DSOA explores investment opportunities in Egypt’s smart cities, mainly NAC

Badway Shalaby
16 Min Read

Dubai Silicon Oasis is a free zone and an integrated technology park. It offers state-of-the-art infrastructure and in-house business services. The Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority (DSOA) now explores investment opportunities in Egypt’s new smart cities, especially the New Administrative Capital (NAC). The DSOA also seeks to increase Egyptian-Emirati cooperation in the field of technology through exchanging experiences.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Sherif Kamel, executive vice president – commercial at DSOA, to learn more about the authority’s plans and strategy.

Do you plan to invest in Egypt?

The DSOA studies investment opportunities in the NAC and other smart cities launched by the Egyptian government, as we seek to establish strategic partnerships with the government in the coming period. 

It comes in light of the Egyptian government’s recent interest of using cutting-edge technology in infrastructure. Therefore, the domestic market has become attractive for foreign investments in all technological sectors.

Do you plan to cooperate with the Egyptian government in the field of entrepreneurship?

The next period will see a development in Egyptian-UAE cooperation to support entrepreneurs through exchange of experiences. The DSOA is keen on sharing its expertise in the field of entrepreneurs and emerging companies with Egypt.

Can you tell us about the Dubai Digital Park?

The Dubai Digital Park is a smart city developed by the DSOA to host those interested in technology. So far, the investments of the project reached $408m.

The project’s construction was completed in 2019. It offers 71,000 square meters (sqm) of administrative space, 25,000 sqm of shops, 46,000 sqm of residential apartments and the Radisson Reed Hotel with 112 hotel rooms, and 59 fully furnished apartments.

The project includes service areas such as restaurants, cafes, health and fitness centres, jogging and cycling trails, prayer rooms, a shopping centre, and underground car garages with a capacity of more than 2,500 cars.

Have you started the marketing of the project?

Yes, the DSOA has marketed the project and many companies and enterprises showed great interest to invest there.

What are the new services that the DSOA will offer in 2020?

Al Faqih University Hospital will be operated in the Dubai Digital Park in the second quarter of 2020 and will be run by Saudi Arabia’s Dr. Soliman Fakeeh Hospital, one of the most prominent health care facilities in the Saudi kingdom. The new hospital will be built on an area of 150,000 sqm with AED 1bn investments.

The 300-bed hospital will offer world-class medical services. It will also provide 4,000 new jobs.

What are the DSOA’s plan to attract investors, international companies, and business leaders to invest in the technology sector?

We aim to encourage global companies, start-ups, and entrepreneurs in the technology sector to establish their businesses in the integrated technological free zone through pilot projects. We offer 60 smart services with investments of over $27m through a unified and secure platform that combines the operational requirements of the facilities with the needs of both occupants and users. We will be offering also residential and commercial projects of all types.

Dubai Silicon Oasis plans to attract companies that seek to establish their business in the region to benefit from the options of the administrative HQs that include eight buildings of various spaces, in addition to eight commercial buildings ranging between 50-10,000 sqm to be launched in the leasing system. Dubai Digital Park is considered an integrated community that includes residential buildings of up to 235 flats equipped with modern technologies.

How do you see the future of technology sector in the region?

I expect a prosperous future for the region in the technology sector with the flexibility, variety, and continuous innovation as well as sustainable plans and growth which the Dubai Silicon Oasis provides.

Did you contact any technology companies to establish their HQs in the Dubai Silicon Oasis?

The DSOA communicates with international technology companies that seek to establish their business and regional headquarters in the region from Dubai, in addition to providing an opportunity to introduce them to the promising opportunities provided by the region in the field of digital economy in a manner that ensures attracting more foreign direct investment in this vital sector.

How do you see the growth of investment between Egypt and the UAE?

The UAE is one of the largest investors in the Egyptian market with investments exceeding $7bn. The UAE ranks first in the Arab world and the third in the world in terms of pumping investments into the Egyptian economy, amid expectations that it will rise to $14bn by 2024.

Trade relations between the two countries have witnessed a remarkable development during the past years, with the non-oil trade exchange increasing 14.6% in 2018 to $5.5bn.

What is the role of the Dubai Silicon Oasis in promoting industrialisation and development of data technology?

The strategic role of the Dubai Silicon Oasis is attracting emerging companies and projects that provide technology-based services and goods either through manufacturing or assembling, alongside training, research and development, data storage centres, small and medium-sized enterprises, and large companies interested in the technology sector in the Middle East.

The Dubai Digital Park is the first integrated smart city in Dubai that sets a new global standard for smart technology solutions and keeps pace with the Emirati strategy for the fourth industrial revolution with the aim of enhancing the position of the UAE as a global centre for the industrial revolution. It contributes to achieving an economy based on knowledge, innovation, and future applications.

What are the online platforms launched recently by the Dubai Silicon Oasis?

We have launched the Hadi instant messaging platform, which relies on artificial intelligence to respond to customer inquiries regarding the services provided by the authority. The platform will be available to customers on its website and a number of smart applications.

The platform is supported by the feature of machine learning and artificial intelligence to simulate the user experience and the platform provides 146 different services for customers such as ID card renewal and messaging services and electronic wallet recharging. The platform handles transactions and limits dependence on any external links or systems when providing services. Hadi works to benefit from knowledge services to analyze customer inquiries, complaints, and support requests, in addition to setting its priorities based on the content.

The service will be continuously developed to reflect accurate and updated information on various services provided by the Dubai Silicon Oasis for companies and community.

In the second stage, the platform will support 180 additional services to be able to answer various customer questions via the DSOA website and its account on the social networks.

The DSOA is constantly looking for new ways to integrate the latest technologies, enhance user experience, and rely on advanced machine learning models to provide customers with all services.

Are we going to see new smart services in the Dubai Silicon Oasis?

The DSOA is working on investing in more smart services that will enhance the role of the technology and innovation sector in the sustainable development of Dubai and the UAE and attract more foreign investments.

What are the nationalities of the companies based in the Dubai Silicon Oasis?

About 36% of them are from the Middle East and Africa, 25% from Europe, 30% from Asia, and 7% from the Americas. About 81% of the companies operating in the Dubai Silicon Oasis specialise in technology, and 19% in the commercial services and other sectors.

Do you think that the transformations taking place in the world economy require new ideas?

The transformations taking place in the global economy emphasise the need to embrace innovation in the business and production cycle. Dubai Silicon Oasis contributes to an advanced role in the transition towards an innovation-based economy and represents an integrated environment and a vital business centre for attracting direct investments to Dubai and the UAE. More than 2,500 companies are based in the Dubai Silicon Oasis until 2018.

What was the growth rate of Dubai Silicon Oasis in2018?

It recorded a growth of 16% in 2018.

The Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority and the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) signed a strategic partnership, where both parties commit to promoting the concept of smart mobility in Dubai and allocating tracks for the movement of smart self-driving vehicles in the Dubai Silicon Oasis area.

During the 2017 Dubai Silicon Oasis, a first-of-its-kind initiative was launched to promote the shift to a wider use of low-emission vehicles for all owners of electric cars to charge their vehicles using charging stations located in the Dubai Silicon Oasis for free.

What much revenues did the Dubai Silicon Oasis generate recently?

We achieved revenues of AED 576.9m in 2018, with a net profit of AED 292.4m, compared to AED 205.7m in 2017, an increase of 42.1%. Our revenues were AED 590.5m in 2017, an increase of 11.2% compared to 2016.

What about the Dubai Technology Entrepreneur Campus (Dtec)?

The Dtec is the largest tech entrepreneur centre in the region. Featuring 10,000 sqm space, spanning two creatively designed locations. It provides technology start-ups with the ultimate work environment from which to start and scale.

It is wholly owned by the DSOA, and aims to enhance the role of the Oasis as a main supporter of entrepreneurship in the country.

What are the main commercial projects in the Oasis?

The International Lulu Group is implementing “Silicon Mall” on an area of ​​2.3m square feet within the mall projects in the city.

Within the strategic investments that contribute to enhancing the oasis’s position as a preferred destination for international industrial companies, especially those working in the field of manufacturing and technological assembly, Dubai Silicon Oasis has completed construction of the sixth stage of the light industrial units.

The Oasis has attracted many companies within the project that is in line with the strategy of the Oasis, which aims to establish an integrated technology system and provide an integrated business environment and advanced technological infrastructure that provides ready solutions for current and potential customers looking to establish their headquarters or expand their business in the region. The volume of investments in the light industrial units since the establishment of the Oasis is approximately AED 324m.

What about the educational projects in the Dubai Silicon Oasis?

In the technology education sector, construction works for the first phase of the Rochester University-Dubai Technology Campus project will be completed during the second quarter of 2020.

The investment cost of the project amounts to AED 500m, and it is decided to deliver the first stage at a cost of AED 200m, and will be built on an area of ​​30,000 sqm. The second phase of the project will be completed by 2023 at a cost of AED 300m to add an area of ​​116,000 sqm to the campus. It is expected that the campus will accommodate 4,000 students, and the project will include a number of other colleges.

The DSOA has recently adopted water solutions and effective irrigation initiatives, can you elaborate on these initiatives?

The DSOA has adopted a policy of water refining and effective irrigation initiatives and has processed 2.5bn gallons of wastewater. We have a smart irrigation system that currently irrigates more than 3,000 palm trees within an area of ​​70,000 sqm.

We aim to expand the coverage of smart irrigation to 200,000 sqm in 2020, which represents about 20% of the public green areas in the free zone.

What about rationalisation of energy consumption in the Oasis?

On the level of energy efficiency, the DSOA has made a quantum leap through several environmental and smart initiatives that have been implemented, such as the initiative to reduce energy consumption by 34%, while the Dubai Integrated Energy 2030 strategy set goals to reduce energy consumption by 30%.

It is currently seeking to implement a number of key initiatives being implemented within the framework of the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050, which aims to enhance energy efficiency and reduce operational costs at the same time.

The DSOA and the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Dubai signed a memorandum of understanding for cooperation between the two sides to facilitate and accelerate smart services provided to investors, entrepreneurs and emerging entrepreneurs, especially citizens of the state, to establish and develop their investment projects in the oasis, especially in the sectors of technology, artificial intelligence, and smart city applications.

On the level of electronic transactions, the number of services available electronically increased to 351 services within four main areas that include corporate affairs, institutions, engineering, operations, and marketing. The number of requests for electronic services for the year 2018 reached 33,000 requests, and 64,000 electronic transactions were completed and the electronic wallet recorded the completion of 22,000 transactions through them.

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