’s lives by reducing carbon emissions generated by traditional shipping and transportation methods and facilitating the movement of goods and materials, a government statement said on Saturday.

The scheme aims to attract talent as well as local and foreign investments to the drone applications sector, in addition to creating new jobs and boosting economic activity.

Dubai announced the first steps towards creating a commercial drone network for the delivery of packages and the transport of passengers in July. An initial framework has been drawn up that includes laws and regulations for the Dubai Sky Dome project.

The new law regulating unmanned aerial vehicles for commercial and government purposes will help attract investment to Dubai’s aviation industry, a government statement said. It will pave the way to attract international drone companies and bring expertise to the city, especially in Dubai South’s aerospace platform, the Mohammed Bin Rashid Aerospace Hub.

“We have the right environment, infrastructure and legislation for the use of drones. We also have the laboratories, expertise and talent to translate prototypes into viable solutions,” Sheikh Hamdan said.

“Our goal is to elevate the quality of life and make clever dreams come true,” he tweeted.

Sheikh Hamdan said the emirate recognised the potential of drones in shaping the future early on, launching the UAE Drones for Good Award in 2014.

A preliminary agreement was signed between government and private sector entities during the Dubai Airshow 2021 to initiate the programme’s operations. The agreement was signed in the presence of Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed, president of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, chairman of Dubai Airports and chairman and chief executive of Emirates airline and group; Omar Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications; and Mattar Al Tayer, director general and chairman of the Roads and Transport Authority.

Signatories to the agreement included the Dubai Future Foundation, DCAA, Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority, Fakeeh University Hospital, Majid Al Futtaim and Emirates SkyCargo, the statement added. Participants will benefit from an enabling legislative framework that facilitates drone technology prototyping, testing, development and implementation.

The DFF will oversee the implementation of the programme’s outputs through Dubai Future Labs, the first applied R&D lab in the region specialising in future technology, the statement added.

“This Act is considered one of the projects of the Dubai Sky Dome Initiative,” Sheikh Ahmed said.This initiative aims to create a virtual airspace infrastructure for drone systems, through which public spaces and buildings will be connected through airstrips and mini-airports throughout Dubai and to develop major infrastructure schemes for airports, airstrips, multi-use stations and ground service sites.”

A unique pilot area will be allocated in Dubai Silicon Oasis for innovators and related entities from the UAE and abroad to develop and test new drone solutions.

The agreement was signed by Mohammed Ahli, chief executive of DCAA; Khalfan Belhoul, chief executive of DFF; Ahmed Bahrozyan, chief executive of the public transport agency at RTA; Muammar Al Katheeri, executive vice president at Engineering and Smart City, DSOA; Alain Bejjani, chief executive of MAF; Nabil Sultan, divisional senior vice president at Emirates SkyCargo; and Ammar Fakeeh, chairman of the board of Fakeeh Care Group, the statement added.

Updated: November 20, 2021, 12:22 PM