Dubai launches beach Wi-Fi portals

Dubai beachgoers can now connect to the internet, as Dubai launches Smart Palm a device that provides a Wi-Fi connection as well as phone-charging docks at the beach.

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (JUNE 04, 2015) (REUTERS) – There’s a new kind of palm tree in Dubai, a man-made one that enables beachgoers to charge their phones and have access free to Wi-Fi.

The Smart Palm, a Dubai based project was launched here on Thursday (June 4), it’s the first of its kind in the Arab world, and its designers say they’ve fused the idea of technology with creativity.

The technological tree was designed and built by D Idea Media Company.

“Today we are inaugurating at this location one of the beaches, the first smart beach. Of course there will be other Smart Palms that we will launched on beaches in several locations in the future,” said Dubai Municipality General Director, Hussain Lootah, at the launch event.

The Smart Palm offers a variety of services to users and it’s powered by the sun’s rays — something that is in plentiful supply here.

”It’s sustainable because it’s powered by solar panels, it provides Wi-Fi network, it offers charging stations for iPads and iPhones, it has information screens that provide information about Dubai, about the weather, all sorts of general information. It also has cameras where you can take a ‘selfie’, and then use the internet through the screens to send your pictures. It is totally smart,” Lootah added.

The Smart Palm also offers an emergency feature with a 360 degree built in CCTV camera and an emergency call button.

The built-in touch screen application offers multilingual applications to cater for Dubai’s different nationalities.

Dubai-based founder and CEO of D Idea, Media Victor Nelepa, is behind the concept, he says he wanted to create something to give back to the Emirate state.

”We live in this city and we feel it as a second home, and this is where we live and we wanted to create something and return it back to this country, because this country did good to us and we wanted to do good to it,” said Nelepa, a Macedonian citizen who has lived in Dubai since 2003.

The six metre palms don’t only have technological advantages, the large structure also offers shade to those using it.

“Palm was the ancient tree, always provided shelter, food, building materials to the people, so we wanted to create something new, modern, but also to have, not to forget where we come from and what the roots are, so just to connect the nature with the technology so we have created Smart Palm which provides a digital data, connectivity, charging the batteries and on and on. So, from the ancient to the modern,” he said.

Thursday’s launch attracted a crowd with many keen to catch a glimpse of what the tree has to offer.

One visitor praised the technology available here.

“Of course we have seen new technology and it makes us happy to see this new technology in an Arab country like Dubai. What they have here they don’t have in European countries,” said Palestinian-Swiss visitor, Ashraf Taha.

So far there are two Smart Palms in the city. The first went into service last month in Zaabeel Park and the second is here, at the public beach near the well-known Burj Al Arab hotel.

According to Lootah, some 80 other Smart Palms will be set up across parks and beaches in the city, part of a larger plan to establish Dubai as a “smart city” in the lead-up to Expo 2020.