Through our commercial relationships and also our personal experiences during numerous visits to Dubai, Abu Dhabi etc. the consistent impression we have gained of the United Arab Emirates is of a country of extremes and contradictions. Deeply conservative in many regards, we have nonetheless found it to be highly receptive to new technology. For instance, the UAE are pro zero emissions and fundamentally supportive of innovation. Even though most innovations originate from abroad, the UAE are often among the early adopters. This is a place where taxi drones and Uber helicopters are discussed without any sense of irony – for a country where a litre of petrol still costs less than 0.50 Euros, there are a remarkable number of charging points for Tesla and other electronic vehicles. The Emirates are investing in all kinds of cutting-edge technology under the slogan “UAE innovates”. The economy in Dubai, unlike in Abu Dhabi, is only indirectly dependent on oil and, according to German Trade & Invest, it has been particularly active over recent years when it comes to investment. As the start date for Expo 2020 draws closer, Dubai is steadily increasing these investments. The focus includes transport infrastructure, metro expansion and projects aimed at making this emirate more attractive to visitors.
Against this background, our new e-ambulance attracted lots of attention at Arab Health in January 2019. Arab Health is the largest conference for experts, retailers, manufacturers and institutions in the health sector in the so-called MENA (“Middle East & North Africa”) region and the second largest medical technology trade fair in the world. An e-ambulance on a 5-T chassis is unique, even in Dubai. To create the e-ambulance prototype, we gutted a new vehicle and had it converted by a company that specialises in the electrification of vehicles. This approach was fine for the prototype but, for obvious reasons, cannot be a sustainable business model. Another special feature of an e-ambulance for the Emirates is that we need to install a high-performance air-conditioning system and no heating; something which will demand double the output from the battery. The thermal separation offered by the vehicle body (a separate insulation layer offers additional partitioning between the internal area and the external environment) is a crucial feature for any kind of deployment in hot countries. The Dubai Corporation For Ambulance Services (DCAS), known for its pioneering role in the region, was particularly interested in the innovative e-ambulance even before the trade fair.
Under the leadership of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, Dubai is striving to attract world-class businesses from all areas of the healthcare sector. The use of artificial intelligence and other innovative technologies are being tested for use by the emergency services. One of the initiatives being driven by DCAS is the use of e-ambulances in collaboration with WAS. The organisation is in the process of a six month trial using an environmentally friendly vehicle, with the ultimate goal of exhibiting it at EXPO 2020. So beforehand we arranged for Khalifa Hassan Aldarri, Executive Director of DCAS, to have a test drive and a conversation at our exhibition stand. The test drive impressed this e-mobility expert. He is already planning to use the e-ambulance in the VVIP area at EXPO 2020 in Dubai. In the meantime, we will continue working on the ambulance to ensure it is equipped to handle Dubai’s hot climate.
As part of Arab Health in Dubai, we met the Executive Director of the Dubai Corporation For Ambulance Services, Khalifa Hassan Al Darrai. The aim was not only to introduce him to our e-ambulance, but also to take advantage of the opportunity to ask him about Dubai’s emergency services. See his answers in our interview about the e-ambulance.