Dubai, November 25, 2019 – Smart Dubai and the Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED – Dubai Economy) have announced a joint new data initiative for the retail sector, part of the Private Sector Data Engagement Strategy, which was designed to foster stronger collaboration between the public and private sectors on data.

The new initiative will see anonymised and aggregated datasets examined to understand catchment area (the zone surrounding retailers or malls from which they can draw customers), visitor flow, and spending trends in one of Dubai’s largest malls.

The project seeks to enhance the resilience of the retail sector by developing an understanding of the demographics and various behaviours, such as spending or visiting patterns. It will also provide insights into citywide data to inform economic policy decision-making.

Smart Dubai is partnering with three government, semi-governmental, and private Sectors to implement the project, namely, the Dubai Department of Economic Development, Majid Al Futtaim (with whom Smart Dubai has an MoU to Enhance Data and Analytics Capabilities since December 2017), and du.

“Data is the foundation of smart cities; we’ve said this before on numerous occasions, and we reiterate it as we add yet another milestone on Dubai’s journey to harness the power of data and drive its plans to become the smartest and happiest city in the world,” said H.E. Dr Aisha Bint Butti Bin Bishr, Director General, Smart Dubai. “The initiative we are launching is a pragmatic step to materialise the objectives of the Private Sector Data Engagement Strategy, which brings the public and private sectors together to collaborate on data. Our goal is to enable the seamless exchange and use of data to establish a robust data ecosystem and create economic and social value.”

“Our focus on the retail sector stems from the immense contribution it makes to Dubai’s economy,” H.E. Dr Aisha explained. “Indeed, wholesale and retail was by far the emirate’s largest sector in 2018, according to figures by the Dubai Statistics Centre. It accounted for 26.4% of GDP – more than double the contribution of the second sector in line, transportation and storage, which accounted for just 12.3%.”

Meanwhile, H.E. Sami Al Qamzi, Director General of Dubai Economy, commented: “Data sharing with the private sector plays a pivotal role in improving policy reforms that are aimed at enabling the government to remain agile in embracing new opportunities for economic growth. For Dubai, it is very important to understand the changes in performance of the emirate’s main sectors and analyse the performance of each sector with public and private stakeholders, in order to consistently improve the environment for doing business in the city. We assure the private sector that the government will share more economic datasets with them to help them to improve their business plans.”

For his part, Joe Abi Akl, Acting Chief Corporate Development Officer at Majid Al Futtaim – Holding, said: “In today’s knowledge economy, it’s becoming more and more relevant for the private and public sectors to share open and anonymised data for the greater good of Dubai, its economy and its people. Given the retail sectors’ contribution to the city’s GDP, we can facilitate further economic growth through this initiative, while also improving infrastructure planning and providing consumers with more tailored and personalised experiences. Cities all over the world can take inspiration from this initiative and we are proud to partner with Smart Dubai to break new ground for the data industry.”

“As Smart Dubai’s strategic partner, du is working on the deployment of the digital backbone of the city – the smart city platform, Dubai Pulse. We have just entered the second phase of this deployment journey,” said Farid Faraidooni, Deputy CEO – Enterprise Solutions, EITC (du). “This retail initiative will support the sector’s capabilities to make informed decisions through this specific retail use case, and we are confident that Dubai Pulse will empower a new era of retail experiences that are tailored to the needs of citizens and residents of Dubai.”

The innovative data-sharing initiative will be managed in accordance with international standards and best practices for safe, seamless, and fair exchange of data. The ultimate goal is to strike a balance between encouraging exchange and extraction of the value of data, on one hand, and security, privacy, data protection on the other.

Both the public and private sectors stand to draw great benefits from the new project; private companies can expect a deeper understanding of population dynamics and spend potential in catchment areas, paving the way for more informed decisions, tailored marketing campaigns, and targeted offering. Public entities, meanwhile, can use sales data to make informed, hyper-responsive, and targeted decisions on economic policy and strategic plans.

The new initiative is set to be overseen by a multi-stakeholder Steering Committee, co-chaired by DED Director General H.E. Sami Al Qamzi and H.E. Dr Aisha Bin Bishr, which aims to extract value from shared data about the retail sector, all while balancing the interests of participants in the new innovative data project.

The Private Sector Data Engagement Strategy operates along four strategic themes: Transparent governance and regulations, operational excellence, commercialisation, and people and engagement. The initiative helps engage the private sector in Dubai’s citywide smart transformation, and further strengthens public-private partnership and collaboration in the emirate, in line with the forward-thinking vision of the UAE leadership.