Blue Ocean for Cryptocurrencies: Middle East

MENA Region is of over 440 million people, 18 countries and over 58 languages. The Region has had and still has an impressive economic growth globally, and is home to the largest oil-producing nations in the world, a booming agricultural home, commercial energy, tourists destination, growing global market hub spreading around in the middle east.

Blockchain has likely been the single most trending word in recent years, creating an unprecedented buzz over the world. Today the technology is making waves in all sectors of the economy, attracting huge amount of investments from both governments and private sector players.

Any service which requires a method to systematically record an event could potentially utilise blockchain. According to IDC, spending on Blockchain in MENA Region will more than double in 2018 to $80.8 million, up from $38.9 million in 2017. MENA region has been building momentum with various initiatives, springing up across the GCC in particular, to use blockchain across multiple industries, especially within governments.

Dubai has been taking a lead setting up The Global Blockchain Council in 2016 with the efforts of the Dubai Future Foundation. This government initiative brings together the public and private sectors to identify test cases for new blockchain business models and has led to a huge swell of investment in the blockchain domain. Similarly, Dubai’s smart government initiative aims to record all government transactions on the blockchain, an initiative that could amount to savings of over $1.5 billion in document processing and more than 25 million hours in lost productivity.

Many organisations in the MENA region have already made bold commitments. For example, the Smart Dubai Office has announced plans to make Dubai the first blockchain-powered government in the world by 2020 and has launched ‘Dubai Now’, a single platform for accessing more than 50 smart services from the government and private sectors. For mobile operators, blockchain could potentially optimise the recording of billing and roaming data, money transfers, service provisioning, authentication, identity management and more. In this extremely exciting unity, high profile speakers will share their vision and outline why they are backing blockchain in the MENA region.

In line with this strategy, Future Blockchain Summit was officially hosted by Smart Dubai Office, the entity recognized as the global first-mover in blockchain adoption, in partnership with Dubai World Trade Centre.The summit brought together over 7,000 industry and technology leaders from across the globe, showcasing pilot projects and innovations from over 60 government and private organizations. In more than 70 engaging sessions, 60+ speakers deep dived into real-world applications across a range of sectors such as retail and e-commerce, creative economy, healthcare, transportation, education, food, hospitality and tourism, energy, fintech and banking as well as safety and security.

Dubai’s ambition to harness blockchain has reinforced the ambition of the wider GCC to take similar steps, with countries such as KSA, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain all following a similar footing; investing in innovation centers for both public and private sectors, and a number of high profile blockchain proof of concepts are now under way. Corporations and governments further afield such as Egypt are also making bold moves.

Various sectors can benefit from blockchain. Still with its roots in the financial services sector, there has been a dramatic shift in blockchain use across a variety of sectors in MENA. The Internet of Things is one of these sectors. Blockchain provides a foundation for this by cost effective and time efficient means of devices communicating together. And the other sectors including energy, transport and utilities. Another industry that can utilize blockchain is healthcare, especially in the medical tourism industry. Patients that travel across borders to have procedures done do not have a legitimate way to share medical information with their family doctor. Blockchain could help standardize this procedure so that patients’ home doctors know how to more effectively continue care. Other sectors such as real estate are actively testing smart contracts as a mechanism to register land deeds on the blockchain.

The vision of MENA Region is clear; to build MENA as the Blockchain capital of the world. This is a commendable vision which confirms just how serious MENA Region is when it comes to Blockchain based implementations. As a result, MENA Region is the right direction for ICO companies to present their projects and match with the right audience according to direction of MENA Region.