With the Dubai government digitising its services in quick time, du has begun to roll out free Wi-Fi services across the UAE to facilitate the transition.
As regional newspaper The National reports, the Dubai-based telecom operator was quick to stress that the 'Wi-Fi UAE' project would not harm its mobile data revenues – one of du's fastest-growing business lines.
Some 200 locations across Dubai are already able to boast free connectivity as part of the project, including the Dubai Tram, Dubai Metro, Knowledge Village, the DIFC, Dubai Media City, Emaar Boulevard, Global Village and du retail outlets.
Osman Sultan, du's chief executive, said that it was not receiving payment from the Dubai government for the service – instead it sees the project as an opportunity to extend the connectivity it is able to offer.
"This is an investment that we are doing as part of our commitment to Smart Dubai," he added.
Sultan also addressed concerns that the project will eat into du's mobile data revenues, confirming that it is likely to turn to advertising as a way of ensuring some return on investment.
He explained that users can either choose to use a free restricted-speed service or opt for a higher-speed premium service, with free users required to watch a video advertisement in exchange for an hour's internet access.
However, Wi-Fi UAE is only available to those with UAE mobile phone numbers, something Sultan claims is holding Dubai back from becoming a "truly smart city".
"There are some approvals we need to get and some processes to put in place, so we don't want to make a pronouncement about when it will go live for everyone, but we're working really hard to make it happen," he explained.
Will the leap to create free Wi-Fi, if it succeeds and works for not only those with UAE mobile phone numbers, open up the chance for other countries to follow suit and inevitably lead to a Wi-Fi free world? Or do we still have far to go before aiming that high?