Digitise infrastructure and build a tech-driven Emirate
The Crown Prince of Ras Al Khaimah held a specific vision: to build a technology-driven Emirate, and put technology at the service of the people. He decided to implement state of the art digitisation across the entire government, and wanted to offer this platform to every citizen within three years. A major barrier was the limited digital infrastructure in place, so they would have to build from scratch. Unfortunately, with the acute shortage of local software engineering talent in the UAE, progress stalled, and the deadline started to loom. It was time for them to look elsewhere.
- Location: Ras Al Khaimah (UAE)
- Industry: Government
- Number of employees: 200+
- Partnership since: 2016
Our top priority was to boost the development of our Emirate online infrastructure in time for the Dubai 2020 World Expo. The Scalers were instrumental in allowing us to focus on engineering while they took care of all the red tape and heavy lifting from recruitment to operations.
Building the team
A proposal for the people
To start things off, The Scalers’ leadership team spent a full week in Ras al Khaimah, discussing in minute detail the expectations and visions of over 20 major government stakeholders. They needed an expert team to build a development centre and operate it for 12 months, and then transfer the centre back to the government. One common concern was that locals would lose jobs as RAK offshored development work to their new team. However, the new team would in fact bolster existing governmental resources rather than replace them.
Finding the first 15
The first step was to create custom employer branding to communicate Ras Al Khaimah’s image and mission in Bangalore: eGov Tech Labs. In the first six weeks, The Scalers’ recruitment team interviewed 150 candidates, before hiring 15 talented developers. The sheer scope of the project created complex challenges: from finance to law, civil aviation to education, every department needed to be brought onboard smoothly and quickly.
A different type of profile
After seven months, the recruitment team had procured five permanent support staff for the office, as well as 50 talented, highly driven software engineers. Part of the project was to map the entire Emirate to facilitate a new process of automatic building permit assessment and approval, alongside other government services. To do this, The Scalers also hired eight surveyors who would work in the UAE in collaboration with the software team back in Bangalore. This was outside of the typical usual engineer recruitment requirement, but best-in-class candidates were sourced and the top 1% were hired accordingly.
RAK’s development centre finds a home
The Scalers’ Partner Success team found and organised a 10,000 sqft dedicated office space to house the fast-growing development centre. With a vast and varied array of talent under one roof, comprising of engineers, security specialists, SAP consultants, and even surveyors — the Partner Success manager ensured continual engagement with the project, and prioritised alignment with the vision and mission of the project in the Emirate.
Due to the governmental nature of the project, The Scalers’ team on the ground in Bangalore made sure to implement the highest levels of security, in order to mirror what was present in Ras Al Khaimah. There was also mandatory data security training for all new employees and ‚on-the-ground’ measures such as security guards and electronic access cards issued for all members of staff. The hiring team recruited best-in-class specialist security engineers for RAK to monitor the networks, ensure they were running securely, and to foresee possible security issues that may arise in the future.
Scaling without limits
The ODC expands to 100+
By the end of The Scalers’ involvement, the development centre had scaled rapidly to over 100 people. While the government had previously struggled with the lack of software engineering talent in the Emirate, the Bangalore team met every budget goal, deadline, and milestone on-time. Agile project management allowed the team to facilitate rapid product iteration, produce faster releases, and to integrate feedback from stakeholders at an unprecedented rate.
A world-leading development centre
The initial goal was realised, with technology in the hands of the people. The engineering team developed and delivered innovative products including RAKpay, a cashless system for making payments between private companies and the government. And, the product to assess and approve building permits automatically — an invaluable system for an Emirate in a constant state of new construction. After The Scalers transferred the centre back to the government, RAK turned it into a profit centre, selling its unique solutions to other countries.
Technology in the hands of the people
After thousands of interviews, the establishment of a 10,000 sqft office space, and collaboration with 19 government departments, the end result was a world-class development centre of over 100 engineers. With The Scalers’ expertise, Ras al Khaimah fulfilled its promise: it delivered state-of-the-art software services to its citizens. Now operated by the government, the purpose-built centre will serve the people of the Emirate for decades to come.
Hiring 100+ engineers and support staff
Wholesale digitisation of government services
Establishment of an enterprise-grade profit centre