Flying cars, coffee robots, NFT: in Dubai, the operator e& stages the future

Posted Oct 14, 2022 12:11 PMUpdated on Oct 14, 2022 at 5:48 PM

The enormous stand, with its black glass staircase and red neon lights, resembles the nightclubs that are all the rage in Dubai. On the left, a car of the future Batmobile type attracts hordes of Emiratis in their white kandura, the traditional dress for men in the region. On the right, the flying taxi from the Chinese start-up eHang is causing a sensation. The autonomous machine can transport two people in the sky for 35 kilometers… at 130 km/h.

Welcome at Gitex on the stand of e&, the Emirati telecom operator and one of the heavyweights of this show, a sort of “Middle Eastern CES” which attracted 100,000 people from 170 countries this week in Dubai, including 60 French start-ups . With 160 million customers in 16 countries from Morocco to Pakistan to the Ivory Coast, e& is a regional telecom giant in its own right. But it is also the spearhead of the Emirates (which own 60%) to draw a certain vision of the future.

android robot

The operator had invited dozens of start-ups from around the world to its stand. And for good reason: e& wants to become a tech giant, on the model of the Japanese SoftBank, known for its investments in a plethora of start-ups. On the stand, Ameca is all the rage: this blue-eyed gray robot designed by the British company Engineered Arts is so realistic that we are talking about an android robot. Thanks to an exceptional recognition of language, Ameca understands and answers all questions, even the most philosophical or intimate, and makes the audience laugh when he asks if he would make “a good President of the United States”…

Upstairs is a coffee robot that serves espresso and cappuccinos at lightning speed. No more waiting at the checkout. Next to it, an articulated arm made in Korea directly connects the cable to recharge an electric and autonomous car from Chinese PIX Moving. The company provides a basic software and hardware “bedrock”, which allows traditional car manufacturers to focus on the rest… and thus reduce assembly time by 60% in car factories.

In this case, with its walls made entirely of glass, the PIX Moving cart (35 km/h) has a clear future in major tourist sites, national parks or golf courses. “The Emirates has the potential to become the world’s leading market for autonomous vehicles,” they say at PIX Moving. Near the Batmobile, Alba, a start-up from Turin, has understood this well: the company wants to market its small autonomous vehicles from 2023 to transport passengers to airports, starting with the two in Dubai.


But e& also took advantage of the show to show off its in-house innovations. Starting with e & money, a digital wallet that allows you to pay your bills, your purchases in real life, and soon to transfer money internationally, to take out insurance…

A little further on, a huge dummy smartphone takes pictures of the users. Once the e-mail and the name have been entered, the selfie is retrieved in the form of NFTs, these digital “goods” whose ownership is ensured by the blockchain. The user can then keep it, sell it on NFT platforms, or display it on social networks. Because e& also wants to embrace the metaverse: in May, the operator launched its first collection of NFTs, a first for a “telco” in this very tech-savvy region.

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Flying cars, coffee robots, NFT: in Dubai, the operator e& stages the future

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