For first time, Israel, UAE and Bahrain share panel

The panel on the topic of creative cities took place Wednesday in the framework of the DLD Live Tel Aviv innovation festival, an initiative of Cybertech and Israel Defense. The various speakers provided a glimpse into the ways in which their cities are dealing with the challenges of this period 

A screenshot of Aynour Alhussein speaking from Dubai during the panel. 

Haim Bibas, Chairman of the Federation of Local Authorities in Israel, led an international discussion Wednesday on the topic of creative cities that took place at DLD Live Tel Aviv with speakers from the UAE, Bahrain, Finland and the Netherlands. The event took place in the framework of cooperation between Muni World and the innovation festival that is an initiative of Cybertech and Israel Defense.     

Bibas presented the standpoint of the Federation of Local Authorities on municipal innovation, especially during the global coronavirus pandemic period. If the current program for setting the level of coronavirus restrictions "would have been adopted in June, things would not be where we are today, and we will fight to bring it back." Cities that succeed in reducing the level of infection should be compensated, he said, referring to lockdowns as collective punishment that damages the economy and the entire population. Bibas said quick and inexpensive coronavirus checks expected to be available soon will help reinvigorate the economy, adding that the solution of smart cities that combines technological innovation of local authorities with civilian cooperation, as well as cooperation between local authorities, is the key to managing the crisis.     

One of the participants in the panel was Marja-Liisa Niinikoski, CEO of Helsinki Business Hub, the organization that on Tuesday won the grand prize at the InnoVision Ecosystem Awards that took place in the framework of DLD Live Tel Aviv. She told about Helsinki being one of the leading global centers of innovation, especially in the field of quantum computing, with about 200 scientists and experts working in this field. Another representative from Europe on the panel was Wim De Waele, Executive Chairman of The Beacon, an organization in Antwerp that deals with the establishment of AI and IoT communities. He told about the importance of cooperation in the framework of local, regional and global systems, while emphasizing the uniqueness of each city and region.            

"We are trying to utilize technology to be able to serve humanity," said entrepreneur Aynour Alhussein from Dubai, CEO of caffeine LLC and Founder of SMEDistrict for support of entrepreneurs and local businesses. She said one of the pillars of Dubai's smart city initiative is making the city "seamless in terms of integrated daily life services, so how actually we can utilize technology and tech disruption to be able to integrate that into the daily life" in Dubai, and ultimately use the city's resources efficiency. Alhussein, who expressed pride in the innovation of the city and in the advanced vision of those who lead it, said that it is actually possible to do everything online, and that there are thousands of smart services offered to every resident and every tourist. She also said that in Dubai and in the entire UAE there is a strong emphasis on cybersecurity, which of course contributes to the increase of trust and cooperation. Regarding the coronavirus crisis, Alhussein said Dubai set up an accelerator that will help businesses in any way required – from business consulting to required accompanying services to financing,

The final speaker on the panel was Esam Hammad, Director of Partnerships at Tamkeen, a Bahraini governmental organization that operates for development of the private sector. Tamkeen provides grants to start-up companies based in Bahrain that are interested in growing and developing beyond the country's borders. The most important element in Bahrain is its human resources, said Hammad, and Tamkeen considers the employment of local workers by Bahraini companies to be of utmost importance, and even helps by subsidizing salaries and funding training. "All this is basically in the hope of empowering the private sector to be the engine of growth for the economy and reduce the dependence on the government," he said. 

The DLD Live Tel Aviv innovation festival, an initiative of Cybertech and Israel Defense, brings together this year, in a digital edition, about 4,000 people from around the world. The festival includes a series of events including a summit with dozens of speakers from across the globe including columnist Thomas Friedman, the legendary former chairman of Cisco John Chambers and many other top speakers. The founder and chairman of the conference is entrepreneur Dr. Yossi Vardi. Muni World is the international smart city conference of the Federation of the Local Authorities that hosts each year about 1,000 senior officials from local authorities worldwide. Muni World takes place in the framework of Muni Expo, Israel's biggest and most important urban innovation fair, and one of the most significant ones in the world, which will take place in 2021 and present all the solutions and technologies for managing smart cities.