Case Study

A decision-making framework for emerging technologies

Public Sector
Business and Technology Strategy
AI, Blockchain, DLT, ML, Quantum Computing


The United Arab Emirates is an innovative place. It has a motivated and young population, unparalleled smartphone diffusion, and a focused and ambitious leadership with a stated desire to be a world leader in technology and innovation. 

The Government of the United Arab Emirates is often approached by the private sector, from large consultancies and enterprises through to early-stage businesses, pitching new concepts and ideas to further its strategic agenda. How then does it prioritise? How does it distinguish the potentially transformative general purpose technologies from the simply “cool”?  

MDRx was asked to assist the Government in producing a rigorous decision-making framework, to ensure its good intentions and deep pockets would continue to make a meaningful impact and produce good stakeholder value. 


MDRx spent several months in 2019 working in the UAE, interviewing and workshopping with senior figures mostly based in the Emirates of Abu Dhabi and Dubai. We settled on a well-articulated mission, vision and purpose for emerging technologies in the UAE, linked to its existing overarching national strategy. This included a close examination of the desired role of the state, i.e. UAE and Emirate government entities, versus the private sector in respect of innovation and technology. 

We engaged in significant knowledge transfer, spotlighting several emerging technologies from artificial intelligence and machine learning (including large language models, natural language processing, and machine vision), blockchain and distributed ledger technologies, quantum computing, reality technologies, drones and 3D printing. 

We provided insights as to established best practices across public and private sectors globally, benchmarking high performing governments and historic successes, from Estonia to Singapore. We also looked at examples of governments getting technology interventions wrong, whether through prohibitive and disproportionately burdensome regulation or otherwise exerting undue influence in the private sector thereby stifling inward investment. 

We created a decision-making framework, which served as a lens through which the Government could assess and evaluate new technology innovations to determine whether, if at all, it should intervene to accelerate or reduce adoption in the Emirates. We ran many technologies through the framework to effectively demonstrate its use and application. It scored highly for example large language artificial intelligence, and the progress made in this space popularised by OpenAI’s ChatGPT is demonstrative of how correct this prediction was. 

We made several strategic recommendations to the Government in respect of its forward-looking technology initiatives, and loudly advocated for a dedicated digital ethics charter that would ensure all projects were responsible as well as compliant. Again, we benchmarked this globally and leveraged our unique relationship with Mishcon de Reya LLP to provide legal and regulatory advice and insights.


  • Mission, vision, purpose: A clearly articulated approach to emerging technologies, linked to and referring back to the national strategy. 
  • Spotlighting emerging technologies: Significant knowledge transfer on a wide range of emerging technologies, from artificial intelligence to quantum computing. 
  • Prioritised focus: A robust decision-making framework that would assist the Government in its funding and activity investments in respect of emerging technologies. 
  • De-risked innovation: A clear understanding of relevant risks, assumptions, issues and dependencies, as well as specialist legal and regulatory advice from The MDR Group. 
  • Global benchmarking: A sense of where the UAE sat in the global technology ecosystem, and an understanding of how our recommendations matched up and compared with jurisdictions globally. 
Government of the United Arab Emirates

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