Dubai Has Found Its New ‘Oil’, This time It’s In Sky

Dubai, a city of skyscrapers, has penchant for big things. But technology has never been a forte for this shopaholic nation. All this is set to change as the country is planning to become the smartest city by 2017—and drones are the most important component of this mission.

Image: Drones on skyscrapers
Image: Drones on skyscrapers

It’s fast becoming a hub for the drone related business. The city is already buzzing with teeming drones all around the sky. Unlike U.S where drone and robotics competitions take place in the college campuses; the showground in Dubai is often sky. UAE is ready to invest billions of dollars in drone industry as it’s oil and gas is running dry.

Drone mania in Dubai

Once you spend a few days in Dubai, you will soon sense the fear lurking in the mind of common people about the life after oil. Behind the extravagant and impressive architecture, the uncertainty about the future looms large in the air. Modern Dubai is constantly looking for big things—and it’s betting heavily on drones.

“Over the next five to six years, Dubai is probably going to be the central hub for drones worldwide and the main reason for that is Dubai, as you obviously know, it’s a transportation hub,” told Naim to Gulf News.

Drones for good

This is the name of the competition taking place in the Dubai Internet City, which has offices of Microsoft, Nokia, Sun, and many other Fortune 500 companies. A Swiss company has won the $1 Million competition.

As this city state is gearing itself for a transition to post-oil and post property economy, it’s ready to invest heavily in robotics and automation to cut the labor cost. It also helps them manage the security of the city more efficiently.

The UAE government has identified drones as a technology to assist with law enforcement and service delivery,

Is Uncle SAM behind the drone surge?

The booming prospect of increasing drone market in Dubai and UAE has started luring the US drone manufacturers. The lobbying for easing pressure on drone or unmanned aerial vehicles exports have intensified in the U.S.A. Their argument is simple: if they don’t act fast Israeli companies will soon capture this booming drone market.

The intensive lobbying has also started showing result. Government has eased sanctions on drones export. In 2013, General Atomics won a $200 million contract the United Arab Emirates to sell predatory drones. The company is also supplying drones in Saudi Arabia and a few other gulf countries.

Lockheed Martin (LMT.N) is also aggressively going for joint ventures in this area. Middle-East is the biggest drone market in the world right now which offers a big prospect for American companies.

Amidst instability in the region, countries are also investing in the drone purchase in a big way. Of late, The U.A.E. has given a go-ahead to buy drones worth $200 Million.

UAE government is also placing a lot of emphasis on the drone industry. It is trying to put policy to regulate the boom, as it poses new security related challenges. It would interesting to watch how Dubai makes a transition from oil-led economy to drone-led economy.

VIKASH KUMAR

Chief Content Strategist

An active journalist and blogger with more than a decade of experience. He has worked with various national and international publications. Sharing behind the curtain news is his passion.

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