‘Smart Dubai’ could help counter rising costs of living

DUBAI (Xinhua) – With the government digitalising public services, a “Smart Dubai” could help counter rising costs of living by offering efficient suggestions, an official said Monday.

The Dubai government is turning to digital solutions and scraping red tape as a part of the bid to become the “city of happiness,” said Aisha Butti Bin Bishr, Director General of the Smart Dubai Office at the ongoing technology fair Gitex 2017.

Ordering a resident visa by smart phone, for example, is cheaper than going by car to the public residence office, she explained.

Also, “digitalisation is all about match-making, and this what Smart Dubai aims to deliver,” she said, adding that the Dubai Happiness initiative and the Smart Dubai masterplan do not try to reduce costs of living, “but to show residents the opportunities the city has to offer.”

In the future, apps provided by the government will tell people where to buy cheap furniture, rents in different area, and which schools offer affordable education for children.

In April, Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan launched the e-governance scheme “Smart Dubai 2021” with the objective to eliminate all paper works at government institutions as of 2021.

However, rising costs of daily life are weighing on the residents.

British bank HSBC, a major foreign lender in Dubai, said in a study published in July this year that sending a child to school in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), from grammar school to university, will cost approximately 100,000 US dollars, representing the second highest costs for education in the world.

In relation to UAE’s reliance on food imports, Euler Hermes, the world’s leading provider of trade-related credit insurance solutions, expects spending on food and beverages (F&B) to grow at a rate of eight per cent until 2018 amid an increase in the price of several agricultural commodities.

With the constant low oil price, which has been hovering for months around 50 dollars per barrel, opportunities for businesses and individuals have been shrinking in 2017, and a number of retailers have closed shop.

The UAE needs a price of 67 dollars per barrel to reach fiscal break-even, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).