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|16 January, 2019

Block trade: Ajman to launch $272,000-plus system on blockchain hosting property deeds

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The Emirate of Ajman is one of the seven states constituting the United Arab Emirates. Image used for illustrative purposes

The Emirate of Ajman is one of the seven states constituting the United Arab Emirates. Image used for illustrative purposes

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The emirate of Ajman will next month launch a digital platform based on the blockchain technology to store data related to land and real estate properties, according to its director of digital services.

Dina Fares, the director of digital services in Ajman Digital Government, told Zawya on Tuesday that the system would be used for facilitating and authenticating the buying and selling of properties, and unifying owners’ information.

Speaking in an interview on the sidelines of blockchain conference Unlock in Dubai, Fares said the emirate did not wish to be lagging behind in adopting new technologies, while other emirates such as Dubai are making headway.

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“Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid (Al Maktoum) has announced that Dubai government will go fully on a blockchain platform within two-to-three years. So we felt we need to go and dig deep and understand how we can utilise this technology and the promises that it is bringing to us,” Fares said.

In April 2017, the Dubai government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with IT firm Avanaza Solutions to move ahead with plans to implement a city-wide, blockchain-based payments platform. The deal was part of a wider government strategy aimed at integrating technologies across government institutes, ease government-related procedures and decrease the usage of paper.

Dubai's government has a strategy to become completely paperless by 2021. An announcement on the progress of Dubai’s paperless strategy is due to be made later today.

Fares said the Ajman Digital Government has identified a need to facilitate the process of land sales, as it is usually complicated and takes a long time. “It is a very hectic process, you have to go from one place to another to get the needed paperwork and approvals done.”

She said that putting such information on a decentralised blockchain platform that has the capacity to store and protect large sets of data, such processes would be made easier, allowing the emirate to attract more investors.

The senior government official said she has coordinated with several  related entities in other emirates during the planning and excution phases. She said the project’s cost has reached around 1 million dirhams ($272,294) adding that the amount is not considered big for such an emerging technology with promising benefits.

Asked about the main challenge she faced in the process, Fares said: “Sometimes, technology firms that are telling you that they are selling you blocks, they are selling you replicated data.” 

Fares said she eventually found a trusted company, which she declined to name, adding: “We are going live next month”.

Asked if the UAE has enough tech talent to run and maintain its platform, Fares said: “There are no resources available inside the UAE yet, but there are countries that have those skillsets.” 

She added that the project relied on developers in India and Russia, along with other countries.

“The plan is to add more people to the (blockchain) network. The more people you add to the network, the more value we will see. That is our vision.”

The two-day Unlock conference in Dubai concludes today.

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(Reporting by Yasmine Saleh; Editing by Michael Fahy)

(yasmine.saleh@refinitiv.com)

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