SMART city branding: Smart Dubai Through Dr. Aisha Bin Bishr’s Eyes. 

dubAI, 12, november 2016- 14.00 CEST 


Her Excellency Dr. Aisha Butti Bin Bishr – Director General of the Smart Dubai Office. Dr. Aisha Bin Bishr is the Director General of the Smart Dubai Office. Dr. Aisha Bin Bishr has received many awards; the latest is Middle East Woman Leader in Corporate Management Excellence (2012). She has also received an award recognizing her role in enabling the smart city vision of His Highness Mohammed Bin Rashid, from the Swedish Embassy, Trade & Invest Council and Ericsson. Dr. Aisha Bin Bishr represents the Smart Dubai Initiative in many communities and conferences such as City Protocol Society as well as at the GSMA. Dr. Aisha Bin Bishr holds a PHD in Management, Science, Technology and Innovation and Master of Philosophy (MPhil), Policy and Research on Engineering, Science and Technology from Manchester Business School. A Bachelor of Science (BS), Applied Science (Business Information Technology) from Higher Colleges of Technology , and a degree in Public Finance Management from Dubai School of Government as well as a graduate of Orchestrating Winning Performance from IMD   

DR. Aisha, what is your biggest dream for Smart Dubai?

To realize the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai of making Dubai the happiest city on earth, and achieve 95% happiness levels in the city.

We recognize that technology is only a means, to achieving our end goal of impacting people’s happiness. Using technology, we are continuously improving experiences for everyone in our city. Our aim is to make Dubai a more efficient, seamless, safe and impactful city experience for everyone, and we have oriented everything that we do towards these four pillars.

What is -in 3 or 4 words- the Smart Dubai Mantra? 

Making Dubai the happiest city on earth.


Dr. Aisha, what does happiness mean for you? How does Smart Dubai measure happiness?

Happiness to me is when in the future residents and visitors to Dubai will have access to best-in-class smart services from the government and from the private sector.

We believe that the voice of every resident or visitor to Dubai counts. We want to listen to them, so the we can gather the insights we need to be able to act. For this reason, we introduced the Happiness Meter, one of the most impactful tools of our smart city transformation.

In order to become the happiest city, we knew that we would need a way to listen to everyone in the city, and understand their current levels of happiness with city services. Only with this data, would we then be able to introduce new programs to increase happiness across the city and achieve our vision.

With this in mind, we developed the first Happiness Meter prototype in October 2014, to capture customer satisfaction levels at every city interaction touchpoint, and we called it the Happiness Meter.

The Happiness Meter is now available for both public and private sector entities and on all digital customer interaction channels: with web-based widgets, mobile application plug-ins, and tablets installed at customer services centers and other interaction touchpoints.


Cities are not solely rational… Emotions fuel motivation…creativity spark innovation. Dr. Aisha, do you think smart cities should start to measure its EQ (Emotional Quotient) in some way?

This May, we launched the Happiness Agenda to guide our citywide transformation to prioritising happiness. The Happiness Agenda has been designed to promote the impact of happiness through four portfolios: discover; change, educate and measure happiness for the city.

We will begin by discovering what happiness means to Dubai citizens and residents, in order to create a definition for happiness in Dubai, with a scientific framework to measure and impact happiness in our unique cultural landscape.

We will influence policies & recommend approaches to help city leaders, organisations and individuals on happiness in everything they do.

We will share our learnings with our community, to show people how to prioritise happiness in their daily lives and increase the happiness impact of their work

We will measure the happiness of people in our city, through tools such as the Happiness Meter and we will use this data to continually refine and improve our approach.


What is -in your opinion- the distinctive style of Smart Dubai? In other words, how would you describe your Smart city brand’s personality? (Ex. Imagine Dubai were a person)

Smart Dubai is the team captain. Our city transformation cannot be achieved by acting alone. We are actively working with our partners to unify and enable our smart transformation. We are pioneering this new and collaborative approach to smart cities, and demonstrating that by working together and breaking down barriers.

If Smart Dubai were a soccer team, how can citizens (players) contribute, through data, to achieve goals for the benefit of the public good? 

While we are guided by our vision for people’s happiness, we recognise that data is at the heart of a smart city. That is why, during GITEX 2015, we announced the Dubai Data Law, launching the most ambitious and comprehensive data initiative in the world today.

Led by the Dubai Data Establishment within the Smart Dubai Office, Dubai will be the first city to govern both the opening and sharing of data, and the first to involve both the public and private sector in a citywide data initiative.

Our goal is not to gather the most data. Rather, we aim to unleash the greatest value from data, creating new opportunities and improving experiences. Everything we do through the Dubai Data initiative is guided by a singular focus on delivering the benefits of data to the city.

The Dubai Data Establishment team have been working very closely with our pioneering government partners for nine months now, to identify and ready the most valuable data sets for the city. Thanks to the hard work of our partners, we are on schedule to open the first data sets to the city by Feb 2017.

Dr. Aisha, what are Smart Dubai’s unique differentiators that help create and leverage city branding advantage? 


Smart Dubai embraces the spirit of the entrepreneur. We are committed to an agile and collaborative approach in everything we do, and we are pioneering this new paradigm for government leadership in the city. To achieve our mandate, we have to be innovative, creative, and willing to take risks. And in everything we do, are are committed to increasing people’s happiness.

logo-smart-dubaiThe smile is truly the perfect brand symbol for Smart Dubai. Not only does it symbolise for people what we aim to accomplish, but it also serves as a reminder of our purpose and a motivator for all of us as we work every day to impact people’s happiness through smart technology. Whenever I see our logo, I am inspired again towards our vision — to make   Dubai the happiest city on earth.

What perception does your brand want to “own” in the minds of Smart City Ecosystem?

We are leading a smart city transformation on a scale that is unprecedented globally, spanning every sector and every dimension of a smart city, but this alone is not what makes us truly unique.

We are first among smart cities globally to recognize that our end goal is not to install the most sensors, or to gather the most data. Rather, everything we do is towards a single purpose: to increase the happiness of everyone in the city.

People’s happiness is the ultimate mission of any smart city project. And we are proud to be leading and inspiring cities across the globe to dedicate themselves to this purpose.

Are you working in a Digital Diplomacy Strategy to support Smart Dubai city branding values? 

Just last month, the Smart Dubai Office and our partners at the Dubai Future Foundation launched the Dubai Blockchain Strategy. With the Dubai Blockchain Strategy, we are creating a roadmap for the introduction of Blockchain technology for Dubai, and the creation of an open platform to share the technology with cities across the globe. 

The Dubai Blockchain strategy is built on three pillars of government efficiency, industry creation and international leadership. 

By 2020, we aim to achieve 100% government participation on the blockchain — making Dubai the first Blockchain-powered government and we will share our experiences with the world.

We will also aim to spark 1000s of new business opportunities with the technology. Through the Global Blockchain Council, which was founded in Dubai earlier this year, we will also be creating an international network through which tourists from up to 27 countries can enjoy seamless entry and experiences within Dubai, benefitting from the Blockchain. 


DR. Aisha, to what extent is the citizen centric experience linked with Smart Dubai Strategy in your opinion? 

Traditionally, a city resident has to go out of their way to transact a city service. Often needing to take time off work and travel long distances across the city to transact a simple service, like paying a bill or applying for a license renewal.

At Smart Dubai, we see an opportunity to use smart technology to reverse this equation. We believe that the city should go to the customer, rather than the other way around. We say that technology should work with you, not against you.

We believe that technology is only a means to an end. Our end goal is people’s happiness. So we are utilizing technology innovations in every way possible achieve this goal, by making city services more efficient, seamless, safe and impactful for everyone in Dubai.


What cities does Dubai cooperate with?

We believe that international collaboration is as important to our success as a smart city as local collaboration, and we are working closely with groups such as the International Telecommunications Union of the United Nations, the City Protocol Society and the Smart Cities Council to share our experiences, so that everyone can benefit.

Our impact will span all sectors, and all industries. We cannot achieve our goal by working alone, or in silos. Cross-sector partnerships are essential to our smart city transformation. Working together and learning from each other — across sectors and across boundaries — we will deepen the value of our smart city transformations, and enrich city experiences for everyone. 

Do you have any role model (other city different than Dubai) that inspire you in some way? 

Every time I travel, I am inspired for Dubai. Over the past six months, I have travelled to more than a dozen countries to visit and learn from their transformation experiences, and each time I have learned something new that I have been able to take back with me to Dubai.

I truly think that the spirit of openness, working together, and learning from each other is essential to the success of every smart city initiative. We cannot do this alone: but with the support of our peers, we can accomplish so much more than we ever thought possible. And in the end, it is the people who will benefit.

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