Singapore, UAE embark on smart city cooperation

29 Jan 2015

Amb Interview

The UAE and Singapore are joining hands on developing “smart-city” capabilities.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, visited Singapore a few months ago to co-chair the first meeting of a joint committee.

This year marks the 30th year of diplomatic relations between both countries.

Umej Bhatia, Singapore’s ambassador to the UAE, said the joint committee was an important milestone and was necessary to boost bilateral relations in various sectors.

Last year, Singapore’s embassy received 28 requests for benchmarking or study visits with the UAE in areas including security and law-enforcement, economic development and finance, labour, education, health care, energy and governance.

“Singapore and the UAE are similar in policy, government and security, and they have similar challenges, so it helps that we can benchmark against each other,” Mr Bhatia said.

He said Singaporean government agencies had been visiting the UAE to study the country’s model for addressing its foreign labour population and new technologies in urban planning.

“Instead of looking to the west, both look to each other, which is very noteworthy,” said the ambassador.

A team from Dubai Silicon Oasis flew to Singapore this week to learn about the country’s strategic and technical approaches to developing “smart-city” capabilities.

Last month, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Singapore’s minister for communications and information, visited the UAE to meet senior officials.

Mr Bhatia said both countries agreed to coordinate efforts to “create new norms in smart cities and look at what non-western countries need”.

He said Masdar City and the Ministry of Energy were interested in Singapore’s energy-efficiency solutions.

“Singapore is a test bed for being small and compact and we’re perfecting special technologies, so it’s great for both sides to test each other’s technologies and share them,” said Mr Bhatia.

For its part, Abu Dhabi had a lot to offer in terms of urban planning lessons, said the envoy.

“Cities are the nodes for development, trade, tourism, connecting different points,” he said. “So if you integrate municipal, government services and e-commerce and put it all in one ecosystem, you create a smart city that’s responsive to its citizens.”

Conversely, Singapore could learn from the UAE about environmentally friendly buildings, said Mr Bhatia.

“The UAE is leading the pack in terms of energy efficiency and it’s a continuous learning journey for us,” said the ambassador.

We hope to have more high-level visits by the end of the year.”


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