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Leading government and subject matter experts gathered in Dubai on Oct. 8 to address prescient regional issues on digital transformation at Huawei’s second annual Middle East Innovation Day. Held concurrently to the opening day of GITEX 2017, the leading global ICT solutions provider’s Middle East edition of the global event was themed “Exploration, Lights the Way Forward”, and hosted a high-profile panel of international and regional government and industry representatives.
Keynote speakers for the event were Ugo Valenti, CEO of Smart City Expo World Congress, HE Dr. Mohammed A. Al Amer, Chairman of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority Bahrain, Edward Zhou, Vice President of Global Affairs, Huawei Technologies, and Spacelee /Li Xiangyu, Vice President of Public Affairs and Communications, Huawei Middle East.
Dr. Al Amer addressed the duty of governments in the region to work to create an environment that enables the digital economy to grow and flourish, identifying the need to foster digital education, enact the proper regulatory framework, and in unifying the concepts of IT and ICT. Other keynotes explored themes such as the importance of the rise in urbanization to the digital project, the importance of industrial digitization and open collaboration, and the state of digital development in the GCC.
A key highlight of the event was the launch of an insightful new research report titled, “National Transformation in the Middle East – A Digital Journey.” The joint Huawei-Deloitte white paper assesses the digital transformation initiatives being undertaken by government entities in the GCC region in the context of global trends.
The panel discussion, entitled “ICT Innovation Drives the Middle East region Future” included Jawad Jalal Abbassi, Head of MENA Government and Regulatory Affairs, GSMA; David Garcia-Torre, Director of IoT, Etisalat; Engineer Ahmed Kajoor, IT Director Dubai Municipality; Lloyd Gazzett, Vice President – Business Technology Customer Success, Dubai Airports; Mr. Valenti of Smart City Expo World Congress; and Alaa ElShimi, Managing Director and Vice President, Huawei Middle East. The discussion was moderated by Joe Kelly, Vice President of International Media Affairs for Huawei. Their discussion focused on role of ICT innovations in supporting the development of key sectors and industries, openness and perseverance in driving digital transformation and building sustainable knowledge-based economies in the region. The panel also addressed some of the continued challenges and best practices from across the world to address them.
The panelists explored a variety of topics such the necessity to keep pace with technological innovation, how to integrate ICT further into pedagogical practices, and the need to integrate data sharing techniques across sectors and industries. They discussed the technological as well as regulatory challenges, identifying solutions and expressing an exciting and hopeful vision for the future of digital transformation in the region.
“The 21st Century is fast becoming the century of cities. The growing universality of the cloud, AI and blockchain are nothing short of a revolution in the way we live. This transformation is allowing us to build smart cities, but to truly reach our potential we have to empower cities to be as sustainable, mobile, safe and healthy as possible,” said Ugo Valenti of Smart City Expo World Congress.
“Mobile is already playing a significant role in driving efficiencies, productivity and economic growth across the Middle East and North Africa region, contributing to employment as well as innovation,” commented Jawad Abbassi, Head of MENA, GSMA. “However, it is crucial that governments put the right regulatory frameworks in place to encourage competition, investment and innovation so that everyone can benefit from the digital age.”
“ICT innovation is at the heart of Dubai Municipality’s mission to build the most advanced, sustainable city in the world. Developing a smart, integrated IT infrastructure depends on experimentation and exploration, which in turn depends on building effective partnerships,” said Ahmed Kajoor, IT Director at Dubai Municipality. “Our pioneer-ship benefits from the excellent work being done by partners like Huawei and Deloitte, with their work contributing to our understanding of how best to continue building Dubai as a safe, happy, sustainable and competitive city of the future. Both Dubai Municipality and the Dubai government writ large will benefit from the excellent work being done.”
“It has been fantastic to gather such a diverse and knowledgeable group of experts and leaders to discuss the key issues and challenges of digital transformation in the region. The Middle East is a historic center of exploration and innovation, and we are incredibly excited to leverage this heritage and tackle the challenges faced in order to realize the full spectrum of digital realities here,” said Spacelee /Li Xiangyu of Huawei Middle East. “Huawei remains committed to driving the digital ecosystems, and to continue to push for active and open collaboration with local partners in order to serve the region’s national visions and deliver on the promise of digital transformation.”
Huawei ME Innovation Day is part of a global initiative to address pioneering issues in the world of ICT. The Middle East version continues to be an industry communications platform, accelerate the digitization process and position the Middle East as leading hub of global exploration.