Technology-Driven Innovative Municipalities: The Case of Dubai Municipality

Technology-Driven Innovative Municipalities: The Case of Dubai Municipality

Ahmed O. El-Kholei (Arabian Gulf University, Bahrain) and Odeh R. Al Jayyousi (Arabian Gulf University, Bahrain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9012-5.ch002
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The chapter sheds light on the linkages between technology-driven innovation, innovative capabilities, activities, and their impact on innovation performance in Dubai Municipality. The methodology adopted is qualitative research using various sources of data, including reports, academic papers, and a survey of visitors and residents. The chapter aims to depict the relationship among a set of elements that foster innovation in the urban context, which is an integral part of an overarching strategy for mainstreaming public sector innovation. Leadership, culture, and infrastructure are critical determinants for an innovative municipality. A set of policy recommendations concludes the chapter to enhance innovation performance and sustainable innovation in cities by investing in digital transformation, smart infrastructure, and e-governance.
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An innovative city is a smart, digital city that is globally connected and whose urban development is knowledge-based. The key to an innovative city is an innovative municipality that fosters models of innovation in the public sector. Also, it embodies models of open and user innovation.

Dubai is a member of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It is located in flat sandy land covering 1,287.5 square kilometers. Dubai enjoys moderate winter; however, summer is hot and humid. According to the Statistics Centre of Dubai, the population of the emirate reached 3,171,723 in December 2018 (“Population,” 2018). Trade, transportation, tourism, aviation, real estate, and financial services are the major economic sectors. The city is among the most expensive cities in the Middle East (Swan, 2014). Dubai has attracted investors, entrepreneurs, and skilled labor by developing mega-engineering projects, such as Burj Khalifa. In 2013, UAE nationals represented about 15% of the population of the emirate; probably for this reason, the male-female ratio is skewed (“Dubai population,” n.d.).

In 1954, the ruler of Dubai founded Dubai Municipality (DM) with a cadre of seven employees undertaking simple tasks in cleaning the city. He then appointed 23 municipal council members to be responsible for health and architectural matters of the city, as well as to organize the construction and beautification of the city and provide constructive suggestions to the government. DM went through successive phases of development and growth. Today, DM is the leading institution that drives the development of Dubai. DM is one of the largest governmental institutions. It employs 11 thousand employees working in 34 departments under the following six sectors:

  • 1.

    International Affairs & Partnership Sector.

  • 2.

    General Support Sector.

  • 3.

    Environment, Health and Safety Control Sector.

  • 4.

    Environmental and Public Health Services Sector.

  • 5.

    Planning and Engineering Sector.

  • 6.

    Corporate Support Sector.

According to several reports, such as Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated and The Business of Cities report issued in 2018, and the Global and World Cities Research Network’s results published in 2016, Dubai has good connections to the world economy, as it provides services to the international economy. These reports assure that Dubai is both an emerging mid-sized new world city that is competitive in specific markets.

The innovative municipal administration is among the factors that contributed to the evolution of Dubai as a global, digital and smart city. In 2017, the DM won eight awards and six honorary certificates from international and Arab institutions devoted to ideas and innovation. The initiatives that received awards and certificates include the Integrated System for Medical Waste Treatment in Dubai; Currency Charity Bank; Irrigation System with Solar Power on Roundabouts (Admin, 2018). These initiatives contribute to the city’s sustainability by minimizing waste, promoting social justice, and conserving resources.

Visvizi, Lytras, Damiani, & Mathkour (2018) attempted to link technology-driven innovation on the one hand, and both social and economic sustainability. They argued that technology enablers lead to a smart city strategy, thus raising social wellbeing. Technology-innovation interface is clear in private sector companies. It is not the case in public sector institutions. The debate to which this chapter contribute is to highlight linkages and relationship between technology and innovation in the public sector.

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