DUBAI Dec 12 Dubai's government said on Monday
it had agreed to invest $33.5 million in the pilot projects and
prototypes of 19 companies as part of a new drive to develop its
The emirate has traditionally focused on real estate,
finance, trade and tourism, but aims to spend 1 billion dirhams
($270 million) over the next five years on a programme to fund
technology research in areas including healthcare, transport,
renewable energy, education and security.
Dubai does not plan to buy equity stakes in companies
conducting the research but will use its government departments
as test-beds for their projects, and hopes to benefit as the
firms build operations in the emirate.
Among the first 19 firms to sign deals were U.S. technology
group Honeywell, an Estonian start-up named Guaana which
wants to develop a universal format for scientific projects, and
ConsenSys, which builds tools for systems using blockchain, the
technology behind the bitcoin cryptocurrency.
U.S.-based Hyperloop One agreed with the government to
explore routes between Dubai and Abu Dhabi. A hyperloop uses
magnets to levitate pods inside an airless tube, creating
conditions in which the pods can move people and freight at up
to 750 miles (1,200 kms) an hour.
One of the main institutions backing the technology
programme is Dubai Holding, the investment vehicle of
the emirate's ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum. In
the previous two decades, Dubai Holding played a major role
developing the emirate's tourism and real estate sectors.
(Reporting by Andrew Torchia; editing by Richard Lough)