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UAE to become a 'technology country'?

Panel discussion at M-Gov conference suggests mobile phones will be used for everything

UAE to become a 'technology country'?

From navigating to a parking space and paying for it, to booking and paying for dinner, everything is expected to be done on a mobile phone in the near future, according to a panel at the M-Gov conference on Monday.

Ahmed Bahrazyan, Licensing Agency CEO from RTA talked about plans announced earlier this month, in which Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) will offer 200 of its services through mobile apps by 2015. The apps will be for motorists, public transport users and for tourists, he said: "We feel that there will be a big challenge for us to go from 30 services today to over 200 services in the next year or two, we have to target these services to the right customer segment...we have to try and work out who are the key customers for the different services making it easier for us to reach those customers and making it easier for the customer to understand the services we are delivering that are relevant to the needs of that customer."

According to Bahrazyan, one of the most popular services is the parking service, with 15% to 20% of people using it via their mobile phone. He said that the current services will continue to improve; for example, additional features will be added to the parking service, including a locations feature that will know where the users have parked.

Dr Saif Al Ketbi, VP of IT at Abu Dhabi Ports Company & Abu Dhabi Airports, spoke of technology he had experienced while visiting Japan in 2006 and again in 2009. Describing Japan as a ‘technology country', he referred to train tickets on mobile phones, and payment transactions all via mobile phones. 

"That's what we want to see, that's what we will see," he said.

Abdel Wahed Bendaoua, head of enterprise, EMEA Emerging Markets at Google, was also on the panel and discussed the collaboration of Google and the UAE Government, on a project that would allow the delivery of more easily accessible and user-friendly websites.

"The government aims to become more productive to collaborate between different entities, which sounds like something very simple, but sometimes the interaction between different entities can be quite complex to get even a document from one entity of the government," Bendaoua said. "Getting these things integrated is what at the end of the day helps the city."  

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