Internet Activities in Dubai
Presumably influenced by the rapid construction of the Internet City, many Internet and e-commerce applications have appeared rapidly in Dubai in recent years. Some examples are as follows:
- Magrudy's Bookshop, a subsidiary of Magrudy Enterprises L.L.C., was the first book shop in the Middle East to provide secure e-commerce services to a global market over the Internet.
- Emirates Bank Group announced that it would be the first Bank to open a branch at the Dubai Internet City. The Branch offers all the traditional banking services to the major corporations that have located in the City, as well as offering its portfolio of existing and upcoming electronic banking facilities.
- Dublin based Misys International Banking Solutions announced in November 2001 that it would be providing online banking solutions to one of Dubai's leading online financial services providers. CashSwitch confirmed that it had licensed the solution to make internet banking more accessible for customers and more cost effective for banks throughout the Gulf region, and revealed that as a result of the new alliance, it will be able to act as an Application Solution Provider (ASP), or to directly license Misys' Fontis iBanking platform to Middle Eastern banks. The package offered by Misys aims to allow banks in the offshore financial centre and throughout the region to offer customers improved online facilities, including account management, transaction enquiries, and secure fund transfers.
- The European Union's imposition of VAT (Value Added Tax) on transactions conducted over the internet in July, 2003, led web hosting firm Emirates Internet and Multimedia to attract firms from within the UAE to use its online services. "Many companies throughout the region have traditionally hosted overseas, in the US or Europe," said Maroua Naim, general manager. "Besides the obvious problems this creates due to time and physical boundaries that hamper effective technical support, the additional VAT charges of hosting abroad are also becoming a concern," he observed. All firms participating in the programme are supplied with free registration on the '.ae' domain for the duration of a year.
- In late January 2006, it emerged that chip-maker, Intel had signed an agreement to move its Dubai offices to the DIC. “Intel is moving its offices to Dubai Internet City because it offers a strategic platform to tap new opportunities in this fast-growing market,' explained Gordon Graylish, Intel Vice President of the Sales and Marketing Group, and General Manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), adding that: “This will help our Dubai team to be closer to many of our fellow travelers in the region as we continue to work with them to develop our business and play a role in growing the IT sector here”.
- In May 2008, Verizon Business announced plans to open an office in Dubai Internet City to further strengthen the company’s service and support capabilities across the Middle East.The office will provide a base for the company’s ongoing regional expansion plans.
- In May 2011, Accela, Inc., the leading US-based provider of software solutions for e-government, announced today that it has established its regional headquarters in the DIC. Accela’s new headquarters will allow the company to easily expand as it addresses new opportunities across the Middle East, North Africa, and beyond. The company will also maintain its offices in the nearby emirate of Abu Dhabi.
The Dubai Government itself has been very active in encouraging e-commerce, and announced in early 2002 that its e-Government initiative would broaden its focus in order to take in expatriates from the United Arab Emirates placed overseas, and students from the region studying abroad.
In March, 2009, the Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, issued Law No. 7 for 2009 which established Dubai eGovernment as a Department. As a consequence, the Dubai eGovernment Department, eServices and Government Information Resource Planning teams were merged into one department.
The Dubai e-Government portal currently offers a wide range of services for visitors, residents, and businesses, including access to permit and visa renewal services, commerce and business related facilities, and company registration and tax department links and many others.
In late 2012, the DIC was one of the parties that signed the UAE eCommerce Working Group Memorandum of Understanding with the Executive Office of the Government of Dubai at the event which aims to propose solutions and policy recommendations to create a more conducive environment to help existing UAE-based business become eCommerce capable.
See Offshore-e-com.com for an extensive analysis of the commercial possibilities of the Internet and the legal background.