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Saudi Arabia is going through rapid transformation, according to Deemah AlYahya, CEO of Saudi Arabia’s National Digitization Unit (NDU), a government arm mandated to accelerate efforts to achieve Saudi Vision 2030 objectives, an initiative to diversify the kingdom’s economy away from oil dependence. This transformation, Ms. AlYahya said, will require collaboration, open data sharing and injecting innovation into citizens.

Read more: Saudi NDU CEO: 'We want to inject innovation into citizens'

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Professional Communication Corporation Nedaa, the Dubai Government security networks provider, has announced that it has signed an agreement with Nokia formally designating Dubai as the headquarters of their pioneering Innovation and Creativity Lab.

 December 2016, Nedaa and Nokia formed a strategic partnership to develop the lab as a key contributor to Dubai's 'Smart City' initiative envisioned by H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

The region's first-of-its-kind research and innovation hub will introduce creative solutions for education, health, utilities and transport, with local government agencies, the Smart Dubai project, educational and healthcare institutions, and private companies involved in the development and implementation of Smart City applications as primary beneficiaries.

A key stipulation under the Nedaa-Nokia agreement is the Emiratisation of all positions and jobs and the training and qualification of employed UAE Nationals to international standards.

Nokia will also grant Nedaa and approved technology partner Esharah Etisalat Security Solutions access to its advanced radio systems and Intelligent Management Platform for All Connected Things (IMPACT), the company's innovative Internet of Things (IoT) platform.

These and other industry-leading Nokia technologies will be used to create new IoT platforms and applications as well as solutions for next-generation Internet Protocol (IP) and wireless connectivity, security, big data, and analytics.

"Now, we can start following our cooperative roadmap with Nokia to help accelerate Dubai's transformation into a truly Smart City," said Mansoor Bu Osaiba, CEO, Nedaa. "We will be bringing top Emirati talents onboard in keeping with the UAE's vision of empowering its citizens to proactively participate in key sectors such as information and communications technology (ICT) that will underpin country's transition to a Post-Oil Era. We look forward to commencing the lab's operations within the next few months."

Amr El-Leithy, Head of Middle East & Africa, Nokia, said: "After months of scouting we now have a worthy base of operations for our Innovation and Creativity Lab from where we will partner with Nedaa to innovate Dubai's ICT landscape. This latest development takes us several steps closer towards achieving Dubai's dream of an inclusive, connected and technology-empowered society."

Other salient provisions under the Nedaa-Nokia Innovation and Creativity Lab partnership include the training of the Dubai Government's employees and fourth-generation technicians; development, testing and deployment of IoT communications interface operations through approved networks from Nedaa; and the enrichment of national intellectual property through support for research and development.

The highly-anticipated Nedaa-Nokia Innovation and Creativity Lab is scheduled to start operations within the next few months. This will be the right platform for local innovative initiatives and accelerating SME across the UAE.