Over 1 million UAE residents will learn how to use AI in 3 years: Minister

Workshops — designed for companies, professionals, and other stakeholders — will be rolled out in a retreat that is set to be 'the world's largest AI-focused practice'

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Nandini Sircar

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Photo: Nandini Sircar / KT
Photo: Nandini Sircar / KT

Published: Tue 11 Jun 2024, 2:42 PM

Last updated: Wed 12 Jun 2024, 12:15 AM

In the next three years, more than one million individuals in the UAE will be able to effectively use artificial intelligence (AI) — that's the target, and so a string of initiatives is being rolled out in phases to achieve that goal, the country's AI minister said on Tuesday.

A campus dedicated to artificial intelligence is one of the key initiatives under the blueprint, said Omar Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy, and Remote Work Applications.


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Designed for companies, professionals, and other stakeholders, this 'campus' or retreat —that has begun operations at the DIFC, is expected to be expanded over time, Al Olama said.


“What you're going to see is the first phase, it is going to expand over the coming period and it's going to become the world's largest AI-focused practice,” the minister said during a talk at the retreat held at the Museum of the Future.

“Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai, announced the ambitious programme to teach a million people how to use these new tools effectively in a very short time frame… in only three years. This retreat is a stepping stone to that."

Sheikh Hamdan earlier revealed the development of a pioneering model for AI-enabled government operations, as part of its broader vision to establish itself as a global leader in innovation.

Dubai's chief AI officers start work

The launch of the AI campus comes on the heels of the appointment of 22 chief AI officers for Dubai government entities.

The officers — who also serve as changemakers that can accelerate AI adoption —assumed office on Tuesday, Al Olama said.

"They will be assuming their duties right after today ... We want to be the number one destination for AI talent, whether it's for engineers, developers or users," he said.

Al Olama said these officers shall go the extra mile to translate the government's vision into reality.

How were they selected?

The chief AI officers are appointed across departments that govern areas such as community development, human resources, customs, policing, and civil aviation.

“Each individual went through a rigorous exercise of understanding the knowledge, the capabilities of deploying this technology, and also what their blind spots were. That’s because we want to ensure that every adviser in every government department is aware, is capable, and is able to make the vision a reality.”

He stressed that investing in the AI sector is not a luxury but a necessity. “Our governments need to make sure that their services, capabilities and their workforce are well adapted and cutting edge."

“In Dubai, we do not believe that we wait for change to happen, we accelerate change," the minister said.

AI can help save lives

The importance of this technology has already been proven in certain sectors. In healthcare, for example, "AI is going to be the core for every doctor, nurse, and in every parameter".

"The future of healthcare is going to be dependent on AI," Al Olama said, citing as an example how the technology could transform emergency response.

“We have examples from the UAE where AI was deployed in ambulances to ensure that the medics are able to understand what is happening in real-time and give critical care to the patient to ensure that they're able to save more lives,” he said.

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