Technology at its best


GITEX GLOBAL is the premier event for exhibitors showcasing the latest technology that has inspired generations and innovations that are set to change the world. This year’s event, held in Dubai from 16 to 20 October, attracted thousands of people who wanted to witness “the technological miracle” firsthand. Aimen Siddiqui gives us a brief account of the event.

On Sunday (October 15), parts of the Dubai World Trade Centre earmarked for the much-anticipated Gitex Global, hailed as the world’s largest tech event, were nearly deserted. A few workers in prominent yellow vests could be seen doing the final touches, but there was calm all around. People, however, were hurriedly moving down the aisle to catch the free shuttles that were taking visitors to the Dubai Harbour – the separate venue for Gitex’s startup show. But this could not predict what people were about to witness the next day.

Technology at its best

As the sun rose on October 16, the calmness that had swept across the World Trade Centre the previous day was nowhere to be seen. Tens of thousands of visitors lined up near the security checkpoints to enter the venue and witness what some participants said is “the technological miracle” of the 21st century. From the first security check to all the way down to the halls, all one could see was a sea of heads, people running around – some following a set schedule to meet the relevant people while some wandering around, struck by the technological advancements.

The event, spread over 30 halls, hosted 6,000 exhibitors from over 180 countries. A prominent feature was the Digital Cities area (Halls 16-19), which was mostly occupied by stalls by Dubai authorities, displaying the new products that will help Dubai meet its goals of building a smart city.

While talking to Us magazine, The News, about the integration of technology during the border clearance at toll gates leading to Saudi Arabia from Dubai, Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs & Port Security (ICP), Services Leadership Section Head Amera Al Khouri said that the “Dubai-Saudi Arabia route is quite busy, and to ease the procedure, Dubai has introduced smart gates.

“As soon as the car enters the toll gates, the tech system will capture the licence plate number and check if it has any violations under it. Once that’s cleared, passengers will be asked to scan either their passport or their Emirates ID. If documents are valid, the barrier will open. If not, the car will be directed to another route.”

A big announcement came from the Dubai Police stall. The authorities revealed its first-ever, fully electric, self-driving patrol vehicle. Still in the “testing phase” according to Lt Rashid Bin Haider – staff member of the Dubai Police – “the small truck-like vehicle will run in residential areas to monitor any illegal activities. It has a small 360-degree camera mounted on top of it (which gives it a face-like structure), gathering intelligence for the authorities.” Lt Rashid Bin Haider explained to The News that the vehicle also “has an on-board drone camera which can reach areas the vehicle cannot.”

Technology at its best

Right across the self-driving vehicle was a shiny ‘jet car’ – surrounded by people marvelling at the technological wonder. The amphibious car will be used by the Dubai Ports Police for surveillance at the city’s coasts. The 1800-cc powered car has a weight of close to 300kg and can carry an additional weight of 350kg, according to a Dubai Ports Police representative.

Dubai’s shift to smart cities has a prominent agenda: making cities safer and cracking down on illegal activities. Here, the Dubai RTA department also comes into action. It uses AI to monitor the activities of ‘delivery riders’ with the help of the camera mounted on the patrolling car.

But the use of tech does not end here. Students at Sheikh Zayed University (who had their stall in the same hall) have come up with an AI-enabled product that can help people with their research work at universities, allowing them to excel at studies. The headgear uses the wearer’s eye signals to perform tasks. Lenovo, a technology company, has also come with an innovative way for early diabetes detection. With the help of the iris, the software created by the company will detect diabetes – from mild to severe cases.

Technology at its best

All halls had something innovative to offer. The new entrant ‘Future Urbanism’ successfully grabbed visitors’ attention, who were in awe of advancements made by companies for sustainable living. A prominent booth was by Abu Dhabi’s Masdar City – a revolutionary green city situated in the outskirts of Abu Dhabi. The city is designed in a way to bring carbon emissions to zero.

Apart from impressive innovations, the event also had some established vendors who had come to find customers. The use of AI in educational products for children was remarkable – and something that deserves the attention of our education authorities who must embrace tech in educating the more than 2 million out-of-school children in the country.

Pakistan’s performance at the event has also been appreciated by both exhibitors and visitors. Most exhibitors have had great opportunities at networking and increasing their clientele. But there was one thing missing: Pakistani tech students who might have had a chance at learning about technological advancements and understanding how they could use tech to create innovative products.

For the next edition, policymakers in the education department must consider sending a batch of students to the event to give them an opportunity to see technological advancements up close.


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