In late 2019, the Jumeirah Lakes Towers district of Dubai become the first part of the UAE to have a 5G network. The same year also saw the launch of the first 5G-enabled smartphones in the UAE.
With the rapid deployment of 5G mobile telecommunications in the UAE, shopping malls are expected to leverage connected experiences to offer experiential retail, where customers in a physical retail space are offered experiences beyond the traditional ones. These may include AI-powered virtual shopping assistants, location solutions that enable retailers to send offers to shoppers when they are browsing a particular area of the store, leveraging augmented reality to provide virtual fitting rooms and cashier-less checkouts.
With Smart City initiatives like Smart Dubai, the government is aiming to create the ‘cities of tomorrow’ by using data and technology to offer integrated services. The core areas for these smart initiatives are living, environment, mobility, governance, and economy.
The review period saw consistent growth in the use of social media platforms in the UAE. Facebook remains the clear leader in terms of active monthly users, but Instagram – which is owned by Facebook – is rapidly narrowing the gap to it.
Even before the onset of COVID-19, video and music streaming services were already very popular in the UAE, with such platforms as Netflix and Spotify becoming the primary sources of entertainment for many consumers, particularly younger ones. With consumers spending more time at home due to the pandemic, this trend deepened during 2020.
The UAE telecom landscape is composed of only two players, Etisalat and du. In early 2021, both of these entities won internal approval to raise the ownership limit for non-UAE nationals from 20% to 49%.
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