Technology will always remain a game-changer. An industry will continue to get abated continuously in its own traditional ways for centuries, when out of the blue, a new technology innovation can come and change the very course of conducting or completing tasks. Technology can change the entire concept of human living, can redefine businesses/different industry sectors and offer solutions to complete complex tasks.
It is a challenge to list only the best eight technological events of 2023 in MENA, since there are many. However, our team has burned the midnight oil to collect information and selected the best among the many for your kind reference.
1. Mobile Services for Connectivity
In some parts of South Sudan, reports of non-communication with respect to mobile services were common in remote communities and areas. However, in October 2023, a satellite broadband service provider arm of a UAE-based satellite communication organisation entered into collaboration with a startup from South Sudan to boost the telecommunication sector in the country.
2. Space Technology
In 2023, Iran made a mark in space technology by launching the ‘bio-space capsule’ into space on December 6, 2023. This country has an ambition to send astronauts into orbit within 2029 as part of its “Life in Space” program.
Saudi Arabia has always longed to become a global power in space, and on May 2023, the country made headlines by sending two of its astronauts to the International Space Station. The two astronauts are Ali AlQarni (pilot) and the first Arab woman to become an astronaut, Rayyanah Barnawi (biomedical researcher).
3. Launching of Satellite
If there is a country in MENA that achieved a significant boost in space technology other than Saudi Arabia, it is Kuwait. In January 2023, Kuwait launched its first satellite – KuwaitSat-1, thus giving a significant boost to the country’s space program.
4. Introduction of 5G Mobile Technology in Jordan
Other than South Sudan, Jordan moved towards a remarkable milestone in mobile technology, as in February 2023, a Swedish Telecommunication company and a Jordanian mobile network company collaboratively introduced 5G technology in the country. This marks a significant positive change for businesses as they can streamline and fasten their processes due to excellent speed. The other industries which can get a boost are cloud gaming, healthcare and broadcasting services.
Drone technology is gathering popularity in many industries. However, when it comes to retail, global companies have tried to use drones for delivering goods, but without much success. In the year 2023, the UAE passed regulations regarding the operation of drones in the country. Prominent among them are :
- Drones or any UAV should be below 5 kgs.
- They should be flown only in the approved area and not on private property or within 5 km of UAE airports, helicopter sites & in controlled sites.
6. Türkiye & Syria
Disaster changes human lives for the worse, but it also brings to fore the very best creations in technology. When the 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck North Syria and Türkiye, the month of February in 2023, many human lives were lost and buildings collapsed. Within hours, another earthquake with nearly the same intensity struck once again, causing a huge toll on human lives and causing many to get trapped in the rumble, cutting off communication.
Companies from around the globe vied with one another to provide emergency support to citizens by various means – food packets, medical relief and technology. China & Spain provided drone technology support.
Drone Technology for relief in EarthQuake Areas
This was crucial as the images taken from drones were in the form of 2D and 3D, and provided accurate information on safe areas, dangerous zones and damaged infrastructure. Drones were also used to send small weight items such as medicine and communication equipment to those in need.
The European Union and US joined hands in providing satellite images to rehabilitation teams so that they can identify and save humans and livestock buried under the rumble.
NASA sent its popular tool FINDER (full form – Finding Individuals for Disaster Emergency Response). This tool has the ability to identify body heat beneath 30 feet of rubble with sensors.
7. Earthquake Help Project for providing relief for Earthquake Infected Areas
Two engineers from Turkey, Furkan Kılıç and Eser Özvataf, designed the “Earthquake Help Project” via two social media platforms, Twitter and Discord, to mobilize tech volunteers for creating applications and portals via open-source websites. Affected persons can submit their information on these apps or portals to ask for assistance.
Chatbots to Handle Calls
Calls for relief were pouring in, and volunteers struggled to take the high influx of calls. So, the tech guys devised chatbots that can give the same answers based on the questions 24/7, thereby making the volunteers work in other areas that required human intervention.
8. High Pitch Whistle Application for Earthquake Affected Areas
Though many technologies were used, it was the high-pitched whistle application that received wide acclaim. Companies designed high-pitch applications which were downloaded by the affected population on their mobile. When in need, even if the connectivity was low, they could make the siren give a high-pitched whistle which helped relief volunteers locate them with ease.
The above-mentioned are the top 8 technology events of 2023 in MENA. They had become game-changers in travel, space technology, disaster relief and mobile technology. When reading through the article, were you reminded of other technology events that had gained national and international acclaim at the same time in MENA? True, we have not included the advancement of ChatGPT and the inclusion of AI/ML in various sectors and data analytics. We have also not included health tech, even though it was a standout year for the same. We will try our best to include them in the next article.
Blog by Sathya Narayana B