Staying Ahead: Dubai launches Blockchain Business Registry

By Eudore R. Chand

DUBAI 3 May 2018: The Department of Economic Development (DED) in Dubai and Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority (DSOA) have unveiled a joint blockchain project that was developed in collaboration with Smart Dubai and IBM to improve ease of doing business in Dubai and facilitate foreign direct investments.

The joint initiative, called Dubai Blockchain Business Registry Project, is aligned with the Dubai Blockchain Strategy, launched in 2016 by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council of Dubai, seeking to establish Dubai as the first city to be fully powered by blockchain by 2020.

The initiative seeks to empower the Unified Commercial Registry (UCR) project, the first blockchain-enabled trade license repository launched by DED, to store and update company registration information issued by DED as well as the free zone authorities in Dubai.

The Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority, which is the regulatory body for Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSO), the integrated free zone technology park, will be the first free zone to implement the pilot project.

Regulatory Compliance

Aspiring to create an efficient, seamless, and impactful experience, the collaborative effort will streamline the process of setting up and operating a business, roll out digital exchange of trade licenses and related documentation for all business activities, and ensure regulatory compliance across Dubai’s business ecosystem. While DSO is the first free zone to share license information over blockchain, other entities will be able to query and publish data as required.

“The Unified Commercial Registry is a foundation for the business ledger, led by the Department of Economic Development to usher in the future of business in Dubai, UAE and the world. With the Blockchain Corporate Registry, investment as well as doing business in Dubai will become a seamless and smart experience, and testimony to successful innovation,” Sami Al Qamzi, Director General of DED, said.

“The Blockchain Corporate Registry provides a template for collaboration between government departments, government-related entities and the private sector to reinforce Dubai as a hub for business expansion and entrepreneurship. We are delighted to welcome the Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority on board as the first free zone entity to integrate DED’s business ledger. DED always seeks to integrate the latest technologies for added competitiveness and customer happiness across services in Dubai,” added Al Qamzi.

Digital Economy

Speaking on the initiative, Dr Mohammed Al Zarooni, Vice Chairman and CEO of DSOA, said: “As the UAE continues its transition to a digital economy, DSOA takes pride to become the first free zone to implement this blockchain project. This achievement is the result of our relentless efforts to build synergies that leverage the strengths of diverse public and private sector partners to fast-track Dubai’s journey to becoming one of the smartest cities in the world. The Dubai Blockchain Corporate Registry Project is a prime example of such collaboration at work.”

Dr. Aisha Bin BIshr, Director General, Smart Dubai, said: “Having 100% of all applicable Dubai government transactions run on Blockchain is the first pillar of the Dubai Blockchain Strategy, and ongoing collaboration with government and private sector entities is crucial to our success. The launch of the Commercial Registry Project is testament to our drive towards making Dubai run on Blockchain by 2020. We are working on over 20 more use cases with several entities across the city, and hope to launch these later this year.”

Amr Refaat, General Manager, IBM Middle East said: “IBM is proud to collaborate with DED, Smart Dubai Office and Dubai Silicon Oasis on this journey to revolutionize the business ecosystem in the UAE. Dubai is a leader in innovation with many ambitious projects that have already become a reality. With the first phase of this project already in place to form the first active Blockchain commerce registry network, there is keen interest from other public and private entities to join the network.

Enabling Foundation

“We see blockchain as an enabling foundation for providing seamless digital experiences to existing businesses and new investors and entrepreneurs. This initiative will enhance collaboration and efficiency among government entities and provide transparency, security and visibility in government transactions.”

The IT Department in DED conducted extensive research and case studies with vendors to explore the best alternatives and options that help secure information, support open data and enable paperless processes in preparation for the Dubai Blockchain Corporate Registry.

Mohamed Alqaizi, IT Director in DED, said: “The Blockchain initiative is a result of intensive research conducted by our IT team in collaboration with DSOA, IBM and the Smart Dubai office. We studied multiple options, case studies and researches aiming to achieve the best results in facilitating business registration in Dubai. The results are promising; we built the foundation for a first-of-its-kind unified business ledger where any entity locally and globally can join, and be part of Dubai’s vision to be the Blockchain capital of the world as part of the Dubai Blockchain strategy 2016.”