Diversification paves new ICT investments in UAE
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.