Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, has launched an initiative with his wife Princess Haya bint Al Hussein to create a “virtual internet country”. Named “Dubai Future Accelerators”, the project is intended to bring together leading technology companies from around the world to develop solutions in fields including water management, pollution, and transportation. Up to $5m has been pledged to support the initiative. Particular emphasis will be placed on developing technologies in the areas of water conservation, balancing population growth and urban planning, and improving energy efficiency. Entrants will have the opportunity to work with government organisations and private companies in Dubai. Applications for the scheme will open on 15 May, with the programme running from September to December. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has also announced plans to create a “museum of the future” in Dubai by 2018.
The UAE has previously undertaken initiatives to develop its economy in directions beyond its dependency on its substantial oil reserves. Dubai, in particular, has sought to establish itself as a hub for technological innovation. In April, for example, the UAE announced initiatives to develop autonomous transport systems and “smart” airports. The country has also invested in renewable energy with a target of 24% of its energy coming from renewable sources by 2021.
Dubai is beginning to emerge as a leader in addressing wider environmental challenges. The city recently became a hub for clean energy investment in the MENA region, while at government-level, the UAE has initiated a range of programmes to support the transition to cleaner, more sustainable forms of energy. These have included efforts to increase investment in climate-friendly projects by working with organisations including the International Renewable Energy Agency (IREA) and the UN.
Princess Haya has been a prominent leader in environmental initiatives. She has served as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations World Food Programme and has also worked in the field of carbon credits.