In October 2016, Smart Dubai Office, hereinafter SDO, a technology initiative developed by the UAE government and Startup Incubator and Seed Fund 1776, launched the SDO Blockchain Challenge to discover Blockchain startups that can lead Dubai’s Blockchain strategy.

Blockchain-powered region of the UAE

Prior to the launch of SDO Blockchain Challenge, SDO and government officials of Dubai partnered with 1776 with a vision of developing the city into a Blockchain-powered region.

SDO, an initiative anchored in the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, believes that the implementation of Blockchain technology within and outside the realm of finance could greatly benefit the growth of leading industries in the United Arab Emirates.

In an official statement, representatives from 1776 announced:

“Dubai launched a city-wide Blockchain Strategy in October 2016 with the aim of becoming the first Blockchain-powered city by 2020. SDO and 1776 are looking for game-changing applications of Blockchain technology in any industry. Blockchain has the potential to improve people’s lives and Dubai is posed to be a leader in moving such applications forward.”

The government pushes Blockchain ecosystem to grow faster

Since then, 1776 and SDO have collaborated in discovering Blockchain startups focusing on government efficiency, industry creation and thought leadership through the SDO Blockchain Challenge.

The government also worked to provide an ecosystem for Blockchain startups wherein entrepreneurs and developers will be able to connect with industry leaders and high profile investors to support the development of Blockchain technology and their unique technologies.

Startups are eligible to apply until April 13 and during the period of competition, Blockchain startups will benefit from pitch training by mentors and experts at 1776, who have previously helped shape successful startups and corporations in the past.

The governing entity of Dubai is particularly optimistic towards the startup competition and is offering free travel and accommodations to startups and their members throughout the duration of the competition.

Already, Blockchain startups in Dubai have begun to receive various grants and investments from government-owned entities. Hypergive for instance, a solution designed to fight hunger using Blockchain technology, won the 2017 Year of Giving Award at the World Government Summit in Dubai, which was presented by UAE Prime Minister and Rule of Dubai Al Maktoum.

The hub of Blockchain development

Jesse Rodgers, CEO of Volta Labs, startup incubator and partner company of the event, stated that the award represents a win for both Hypergive and UAE, as the country, its government and industry leaders are beginning to consider the potential of Blockchain technology within the region.

"It is our goal for the world to recognize the special community of technology creators that we have in Halifax. We're very happy for the Hypergive team for this win, as it's a big win for our whole region,” said Rodgers.

As previously reported by Cointelegraph in an article entitled “United Arab Emirates Consider to Officially Recognize Bitcoin, Work on Regulatory Framework,” the government of UAE is demonstrating a high level of interest towards Bitcoin and its underlying technology the Blockchain.

Dubai aims to be the hub of Blockchain development in the upcoming years by allowing Blockchain startups to grow within a practical ecosystem.