The UNLOCK Blockchain Forum which commenced today at the Ritz Carlton Hotel DIFC and which will continue until January 15th 2018 has proven once again that Dubai is a vanguard when it comes to attracting innovative experts, blockchain start-ups, and forward looking attendees.
Al-Iktissad-Wal-Aamal, the organizers of UNLOCK Blockchain forum were not surprised to receive more than 60 blockchain start-ups from more than 39 countries, as well as more than 40 prominent expert speakers, and more than 500 participants.
HE Dr. Aisha Bint Buti Bin Bisher, Director General of Smart Dubai, the office driving Dubai’s city-wide transformation delivered her keynote speech at the opening. HE stated, “Guided by the example of our nation’s leadership, we have learned to continually look to the horizon to start creating the future today. And while others were still debating the prospects of this new technology, we got to work. We are making Dubai the blockchain capital of the world, we have 20 public sector Blockchain use cases and it’s only the beginning”.
“Dubai took the forward-thinking approach and broke ground on the bold Dubai Blockchain Strategy, and by supporting events such as the UNLOCK Blockchain Forum, we are building a platform to share our learnings and prepare Dubai, and the world, for the future of Blockchain.” HE added.
Walid Abou Zaki, executive director, Al-Iktissad-Wal-Aamal stated, “When I first heard the word blockchain I knew it was a game changer, and we at Iktissad Wal Aamal endeavour to learn and understand our topics in-depth because we see ourselves as more than just event organizers. We are proud today to say that our efforts have met with success not only in terms of quantity but the quality of participation and the content being discussed. We believe that the next step in the right direction will entail creating the right regulations for Initial Crowd Funding ICOs as this will attract serious blockchain start-ups as well as position Dubai uniquely.”
The first session of UNLOCK took a close look into blockchain on the eve of its 9th anniversary. Renowned speakers such as Oliver Bussmann, CEO of Bussmann Advisory, James Wallis, VP Blockchain IBM, Dr. Abdulla Kablan Blockchain Advisor to the government of Malta discussed together which platforms would prevail, what forms of blockchain would take precedence over others and how the future of blockchain platforms would evolve.
The second panel at UNLOCK delved into the topic of how to create successful blockchain implementations. Zeina Al Kaissi, Head of Emerging Technology and Global partnerships, Smart Dubai, Andrea Tinianow Director of Global Delaware, Founding Director of Delaware Blockchain initiative, Vincent Wang Chief Innovation officer Wanxiang holdings China and other prominent speakers discussed examples of real hands on blockchain implementation projects and how those projects differed from traditional implementations. They also offered key learning’s and advice for those who endeavour to implement blockchain in the near future.
Ramez Dandan, National Technology Officer, Microsoft Gulf stated, “Investment in blockchain, across the GCC and beyond, is ramping up at an impressive rate, as organisations recognise it for the disruptive digital transformation technology that it is. Microsoft’s participation in UNLOCK follows its commitment in Feb 2016 to the Dubai Future Foundation’s Global Blockchain Council because we strongly believe in the technology’s immense potential for enterprises of all scales and industries. It allows them to share business processes with suppliers, customers and partners, leading to new opportunities for multi-party collaboration and, eventually, exciting new business models.”
Hon Silvio Schembri, Parliament Secretary for financial services and digital Economy and Innovation, Prime Minister Office Malta, provided a keynote on what Malta has accomplished so far with Blockchain. Security expert from DarkMatter Mr. Jason Cooper, Blockchain Specialist delivered a keynote on how using Blockchain can streamline government and cities securely.
The afternoon sessions at UNLOCK saw two tracks. Panel discussions centered on Blockchain and the utilities sector. Mr. Mahmoud Abu Fadda, Senior specialist Innovation and Future at DEWA talked about DEWA’s future plans to create electric vehicles charging using Blockchain. The session also included speakers from Sun Exchange and Ambrosus.
The panel session Dubai the next Blockchain startup valley, witnessed an announcement by Ralf Glabischnig, Managing Partner, Inacta; Partner, Lakeside Partners; Co- Founder of Crypto Valley Labs, Switzerland for the intention to open Crypo Valley labs for Blockchain start-ups and entrepeneurs in Dubai.
In parallel sessions, startups were showcasing how they successfully built Blockchain solutions to solve the problems facing our societies and economies of today. Blockchain startups ranging from Malaysia, UK, Russia, and even Estonia were among speakers in these sessions. Some prominent startups included Naked Technologies, Credits, threefold, Acorn Collective and Echarge. Other startups sessions centered on what Blockchain was doing for healthcare sector. Curecoin, medicalchain, and Etheal were some of the startups presenting.
Day One ended with Mr. Bussmann keynote speech that stressed on how one can stay ahead of the Digital disruption curve. As he stated, “The central business logic of today is being replace by Smart Contracts. First Blockchain movers are focusing on selective & existing cases into production with the highest benefit impact. The convergence of emerging technologies will blur the lines between industries in a highly connected real-time world.” He also gave many examples of what Blockchain startups are doing in the realm of trade, finance, and food supply.
The second day of UNLOCK Blockchain will see interesting panels on Banking, real-estate, smart city Blockchain implementations as well as more startup sessions.