Di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion paves new ICT in­vest­ments in UAE

The Pak Banker - - 6BUSINESS -

ICT in­vest­ments by busi­nesses in the UAE are be­ing stim­u­lated by the eco­nomic di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion mea­sures that have been un­der­taken by the govern­ment in re­cent times. On­go­ing an­nounce­ments re­lat­ing to new megapro­jects, smart cities, and in­fra­struc­ture projects for global events such as Dubai Expo 2020 are the pri­mary driv­ers for the fresh round of ICT in­vest­ments we are see­ing, with mo­bil­ity, cloud com­put­ing, big data/an­a­lyt­ics, and so­cial me­dia tech­nolo­gies prov­ing par­tic­u­larly pop­u­lar.

With ref­er­ence to mo­bil­ity, wire­less lo­cal area net­work (WLAN) tech­nol­ogy is emerg­ing as one of the most at­trac­tive means of wire­less broad­band con­nec­tiv­ity for cus­tomers and em­ploy­ees alike. This trend is be­com­ing more sig­nif­i­cant by the day, par­tic­u­larly for retail shops, ho­tels, restau­rants, health­care in­sti­tu­tions, of­fices, pub­lic places, and schools and with the grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity of en­ter­prise mo­bil­ity con­cepts.

In­ter­est­ingly, small and medium busi­nesses (SMBs) in the UAE have also be­gun view­ing WLAN as a way of creat- ing com­pet­i­tive dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion for them­selves.

The govern­ment's eco­nomic di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion mea­sures are paving the way for new in­vest­ments in a va­ri­ety of green­field in­fra­struc­ture projects. Th­ese projects, in turn, are ex­pected to drive the growth of the retail and hos­pi­tal­ity sec­tors in the UAE. Some of the most no­table projects are iden­ti­fied: The 'Mall of the World' in­cludes eight mil­lion square feet of mall space and 100 ho­tels. The 'Dubai Mey­dan One' pro­ject, which spreads across 47 mil­lion square feet of space, in­cludes a large mall, 100 ho­tels, 300 restau­rants, cafes, and kiosks. ' Deira Is­lands' in­cludes 1,400 retail units, ho­tels, restau­rants, and beach re­sorts. An­other pro­ject 'Blue­wa­ters Is­land' is be­ing de­vel­oped along sim­i­lar lines and will in­clude ded­i­cated retail space. 'Dubai Creek Har­bor' in­cludes 8 mil­lion square feet of retail space and 22 ho­tels. 'Al Mamzar Beach­front' in­cludes 2.7 mil­lion square feet of retail space and 300 ho­tels.

On­go­ing ex­pan­sion projects at Mall of the Emi­rates, Dragon Mart, and Ibn Bat­tuta Mall are also ex­pected to add sig- nif­i­cant floor space in the years to come. Sim­i­lar growth trends are ex­pected in the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try, with ho­tel room ca­pac­ity ex­pected to grow at a com­pound an­nual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.3 per cent dur­ing 2012 -2016 to reach 125,383 rooms by the end of that pe­riod (as per Alpen Cap­i­tal). Th­ese de­vel­op­ments are sure to add sig­nif­i­cant retail floor space and ho­tel room ca­pac­ity by the time Dubai Expo 2020 com­mences.

In the education sec­tor, Dubai alone is plan­ning to add 80 new pri­vate schools, with Abu Dhabi ex­pected to add equal num­bers by 2020. In the health­care sec­tor, the UAE govern­ment is in­vest­ing heav­ily in the de­vel­op­ment of new hospi­tals and med­i­cal cen­tres. For ex­am­ple, Dubai is cur­rently build­ing three new ma­jor hospi­tals, 40 health­care cen­ters, and six spe­cialised cen­ters. Sim­i­lar pub­lic and pri­vate in­vest­ment in other emi­rates is ex­pected to sig­nif­i­cantly add to the coun­try's hos­pi­tal ca­pac­ity. Con­se­quently, the retail, hos­pi­tal­ity, and health­care sec­tors are ex­pected to of­fer sig­nif­i­cant growth op­por­tu­ni­ties for WiFi ser­vices in the years to come.

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