Samsung-backed Blocko, a leading blockchain provider, has launched in the UAE in partnership with SEED Group, a member of the Private Office of Sheikh Saeed bin Ahmed Al Maktoum.

Having already established a presence in South Korea, the UK and Hong Kong, Blocko secured $8.9m in funding in June 2018 and went on to secure a further $7.44m in a Series B+ round from Korea’s oldest bank, Shinhan, as well as KEB Hana Bank, LB Investment and Dadam Investment in August this year.

The company is now focusing efforts on bringing its Aergo platform to the Middle East, looking to replicate its success in Asia and Europe.

Phil Zamani, co-CEO of Blocko and CEO and founder of Aergo, said: “We launched Aergo in response to the growing need for data sharing between industries and companies in areas such as identity verification, document management and the Internet of Things – the same areas in which the Middle East in particular is seeking practical solutions.”

In April 2018, the UAE Government launched the Emirates Blockchain Strategy 2021, which aims to capitalise on blockchain technology to transform 50 percent of government transactions into the blockchain platform by 2021.

By doing so, annuals savings of AED11bn ($3bn) are expected in transactions and documents processed routinely, as well as 398m printed documents and 77m work hours.

“The UAE and the wider Middle East region are constantly seeking advanced blockchain solutions for government and digital services. And so, we recognised the partnership with Blocko and Aergo as a solution to satisfy the increasing need for companies working at the highest level of scale and security,” said Hisham Al Gurg, CEO of SEED Group and The Private Office of Sheikh Saeed bin Ahmed Al Maktoum.

The company has already built 38 full-scale enterprise blockchain solutions in South Korea for companies like Samsung, Cisco, Hyundai Motors, and also Gyeonggi-do province.

As the Expo 2020 Dubai site completes all the major infrastructure work at the exhibition site, the construction of the project has been delivered “below budget”, according to a senior executive managing the event’s masterplan.

“So, as of today… we completed the infrastructure completely, 100 percent… All the roads, all drainage, telecommunication, water, electricity, all completed,” Ahmed Al Khatib, chief development and delivery officer at Expo 2020 Dubai, told Arabian Business in an interview at the Expo site on Tuesday.

According to his official biography, Al Khatib is responsible for the delivery and management of the Expo site masterplan, as well as all its supporting utilities, infrastructure services, roads, networks and transportation.

“We’ve finished all the roads, except for the final layer, we will keep it late, and the road markings, so it is fresh. The landscaping of the entire site is in progress… We completed three of the surrounding buildings of Al Wasl. There are five, we completed three of them. Two of them are due for completion by November. The themed pavilions – Sustainability, Mobility and Opportunity – they are in progress and towards the end of the year, beginning of next year, they will be done and completed with exhibitions,” he added.

With the major works now complete, Al Khatib was asked if the project was on target in terms of budget.

“It is actually below budget,” he answered.

According to the budget documents submitting as part of the Expo 2020 Dubai bid, the total capital expenditure for the site will be AED25 billion ($6.8 billion). A report by HSBC said the total budget for the project is AED33bn ($8.9bn), with AED23bn ($6.2bn) being invested in urban developments and infrastructure projects.

Expo 2020 Dubai will run from October 20, 2020 to April 20, 2021 and it is estimated the event will attract 25 million visits, with around 70 percent coming from overseas.

In April a report by global consultancy firm EY forecast that Expo 2020 Dubai will boost the UAE economy by AED122.6bn ($33.4bn) and support 905,200 job-years between 2013 and 2031

During the peak six-month period of the World Expo, the largest event to be held in the Arab World is predicted to add the equivalent of 1.5 percent to the UAE gross domestic product.

Najeeb Mohammed Al-Ali, executive director of the Dubai Expo 2020 Bureau, said: “This independent report demonstrates that Expo 2020 Dubai is a critical long-term investment in the future of the UAE, which will contribute more than 120 billion dirhams to the economy between 2013 and 2031.

“Not only will the event encourage millions around the world to visit the UAE in 2020, it will also stimulate travel and tourism and support economic diversification for years after the Expo, leaving a sustainable economic legacy that will help to ensure the UAE remains a leading destination for business, leisure and investment.”

The report added that small and medium enterprises, a core component of the UAE economy, will receive AED4.7 billion in investment during the pre-Expo phase, supporting 12,600 job-years.

The full interview with Ahmed Al Khatib, chief development and delivery officer at Expo 2020 Dubai, will be published as part of Arabian Business’ special Expo 2020 Dubai edition on October 20.

Companies registered in Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC) will now be able to operate in mainland Dubai as part of new regulations introduced in the free zone in partnership with the Department of Economic Development, it was announced on Tuesday.

In a statement, the DED and DHCC said that companies interested in expanding their operations in the mainland need to first apply for a no objection certificate (NOC) from the free zone’s regulator, the Dubai Healthcare City Authority – Regulatory (DHCR). Second, they must obtain a commercial permit from DED.

“We work closely with DED to identify initiatives and areas of cooperation that will enhance Dubai’s competitive business environment and strengthen Dubai’s position as a preferred investment destination,” said Dr. Ramadan Alblooshi, the chief regulatory officer of Dubai Healthcare City Authority.

Alblooshi added that segments such as consultancies and healthcare management firms that are registered in DHCC will benefit.

“The commercial permits will support business growth between our free zone and the mainland,” he said.

Omar Almeheiri, the director of development and follow-up in the business registration and licensing sector of DED, said that “the agreement reflects the shared commitment of the various authorities in Dubai to provide a supportive environment for businesses in line with global best practices and standards”.

“Such co-operation will help achieve the vision of the Government of Dubai in developing the various economic sectors and creating a competitive investment environment capable of positioning the emirate as a global financial and business centre,” he added. “DED aims to facilitate business licensing procedures for investors through such partnerships.”

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