We attended one of the Middle East’s biggest tech and innovation shows – GITEX Technology Week – in Dubai, UAE on 10 Oct 2017 at the invitation of the Dubai Road and Transport Authority (RTA). It was an incredible feast for the mind, with inventions you only expect to see in science fiction on display and plenty of new ideas being shared by an international array of entrepreneurs.
Almost 150,000 attendees flew in from 97 countries around the globe to experience this one-of-a-kind event. If you weren’t able to make it to GITEX, here’s a quick round-up of what we saw and did.
GITEX may be 37 years old this year, but the inventions on display were truly the technology of tomorrow. If you’re the sort that is inspired by innovation, the exhibits would have fired up your imagination – we saw drones, autonomous vehicles, flying taxis, advanced virtual reality (VR) headsets and robotics. The applications for these solutions was wide and varied from healthcare to education to manufacturing.
The theme was ‘Re-Imagining Realities’, and ‘discover’, ‘transform’ and ‘innovate’ were the hot buzzwords in many conversations and speeches. The innovations for Smart Cities were particularly interesting. Aerial taxis were on the agenda for the Dubai RTA as a new mode of public transport and autonomous vehicles received a lot of attention too, with the Dubai Autonomous Transportation Strategy aiming to make a quarter of the city’s transport autonomous by 2030.
Road congestion has become a real challenge and encouraging commuters to exchange private cars for public transport is a difficult task. Passengers are always keen to reduce their travel time and don’t want to put up with uncomfortable or inefficient journeys, and for now public transport is still not perceived as the best way to accomplish this.
State-of-the-art technology is seen to be the answer to changing people’s mindset, though the exact solution has not been prescribed. Dubai, a city that has reinvented itself from a small fishing port into a sky-scraping metropolis, welcomes all new modes of transport, new smartphone apps and new ideas to solve the congestion issue.
While new players with innovative, disruptive concepts such as Uber and Careem have succeeded in establishing themselves as alternatives to traditional modes of transport, they are not providing a full solution to congestion.
The RTA has highlighted that they see autonomous flying taxis and carpooling as potential options for alleviating crowded roads. We are also working with the RTA to improve the taxi system with new features to enhance efficiency and the customer experience. Trapeze’s taxi system is integrated with the RTA’s Smart Drive, providing real-time traffic information data and helping them identify congestion throughout the city of Dubai.
The entire Trapeze team had a great time at GITEX and we definitely recommend anyone interested in using technology to modernise or revolutionise their business attend the next technology week in 2018. Even if you aren’t involved in public transport operations, there were so many other streams on Smart Cities, public sector, marketing and the like that you are sure to find something interesting and educational at the show.
On a personal note, I was pleased to have the opportunity to work alongside Tariq Ismail, Adel Mohammed Shakeri and Ganesh Gupta from the Dubai RTA at their stand, and also catch up with Abu Dhabi Department of Transport’s Mohamed Salim Al Naqbi and Farooq Mukhtar from the emirate of Ajman. I look forward to returning to GITEX next year.