All eyes on Dubai: IBM and MasterCard supporting its smart city ambitions

Fri, 2014-05-16 06:00 -- Liz Enbysk

Council Global Partners IBM and MasterCard are among the latest corporate giants to announce initiatives in Dubai, where government leaders have set an ambitious agenda to become the world's smartest city.

IBM is partnering with the University of Dubai to set up a Smarter Cities Institute on the school's campus. Focus will be on smart cities research and curriculum development, the latter mainly in the areas of mobility, cloud, security and business analytics, according to a report in Gulf Business. It indicated that research might focus on analytics use by governments and how it can improve the delivery and effectiveness of public sector services.

"By collaborating with a global leader like IBM, we will be able to support the development of a strong human capital innovation ecosystem and expand our research capabilities to address the societal and economical challenges inherent to the smart cities urban development," Dr. Easa Bastaki, president of University of Dubai said in the report.

MasterCard, meanwhile, will provide integrated processing services to customers across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) with its new payments processing center located in the UAE. The center is designed to be a one-stop-shop for financial institutions, governments and telecommunication companies, for all their payment processing requirements.

Cathy McCaul, president of MasterCard Global Processing, told the Khaleej Times that the multi-million facility that will significantly boost MasterCard’s operations in the region in terms of workforce and investment. She also said the center is expected to be catalyst for innovation in the payments industry and is in line with Dubai’s smart city initiative.

Earlier this year Council Global Partner Alstom opened a first-of-its-kind Smart Grid Center in Dubai,  calling it a major step in its long-term commitment to providing sustainable electricity infrastructure to the United Arab Emirates and the region.

Smartest and most visited

A story in the UK Telegraph says that not only has Dubai set its sights on being the world's smartest city, it also wants to overtake London as the world's most visited city. Dubai, according to the report, had 11 million visitors in 2013 and wants to increase that to 20 million by 2020. London had 16.8 million visitors in 2013.

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