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Destination Dubai: Greenfield Mobility Market? (Part 2 of 2)

March 25, 2007 - 1 Comment

When you land in Dubai International Airport and drive into the city, the Emirate’s most telling landmark (and seemingly national bird!) is the building crane. An enormous metropolis of office towers, shopping malls and man-made islands is rapidly rising from the desert floor. While building cranes feedstock the rapid construction of skyscrapers, the definition of a crane is”a device for lifting and moving heavy weights in suspension.”To this observer, the most remarkable heavy weight in motion in Dubai is the rapid transition of a tribal, desert culture — albeit one that is found on thousands of years of trading and more recently, hydrocarbon wealth — into a modern, service-oriented economy. The country’s leadership well understands this challenge and is in overdrive to make this transition.Mobility, thus, is one of the critical underpinnings of any service-based, including the one that is occurring in Dubai:- Mobility of capital- Mobility of people (information capital, http earlier blog)- Mobility of communicationsCapital is flowing into the Emirates, followed by large numbers of services workers and new residents. The country seemingly, too, has a voracious appetite for communications technologies as well.From our little keyhole, we are watching to see if Dubai embraces new empowering technologies like the Mobile Internet and Wi-Mesh, providing a blanket of secure broadband into the emerging canyons of the new downtown district. This will should not be a big stretch, as these kinds of first mile technologies could be used off-shore where new islands must be connected to the Internet (first mile wireless is already being piloted on oil rigs in other parts of the Middle East).With it’s influx of mobile, entrepreneurial new residents, mobile devices are likely to be the norm rather than reliance of a fixed infrastructure. New applications like Mobile Instant Messaging seem like a natural to a competitive culture like Dubai, which also must compete with its hydrocarbon-rich neighbors that have similar visions of technology-laden modern cities rising from the ground. In addition, wishing to stay in touch with family and friends back home, these new residents are likely to turn to social networking and video technologies to build a stronger community and family bond across geographies and time zones. The challenge for Dubai is to support the mobile identity of its new residents as well as distinct country-centric view of itself.We developed the Mobility Quotient ( to understand how well businesses are taking advantage of mobility technologies. Perhaps the MQ for an entire nation lies in its ability to take the best of the old (culture, values, working systems, etc.) and blend it with the technologies, best practices and human empowerment of what is new. In Dubai, I think the country’s Mobility Quotient will ultimately be measured in how well the commercial and public sector can marshal and utilize the best of what the world has to offer while it continues to build both a national and a global identity. So far the nation seems off to a fast start with lots of repeatable successes.Proverbs tend to be re-used in many cultures. Over 20 years ago, a Qatari classmate of mine shared an Arab proverb:”Anything that happens once does not necessarily happen again, everything that happens twice is likely to happen for the third time as well.”

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  1. How can a place with the kind of growth and influx of people that Dubai is seeing not just embrance mobility, but depend on it? Is there any other way for a new country, let alone company, to be able to grow in today's world?