9 months in the middle east: An exciting journey through the eyes of a Motee

Now that the year 2017 is over and Friedrich and I are back in Germany, it is just the perfect time to escape the hectic of everyday life and reflect on what happened last year. Looking back at the past 9 months, time seemed to have passed by in the blink of an eye and couldn’t have been more exciting. Meeting inspiring people, talking about amazing ideas, getting to know a completely different culture, on a personal level as well as business-wise, were just a few highlights. But what happened exactly?

Being the newbie isn’t always the easiest life

Earlier this year, specifically in March, Motius made the next big step in its still young history: We opened a new office in Dubai, UAE. The goal was simple: creating a presence in the middle east in order to bring German R&D to the heart of innovation. The realization, however, wasn’t as easy as it may seem.

Dubai is a hot spot for inspiring companies and individuals with diverse cultural and geographical backgrounds that all share one big vision: making the UAE the smartest places in the world! On the one side, such an innovation hub is the perfect ground for the crazy and out of the box ideas Motius is known and respected for.

On the other side, establishing Motius in a new, unknown market with a lot of competing companies, each having great ideas and competences, was a challenge. What are the companies we are looking for? Who are the big players in this region and what drives their innovation? How can we advertise our unique approach to local companies and authorities who are used to order products like they order dishes in a restaurant? These where just a few questions which had to be answered fast.

Soon after our arrival, we noticed something that seems to be a common pattern Dubai. A lot of the innovation and broad strategies for Dubai often are driven by one single source and its surrounding – His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. His vision of a smart city that is leading in fields such as citizen happiness, e-governance, and efficient infrastructure is the fuel that powers dozens of initiatives and city-wide projects – the most prominent initiatives being the EXPO 2020 [1] and the UAE Artificial Intelligence strategy [2], but also several philanthropic projects and initiatives [3].

Screenshot taken from the official site of his Highness and his quotes. (for more see [4])
In order to keep track of those visions and strategies, we had to become real media addicts, reading through numerous web pages, follow more and more Instagram and Twitter accounts, and, of course, read the most important news page Gulf News every morning. There is even an official website for the Sheikh that provides different quotes and information about strategies [4].

However, the most effective way to get exciting meetings was to directly look for promising contact persons over LinkedIn, arrange a time slot and then brainstorm about amazing ideas such as remote but live virtual reality experience, new concepts for interactive and state of the art information visualization for museums, or the digitalization and “smartification” of complete processes within government authorities using A.I.

All this helped us to establish the brand Motius – a versatile and dynamic young R&D company. This we could also show at the WETEX (Water, Energy, Technology, and Environment Exhibition) where we received a lot of positive feedback for our previous projects and company approach. But still, talking about some visions and acquiring real projects are two pairs of shoes.

Finding the right partner can be the crucial factor for success

So we thought how could you better tackle that if not with a strong and established partner who already knows the answers to many of our questions? Knowing exactly whom to talk to and what works best can open doors you never knew exist.

For this reason, Motius and innogy International Middle East have entered a strategic partnership for the GCC region earlier this year in March. Combining innogy’s established consultancy and venture development business and Motius‘ extensive knowledge in developing innovative products with new technologies, this partnership promised to offer the wide range of necessary expertise, innovation, agility, and vision to enable the leap forward in Dubai’s smart offensive.

And what should I say, half a year later it did. At the beginning of September, we kicked-off our first big project with innogy. This partnership enables Dubai to enter the era of Smart Cities as Motius is developing a smart pole for Manarati, a Joint-Venture between innogy IME and DEWA. “The smart poles, that will be produced in the first quarter of 2018, combine multiple innovative features that support smart-city infrastructure according to the highest international standards,” said HE Saeed Al Tayer, managing director and chief executive of DEWA. With features including environmental information, happiness detection, video analytics and more, this innovative solution will allow Dubai to enter the race against other cities, pioneering a model for future urban developments.

Having done a good first year, what will come next?

For sure this is not going to be the only project in this region. Right after the New Years when the dust of rockets and Champaign (ok rather Prosecco 😉 ) had settled, our successors Dominik and Benjamin went to Dubai in order to take over the office and kick-off our next project together with Friedrich and Sara at the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA). This project promises to be just the first of a series of projects around the topic of process automation using latest machine learning and computer vision.


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References

[1] https://expo2020dubai.ae/

[2] http://gulfnews.com/news/uae/government/mohammad-bin-rashid-launches-uae-artificial-intelligence-strategy-1.2106998

[3] http://www.almaktouminitiatives.org/docs/default-source/slider/annual-report-en.pdf?sfvrsn=2

[4] https://sheikhmohammed.ae/en-us

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