UAE’s push for AI
Rushika Bhatia
10X Technology

UAE’s push for AI

The UAE is one of the first countries in the world to draft its own National Artificial Intelligence Strategy 2031, which aims at positioning the UAE as a global leader in AI by 2031. We take a look at how the country aims to achieve this ambitious goal…

It’s no secret that the UAE government has ambitious plans to become a major hub for developing AI-based tools, technologies and techniques that will help improve productivity and efficiency. While the world is committing investments, the UAE has drafted a smart strategy to become an AI hub — attract and invest in the next generation of talent who will lead the industries in the coming years.

In fact, the UAE has a clear strategy, AI Strategy 2031, and has appointed a Ministry of AI to oversee its goals and objectives. The strategy outlines the need for AI to be deployed across key sectors such as logistics, healthcare, education and so on. The overall objective of UAE’s push towards AI is to transform the UAE economy to become transparent, paperless and automated. The government has also launched several initiatives to improve the lives of its citizens and focus on delivering benefits to citizens and businesses through AI applications.

Factors influencing AI growth in the UAE

- The launch of UAE’s AI university: In a landmark move, the UAE launched the world’s first university of AI called the Mohamed Bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI). This was a clear indication that the UAE is taking major strides to be a leader in the AI space not just within the region, but in the world. By attracting talent from across the globe, the UAE wants to position itself as a knowledge hub and invite anyone that has ideas to develop AI applications. At the time of the launch, His Excellency Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of State and Chairman of the MBZUAI board of trustees, said: “The Mohamed Bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence is an open invitation from Abu Dhabi to the world to unleash AI’s full potential.” Outside of the university, the government has also launched several other support and educational programmes including the UAE AI Camp, the UAE AI Internship Programme, the Think AI initiative and the UAE AI Skills Academy.

- 5G is steering the rise of AI: AI is set to benefit greatly with the rollout of 5G. This is because its processes include learning, reasoning and self-correction which need vast amounts of data quickly. The applications of AI could drastically improve both easy and complex tasks in a variety of fields, including data analysis, healthcare, logistics, and many more. With 5G, the applications of artificial intelligence, such as the performance of certain data-related tasks, will be done much more efficiently and quickly thus improving the automation and application of the other technology.

- Support for AI start-ups: While the UAE has always been an entrepreneurial melting pot with startups across all sectors bringing their ideas to fruition, AI has been an area of special focus for the government. The UAE sees this potential and is supporting a number of startups. Recently, the Abu Dhabi Department of Health signed a memorandum of understanding with, an artificial intelligence company, to develop AI healthcare solutions. Moreover, it also joined hands with Plug and Play to launch a healthcare accelerator in 2020.

- The world’s first AI summit was held in the UAE: The AI Everything event was hosted by the UAE and brought some of the world’s best AI experts under one roof. This reinforced the fact that the UAE is seen as a global testbed for AI innovation and has a strong AI community which provides students, learners, data scientists and enthusiasts an open ground to learn and interact.

Growth in numbers

The numbers support the push for AI growth in the region. Let’s take a look at what the statistics say –

- Almost half of the world’s five-year commitment to investment to AI is by the US ($42.08B), a quarter is by China ($21.28B) and a tenth is by Japan ($9.18), as per data reported from Boston Consultancy Group.

- PwC estimates that AI could contribute $320 billion to the Middle East economy in 2030, which is equivalent to 11% of the GDP.

- PwC also suggests that the UAE could see the greatest gains from AI, which could contribute up to 13.6% GDP by 2030.

- A study conducted by Microsoft and EY, AI Maturity Report in the Middle East and Africa, reports that “the UAE is the second highest investor in AI over the last decade having invested US$2.15 billion.