Investments in key information and communications technology verticals are expected to play a crucial role in driving the UAE’s sustainability goals as it gears up for the economy of the future, the chief executive of Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company has said.
Four growing technologies – the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data analytics – are pegged to enhance operational efficiency and productivity across various sectors, Fahad Al Hassawi told The National on the sidelines of the Envision conference in Dubai.
Envision, hosted by EITC, known as du, was held in coordination with the International Data Corporation and the UAE Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology.
Implementing these technologies in key sectors – which include manufacturing, agriculture, and smart cities, among others – will help them boost efficiency, he said.
"ICT plays a crucial role in driving sustainability by enabling innovations in various sectors ... it is a cornerstone in the UAE's drive towards sustainability, with innovations spanning various sectors," Mr Al Hassawi said.
"Real-time data collection and analysis will revolutionise decision-making processes and drive innovation to new heights."
In addition, investments focused on digitalisation to implement automation, robotics, machine learning and digital twins in industries will help lead efforts to drive sustainability through less carbon emissions, he said.
"Data-driven approaches for waste management and water conservation will reduce costs annually while positively impacting the nation's gross domestic product."
The UAE is investing heavily in its technological capabilities and rolling out several initiatives as it prepares for the economy of the future.
ICT spending in the UAE is expected to hit $23 billion in 2024, marking a compound annual growth rate of 8 per cent from 2019, latest data from the Ministry of Economy shows.
AI alone is expected to contribute around $96 billion by 2030, equivalent to about 14 per cent of GDP, it said.
Globally, ICT spending is projected to hit $5.8 trillion in 2023, a 6.4 per cent annual growth over 2022, data from Statista shows.
Advanced technologies are also a key pillar to support the UAE's Net Zero 2050 Strategic Initiative, which calls for Dh600 billion ($163 billion) to be invested in clean and renewable energy sources in the next three decades.
"ICT solutions are not only driving economic growth but also contributing to sustainability goals," Mr Al Hassawi said.
Smart cities, which several countries are pushing to develop and implement, encapsulate the importance of advanced technologies.
In the UAE, these are "being crafted" with a focus on optimising energy consumption, transportation systems and public services, Mr Al Hassawi said.
The value of the global smart city market is projected to surge more than two and a half times to $1.52 trillion by 2030, from an estimated $594.4 billion this year, data from Research and Markets shows.
"Harnessing the benefits of technology in urban environments has led the UAE to be at the forefront of pioneering the convergence of technology and sustainability in urban development," he said.
The UAE continues to expand its manufacturing and industry sectors, with a focus on technology and sustainability.
Its Industry 4.0 initiative, announced in October 2021, was designed to help the UAE realise its economic potential by increasing the use of deep learning, machine learning, AI, additive manufacturing and the Internet of Things, into the value and supply chains that support the industrial sector.
The UAE which is hosting the Cop28 climate conference in November, is also adopting other sustainability initiatives, like the waste-to-energy projects in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah.
These projects are estimated to power hundreds of thousands of homes when fully complete.
"These advancements, combined with a commitment to reducing carbon emissions, underscore the UAE's vision of a sustainable future for its residents," Mr Al Hassawi said.
In agricultural technology, innovations such as precision farming, hydroponics, IoT and data analytics are enhancing crop productivity and water conservation.
A standout application is vertical farming, with approximately 36 per cent of the UAE's AgriTech market dedicated to this indoor farming subsector, latest data from the Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park showed.
"This approach is reducing the UAE's reliance on food imports, bolstering the employment market and ensuring food security," Mr Al Hassawi said.