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UAE’s Artificial Intelligence Strategies and Pursuits
Dr. Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan
30 Ekim 2019 13:40

We are living in the era of digitalization, automation and innovation wherein, Artificial Intelligence (AI) plays a vital role. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the real champion of artificial intelligence (AI) which is indeed re-shaping its economy, governance, society, education, housing sector and services to achieve its desired goals of smart economy and massive industrialization in the country.

AI is a giant step towards massive diversification of UAE’s macro-economy and resources. It enhances productivity and connectivity. It is less time, money and energy consuming, a futuristic approach to do wonders and the UAE is the “land of wonders”. It is indeed a giant leap to achieve miracles through machines.   

UAE’s strategies of the AI are getting prepared its new generation to go/think beyond even Mars. It is a symbol of “perfection” and “easiness”. It is a flagship of future world. It has put UAE on the path of 4th generation industrial revolution.  It is the first country in the region as well as in the world which has a “Ministry of Artificial Intelligence”. Furthermore, the first university of AI will be established and functional in the UAE September 2020. 

Hussain Ebrahim Al Hammadi the UAE minister of Artificial Intelligence says that AI is crucial element of its schooling. He says events like “First Global Challenge” inspire its dynamic youth to lead in all sectors. While attending, the First Global Challenge 2019’ in Dubai he projected the “strategic importance” of the AI to solve real life problems of the UAE education system. It promotes applied sciences with accurate solutions.  

Furthermore, Hussain Ebrahim Al Hammadi said UAE students studying in grades 11 and 12, in schools use to follow the ministry’s curriculum, i.e. “tackle real-life problems with their solutions and innovations” learned through the ‘Creative Design and Innovation’ subject, which teaches AI and related sciences. Over 1500 students from 191 countries are now participating in the ongoing international competition in the UAE to convince judges that their AI powered robot would be the most efficient in cleaning up pollutants from the oceans which has become one of the leading non-state threats for human survival in the world.

Al Hammadi regarded AI as an essential subject, the idea and elements of which have been taught since kindergarten through the ‘Design and Technology’ subject in the UAE. Students use to learn the basics of coding “and start thinking about solving real-life problems which has become one of the leading salient features of its education system throughout the Emirate.

The minister elaborated significance of the UAE education system during the students’ progress through higher grades, the subject continues to “strengthen and deepen” till grade eight. In grades nine and 10, students learn the latest programming language currently Python and complete applied projects as part of the Computer Science subject. During their educational persuasions in 11 and 12 grades student teams use a “holistic approach”, including AI, to solve problems. Al Hammadi proudly added that the UAE has recently launched the Mohammad Bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI), the first graduate level research based AI University in the world on October 16, 2019.

Artificial Intelligence has revolutionized the concepts of connectivity, hospitality, services and industries alike. It is of course a giant step towards achieving dreams of tomorrow. It will facilitate the UAE to materialize dreams of knowledge economy. The Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI) will enable highly skilled Emiratis and expats and others to do their masters and PhD. It will create momentum and industry in the UAE based on the latest technologies Al Hammadi said.

On his part, Abdul Aziz Al Jaziri, Deputy CEO and Chief Operations Officer, “Dubai Future Foundation”, which has organised the challenge in Dubai, said AI is indispensable to the UAE’s future ambitions. The leadership of the UAE believe AI and robotics go hand-in-hand i.e. appointment of Minister of Artificial Intelligence, the UAE Strategy for AI, and even the birth of the Dubai Future Foundation,” Al Jaziri, an Emirati, added. He said it was also essential to involve the youth in the process, including through events such as First Global Challenge.

Applications from around the world are being submitted to MBZUAI. The recruitment process has begun for the world’s very first university dedicated to artificial intelligence in the UAE. More than 3,000 people have started the process to attend The Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence, the world’s first higher education institution dedicated to artificial intelligence which will open for students from September 2020. The university, based in Abu Dhabi’s Masdar City, received the majority of applications from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Egypt, India and China.

Till now, more than 230 eager students have completed applications to attend next year's course less than two weeks after the launch of the university was announced.

MBZUAI carries a unique concept of future human as well as industrial development which will train future leaders in the field while consolidating its role as a world-class force in AI research. It will offer Master of Science and PhD level programs in areas of AI that will be crucial for future career development including machine learning, computer vision and natural language processing.

The university will provide all admitted students a full scholarship, plus benefits such as a monthly allowance, health insurance and accommodation. There will also be partnerships with leading international and local companies to secure internships and help graduates find jobs.

The level of interest in such a short time is a very encouraging sign,” said Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of State and Chairman of the MBZUAI Board of Trustees.

MBZUAI is attracting prospective students from around the world, affirming the UAE leadership’s vision of investing in human potential and enabling societies through knowledge and education to find practical solutions to some of the biggest challenges in the world.” He said the university further established the UAE and Abu Dhabi as a global hub for innovation and higher education. The Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence is an open invitation from Abu Dhabi to the world to unleash AI’s full potential.

MBZUAI is named after Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, who believes in the transformative power of knowledge and scientific thinking.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, a subset of AI, are gaining leaps forward in mimicking human thinking creating the building blocks for automatic systems that can be improved through experience and data. As the technology evolves, applications for autonomous vehicles, robotics, data mining and precision medicine, among others, are taking off and creating lucrative opportunities.

According to business consultancy PwC (2019) AI is expected to add 14 per cent to the world’s gross domestic product by 2030, equivalent to $15.7 trillion (Dh57.7tn). It is expected that AI’s contribution to the UAE economy will match the global increase of 14 per cent the largest GDP share in the Middle East in the same time frame. According to Oxford Insights (2019), the UAE ranks 19th worldwide on the government AI readiness index, first in the GCC/MENA region.

The invention of electricity, the railroad and smartphones all transformed the world. AI can lead to an ever greater societal and economic transformation,” said Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of State and chairman of the MBZUAI board of trustees.

The UAE is among the first nations to see a greater opportunity in AI for its national economy and its associated sub-sectors like, aviation, banking and finances, construction, airlines, hotelier, and last but not least services. In 2017, the UAE government announced an AI strategy, labeled “UAE 2031” which outlined plans to use the smart technology to make its governance more efficient by naming eight diversified but integrated sectors it aims to transform including space, renewable energy, water and education. The UAE also appointed the world’s first Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence.

UAE has now become center of progression and innovations which has put its nation on the “virtual super high way” of the artificial intelligence (AI), which is set to play an important job in the nation’s Centennial 2071 undertaking.

The UAE is positioned as the first in the Arab world to receiving AI in all parts of its daily life. In the previous couple of years, its authorities have been centered on acquainting AI advances with the nation.

The UAE’s Cabinet has already adopted and implemented ‘National Artificial Intelligence Strategy 2031’ which planned for situating the UAE as a worldwide pioneer in AI. The strategy builds up an “integrated framework” that utilizes artificial intelligence in fundamental zones in the UAE. It accomplishes the objectives of UAE Centennial 2071. It supports government execution at all levels. It utilizes an integrated smart digital system that can conquer difficulties and gives snappy effective solutions. It makes the UAE the first in the field of AI investments in different areas. Moreover, it makes a new fundamental market with high economic dividend.

The UAE’s AI strategy incorporates eight goals, including setting up an incubator for AI advancements, the work of AI in customer service, drawing in and preparing AI ability and research capacities and giving a data-driven framework to help AI experiments. It has a complete plan to construct a well-settled UAE brand of artificial intelligence through exercises that make the UAE a test platform for AI innovation, give upgraded services, training and qualification programs.

The UAE’s holistic AI strategy is comprehensive policy which will definitely streamline its diversified but integrated national policies in the nine segments including transport, health, space, sustainable energy, water, innovation, education, environment, and traffic. The strategy additionally means to support government execution in each aspect and taking the nation to another level with respect to the economy and business.

In this connection, UAE’s Ministry of Artificial Intelligence’s primary aims is to put resources into cutting edge innovations and AI tools that will be executed in all fields of work and improve the government’s overall performance. The ministry actualizes laws and enactment that administer AI.

The AI strategy revolves around five themes i.e. the development of the UAE AI Council, workshops, projects, initiatives and field visits to government bodies, create abilities and skills of all staff working in the field of technology and put up training courses for government authorities, give all services through AI and the full integration of AI into security and medical services, launch a leadership strategy and issue an administrative law on the safe utilization of AI. The first stage of the AI strategy usage will concentrate on energy and resources, transportation and logistics, the travel industry and hospitality, healthcare services and cyber security.

According to Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, they have launched a national strategy for artificial intelligence to make it a fundamental part of its business, their lives and its government organizations.

The UAE has become regional leader in smart economy, advance technologies, innovations and futuristic development. Moreover, UAE is ranked as the first in the Arab world when it comes to adopting AI in all aspects of life. In the past few years, its officials have been focused on introducing AI technologies to the country. 

Concluding Remarks

Human civilization has now entered into the zone of “fourth industrial revolution”. Artificial Intelligence (AI) has widened the canvas of human productivity and connectivity. It has scientific means to achieve miracles. It is indeed a gate-way to enter in the world of digitalization, automation and innovation for which the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has become pioneer in the GCC and MENA Region. Now AI replicates UAE, the leader of it.   

To achieve the desired goals of digitalization, automation and innovation, the UAE Cabinet officially approved an ambitious strategy that aimed to help place the country "at the forefront” of global efforts to develop artificial intelligence. It was comprised of eight main objectives, "including reaffirming the UAE's position as a global artificial intelligence (AI) hub, employing AI in customer services and recruiting and training people to work in fields which will be driven by the technology for years to come."

UAE’s AI strategy is the first of its kind in the world which covers the development and application of advanced technologies in nine sectors including transport, health, space, renewable energy, water, technology, education, environment, and traffic. It also aims to boost government performance in every aspect and taking the country to a new level regarding economy and business.

UAE established Ministry of Artificial Intelligence's aiming to invest in advanced technologies and AI tools that would be implemented in all fields of work, and enhance the government's overall performance.

During (2017-2019) the UAE AI Minister announced a "Think AI" initiative which aimed at accelerating "the adoption of artificial intelligence and its uses in various key strategic sectors" in the UAE. Under it, the UAE hosted a series of roundtables, workshops, and panel discussions with the participation of field experts from across the world. It was indeed a gigantic effort to educate its masses about the AI.

The country has now succeeded to incorporate AI technologies and techniques in both its healthcare and education sectors. In Dubai, the Health Authority has already outlined a strategy that uses AI and robotics to largely automate surgeries and other procedures. 

The UAE is now taking serious steps to transform its aviation and public transport sectors using AI techniques. The country's flagship carrier, Emirates, is currently working on developing an AI-powered assistant that will support airline customers from pre-flight to post-flight.

In 2018, the UAE's aviation authority signed an agreement set to explore the use of AI in the country's air traffic management. In that same year, officials at Dubai airport announced plans to launch robots able to detect faces of wanted criminals, as well as report any suspicious person or activity. 

UAE officials also aim to automate a quarter of the country's transport systems by 2030. So people in the Emirates could be flying in air taxis in the next few years. Unmanned taxies have been tested in Dubai which shows UAE’s passion and persuasions towards humanity and human brain dominance over machines.      

According to the Government Artificial Intelligence Readiness Index (2019), the UAE has been ranked top in the Middle East in terms of readiness to adopt AI technologies. According to research conducted by PwC Middle East, the UAE will hugely benefit from the global technology revolution because it has highly invested in AI. The said field is set to contribute the most amount of money to the country and is estimated to contribute almost 14 percent of the national GDP in 2030, which is equivalent to $96 billion (353 billion dirhams.) The annual growth in AI contribution will be 33.5 percent in the UAE between 2018 and 2030.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the climax and coronation of the Internet of Things (“IoT”), virtual personal assistants, smart cars, Google searches, Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Echo. The AI’s first wave was the creation of the internet and the foundation of our online world. The second wave witnessed companies like Google and Facebook build on top of the Internet to create search and social networking capabilities, while apps like Snapchat and Instagram leveraged the smartphone revolution. The third wave consisted of complete transformation in the fields of health, education, transportation, energy, and food. 

In March 2014, the Dubai Government announced the Smart Dubai initiative to make Dubai a leading smart city. AI has been the trigger and the technology behind the facilitation of Smart Dubai. It consisted of smart life, smart economy and smart tourism.

It is clear that the UAE is committed and dedicated to innovation and technology. Mubadala alone was reported to be investing US$15 billion in a technology fund, and with Smart Dubai shifting focus away from the traditional sectors the UAE, with the combination of legal support and push for innovation, is poised to become a hub for innovation.

UAE is a role model nation to adoption of technology. Dubai is at the forefront of adopting innovative technologies. A pioneer in the development of artificial intelligence strategy, Dubai has been ranked first globally in attracting FDI for AI. The city had been successful in attracting more than $21 billion of foreign direct investment (FDI) for artificial intelligence and robotics project from 2015 to 2018. The European Union was the major contributor, with $5.7 billion, followed by the United States with $3.9 billion.

The UAE aims to become the foremost artificial intelligence hub globally, by understanding and promoting the use of the technology.  According to official policies the UAE government is very much working towards accelerating the pace of AI adoption through strategic partnerships with both the public and private sectors.

AI has become game and fate changer in the global economy. It has opened a new window of opportunity to bail out weakening global economy. According to World Economic Forum (2017-18) AI would contribute up to $15.7 trillion to the global economy in 2030, more than the current output of China and India combined. Of this, $6.6 trillion is likely to come from increased productivity and $9.1 trillion is likely to come from benefits to consumers.

In the wake of the fourth industrial revolution, governments and businesses across the Middle East are beginning to realise the shift globally towards AI and advanced technologies. The Middle East is expected to accrue 2 percent of the total global benefits of AI in 2030. This is equivalent to US$320 billion. The largest gains are expected to accrue to Saudi Arabia where AI is expected to contribute over US$135.2 billion in 2030 to its economy, equivalent to 12.4 percent of GDP. In relative terms the UAE is expected to see the largest impact of close to 14 percent of 2030 GDP. The annual growth in the contribution of AI is expected to range between 20-34 percent per year across the region, with the fastest growth in the UAE followed by Saudi Arabia.