The future of the Middle East is slowly changing with Blockchain technology at the center of this transformation. Just a few weeks ago in late September, The Dubai Department of Finance and the Smart Dubai Office debuted their blockchain-powered payment system, which is geared towards government entities, including the Dubai Police, Roads and Transport Authority and Dubai Health Authority.
The new system aims to offer a more accurate and transparent governance processes while enabling real-time payments within and between government structures, shortening the current process for transactions that can be up to 45 days. Aisha Bin Bishr, Director General at the SDO, said that blockchain is “one of the most promising of [emerging] technologies.” It would seem to me that it is no longer “promising,” rather it is delivering in Dubai and many of its Middle Eastern neighbors.
To the Northwest of Dubai in Kuwait, the Kuwait Finance House (KFH) joined RippleNet, in designing a cross border remittance payment system. KFH is the first Kuwaiti bank to employ blockchain technology in this way. However, KFH is not alone, as the Central Bank of Saudi Arabia joined RippleNet in the recent past while BankDhofar became the first Oman bank to adopt RippleNet. One of the important goals of these financial institutions is to offer their clients in the retail and business sectors easier cross border banking, money transfers and quick payment settlement.
Additionally, Blockchain Technolgoy is gaining a foothold in academic and research expansion. Recently in Turkey, The Innovation Center (BlockchainIST Center) came to fruition at Bahçeşehir University (BAU). The country’s first university-level blockchain center aims to close the blockchain expertise gap and ensure wide deployment of the technology. The hope of the director of this center at BAU, Bora Erdamar is that it will become “the most important center of research and development and innovation in Turkey.” Thus, paving the way towards technological advances in the often theologically controlled academic world of Turkey.
While Internationally, the relations between Cyprus and Turkey are complicated and full of conflict, we can see that these countries irrespective of politics are becoming a center for Blockchain Technology in the world of academia. In addition to the BAU, The University of Nicosia is considered by most measures, one of the leading universities globally in the field of blockchain technology and it now offers a master’s degree in this field. It is our belief that this technology will eventually allow for the mutual academic cooperation between these countries, thus alleviating their conflict and elevating their cooperation.
As we can see from these examples, the Middle East is becoming one of the epicenters of blockchain technology. This fact is important as it points towards the Middle East becoming an interconnected technology center for both business and academia. In the end, future economic development and academic studies will help transform the region from one of conflict into an example of technological based partnership.