H.E. Qassim Sultan
Dubai Municipality, UAE
Dubai Municipality is regarded as one of the largest establishments in Dubai in terms of the number of people it employs, the volume of services it provides to the public and the projects it carries out. Dubai Municipality is the major driving force behind the development process of Dubai City as a whole. In this interview His Excellency Mr. Qassim Sultan shares his views with [email protected] Middle East on the future plans of the Municipality for the Emirate of Dubai
Dubai Municipality’s e-Services are on par with some of the top government e-Services worldwide. What hurdles and challenges have you experienced on the path towards introduction of e-Services in the Municipality? How far has the introduction led to creating greater efficiency and effectiveness in government operations?
We at Dubai Municipality are very proud of our achievements in the e-Government arena. In three and a half years, we have managed to deliver over 140 online services for both the business sector and the general public. Our online customers have registered over 970,000 online transactions over the same period and the average number of online transactions stands at approximately 14,000 transactions a week. So the adoption of our online services has been extremely positive.
There is no doubt that any breakthrough initiative such as e-government always poses multiple and complex challenges. In the case of Dubai Municipality, we faced our fair share of challenges during the early stages of implementation. Initially, we focused heavily on changing the mindset of our employees by introducing them to the main concepts of e-government and the benefits it introduces to our organization and our customers. This was a very tedious and exhaustive process because people are typically resistant to change. Once we started introducing our e-services, our major challenge was to convince our customers to use them and take advantage of the various benefits that come along with dealings with the municipality through the Internet. This required us to design special workshops and training sessions for our customers to introduce them to the e-services and make the customers comfortable with using them. As we have progresses along the path to e-government, we have seen a gradual increase in the number of customers that deal with us electronically.
Online services have allowed us to streamline our processes and focus on simplifying procedures in order to make things as easy as possible for us customers.
The website of the Municipality – www.dm.gov.ae – has transformed into the region’s one of the most advanced city services web site. In what ways are the local businesses and individuals benefiting from the transformation? What has been its impact on the growth of tourism?
We have recently redesigned our website look and feel in accordance with international website usability standards. We have arranged the information on the Dubai Municipality website to make it easy for our customers to efficiently locate the information they need. We also have a system in place that allows us to keep the vast range of information on our portal up to date so that visitors always obtain timely and accurate information. Just like our online services, our website also contains information that is valuable to both businesses and individuals. There is also some useful content for tourists – or prospective tourists – such as the pages on public parks in Dubai and “Your Eyes over Dubai” which provides innovative images of various landmarks in the city. We also provide links to various websites that are of interest to tourists.
In what ways is geospatial technology helping the various units of the Municipality in accepting various challenges?
Dubai GIS Center has been pro-actively integrating geo-spatial technology into the mainstream workflows of Dubai Municipality’s departments with training of personnel, induction of nationals (with academic and on-the-job training), provision of software applications as well as geo-spatial data for business processes.
What steps are being taken by the Municipality to create awareness among the public in the domain of urban development? What is the level of awareness among the public on the potential of using maps?
The professionals in the private sector as well as the general public have been made aware of the role of the Municipality in the domain of urban development with Dubai Municipality’s publicity campaigns and free training on the internet. There is already a noticeable increase in demand for maps and mapping data from the private sector who provide value-added services to their clients, such as in tourism, fleet management, etc.
What is your opinion about Public-Private Partnership in the domain of finding solutions for municipal services and infrastructure development?
We believe in an effective and efficient relationship with the private sector in order to deliver the best municipal services and infrastructure development in line with our vision to create an excellent city that provides the essence of success and comfort of living.
Some of your projects such as Dubai Internet City, Dubai Media City, Knowledge Village have won accolades around the world. In what ways are they contributing to the knowledge economy in Dubai?
These are projects undertaken by the Dubai Government under the umbrella of the Dubai Technology, E-Commerce and Media Free Zone in order to boost the city’s position in the region as a major IT, Media and Knowledge hub. Leading international giants in these spheres have already set up their regional headquarters in the free zone with the objective of tapping the local and regional markets. Apart from global leaders, several medium-sized and small establishments have also made their presence felt. Such an exposure will provide the country’s new generation vast avenues for learning and growth, keeping them fully abreast with the latest in the fields of information technology, media and various other branches of knowledge.
“It is people who will shape the future, not machines or capital”: This is one of the famous statements by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. In light of this, what steps are you taking towards capacity building in Dubai Municipality? What role do you see for regional cooperation in this area?
In line with the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and UAE Ministry of Defence, we have devised detailed plans for training and developing the manpower. Through a three-year and a two-year training plans that were undertaken over the past five years, some 18,000 employees (inclusive of repetitions as many employees attend more than one course) were trained. In the current two-year plan (2005-06) we envisage training of some 10,000 employees (including repetitions).
What is your future vision for the Emirate of Dubai in general and Dubai Municipality in particular?
We have adopted our future vision as to create an excellent city that provides the essence of success and comfort of living. In other words, Dubai Municipality focuses on achieving a constant improvement of living standards in the Emirate of Dubai while striking a dynamic balance between its population and resources on one hand, and its development objectives and environmental systems on the other. This will be accomplished by strengthening Dubai’s position in the financial, commercial and tourist fields regionally and globally through the efficient development of various civic services.
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