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Jibrel & the UAE Blockchain Strategy 2021

For decades, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been synonymous with oil and luxury tourism. Yet in the next 10 years, the UAE may surpass the technological prominence of Silicon Valley. In the Middle East, Dubai already has a long tradition of leading digital innovation. Now, for the first time, Dubai will be pioneering the application of blockchain technology in an effort to make it the first blockchain powered government in the world. This vision of becoming one of the world’s first “smart cities” has led to some of the biggest innovations in UAE’s history that Jibrel has been lucky to be a part of.

50% of Government Transactions on the Blockchain by 2021

In April 2018, the UAE Government launched the Emirates Blockchain Strategy 2021. Initiated by Sheikh Hamdan, it is the result of the collaboration between the Smart Dubai Office and the Dubai Future Foundation. The strategy aims to put over 50% of government transactions onto the blockchain by 2021.

The UAE’s strategy for blockchain focuses on four key themes; happiness of citizens and residents, elevating government efficiency, advanced legislation and international leadership.

The Dubai Blockchain strategy will usher in economic opportunity for all sectors of the city and cement Dubai’s reputation as a global technology leader. Through blockchain, the UAE government expects to save:

  • $3 billion in transactions and documents processed routinely
  • $108 million in printed documents annually
  • 77 million annual work hours

The efficient and immutable nature of blockchain technology is expected to make things more secure, reduce operational cost and accelerate decision-making.

Large Investment into Startups of the Future

Fintech startups are expected to attract $2 billion in investments over the next decade, which is almost 20x of private funding investments in such startups over the past 10 years. The amount of fintech companies is also expected to rise by more than 50% from 130 to 260. The approximate size of the wealth and asset management industry of Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC) is now $424 billion. To put this in context, that is equivalent to roughly 30% of the combined GDP of all Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.

The GCC is a political and economic alliance of six Middle Eastern countries — Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman. The DIFC has also launched a $100 million Fintech Fund in 2017 followed by a $10 million fund earlier this year, which aim to accelerate the development of financial technology in the Middle East and North Africa. They do so by investing in startups from incubation all the way through to the growth stage. Other countries are paying attention as well. Japan’s SoftBank Group has provided nearly half the capital for Abu Dhabi’s state investor Mubadala Investment Co’s new $400 million fund investing in European start-ups. The fund will help Mubadala to invest between $5 million and $30 million in individual start-ups.

US Tech Giants Are Coming In

The ride sharing behemoth, Uber, has recently acquired its biggest regional rival, Careem, for $3.1billion. This marks the highest-valued tech deal to ever take place in the region.

Careem has over 30 million users, over one million drivers and operates in 90 cities across 15 countries. It has also branched out into food and package deliveries, bus services, scheduled rides and credit transfers — in several instances launching services ahead of Uber. The acquisition will come as a welcome boost for the Middle East’s nascent technology startup market and follows Amazon.com’s acquisition of Dubai-based online retailer Souq.com for $580 million in 2017. With the UAE seeking to diversify their oil-based economies, young and tech-savvy entrepreneurs are starting new businesses and getting investors to back them.

Jibrel in the UAE

Jibrel took part in the 2018 DIFC FinTech Hive accelerator program. The 12-week program is designed to help early and growth-stage firms accelerate product and business development by gaining exposure to top financial institution executives. This was supplemented by the acceptance into the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA)’s Innovation Testing License program (ITL) cohort. Jibrel is also part of the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) RegLab, where Jibrel and Al Hilal Bank executed the world’s first Shariah complaint Sukuk transactions based on distributed ledger technology (DLT). As the cryptocurrency market recovers and the exuberance of 2017 is replaced by true innovation, it is clear that Dubai is primed to take the lead.

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Jibrel provides tokenized financial assets such as equities, currencies, commodities and bonds, on the Ethereum blockchain. https://jibrel.network