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The Dubai General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs has put out a direct appeal to blockchain startups, as it seeks to overhaul the technology behind its immigration systems.

As the agency looks to cut back on illegal immigration into Dubai, it hopes an international blockchain could help reduce the scale of the problem by as much as 50 percent. Calling on blockchain startups to rise to the challenge, the department looks to have its sights set on a blockchain-based solution.

With funding provided by the Dubai Future Accelerators’ second investment round, the call for a blockchain platform sees the immigration agency join a number of other Dubai authorities looking for solutions that could be provided by a budding blockchain startup.

One of these other agencies is the Department of Economic Development, which has called for automating trade licensing functions, to reduce bureaucracy and reduce processing costs, another viable use for a specifically designed blockchain platform.

Their announcement follows similar moves from the Department for Health, which identified potential blockchain solutions for managing patient health data.

The Accelerator program provides funding for businesses developing prototype solutions, with no equity stake required, to explore new, useful innovations for state functions.

With the help of Dubai-based companies and a number of government agencies, startups work through a nine-week funded development program, with a view to creating viable proof-of-concept systems.

Saif Al-Aleeli of the Dubai Future Foundation said the Accelerator was helping convert ideas into reality, driving forward promising developments for a more efficient infrastructure for the future.

“By bringing innovative global startups together with government entities in Dubai, the program offers them the potential to materialize their ideas and projects in a forward-thinking city, and play their part in building a better future today.”

The interest from the Dubai government comes at a time when major companies, research projects and financial consortia are turning their attention to applications for the distributed ledger, which could revolutionize administration in a range of transactional and commercial scenarios.

By providing automated, secure settlement, the distributed ledger looks set to help Dubai, and governments and organizations more broadly, develop significant new opportunities in 2017.