UAE gets first-ever Arabic ChatGPT-like bot; now online with free calling app Botim

AI-powered platform will have features like international money transfers, bill payments, e-commerce, government services and weather checks


Angel Tesorero

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Published: Wed 5 Apr 2023, 3:25 PM

A UAE-based company has launched its own Arabic version of the viral AI chatbot ChatGPT — integrated into the free-calling app Botim, consumer technology holding group Astra Tech announced on Wednesday.

The first-ever Arabic chatbot, developed in partnership with Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI), is initially available to a select group of Botim users, promising “a new era of AI-driven solutions in the region”.

Astra Tech said Botim’s Arabic ChatGPT is an AI-powered platform that will cater to all Botim services, ensuring the information provided is always current and accurate by continuously sourcing latest information from local markets.

It will have features like international money transfers, bill payments, e-commerce, government services and weather checks.

Users can input their inquiries into the chat field and the model will process the sentence, providing source URLs (web address) that redirect them to more information about a particular service of interest.

“The platform is under development to expand in the upcoming months to include additional services such as Botim stores and healthcare services, making it the ultimate one-stop-shop for users in the region,” added Astra Tech, which recently acquired Botim, the region’s most widely-used voice-calling platform and the only government-approved app to offer voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) services in the UAE.

‘Simplifying daily life’

Abdallah Abu Sheikh, co-founder and CEO of Astra Tech, said : “Botim’s Arabic ChatGPT marks another significant step towards simplifying people's daily lives and transforming the global tech industry while also enhancing the capabilities of our upcoming ultra app."

“We are very excited to partner with Arabic language modeling experts at MBZUAI to pilot the service on Botim for our select users as we train the model,” he added, noting: “The Middle East is poised to experience a 20 per cent annual growth rate in AI by 2030, and the UAE is set to lead the region with an average annual contribution of nearly 35 per cent.”

Sultan Al Hajji, MBZUAI Vice President of Public Affairs and Alumni Relations, added: “This new collaboration with Astra Tech underscores how the university’s research and subject matter expertise in natural language processing (NLP) is being deployed to address challenges and enable enhanced services for industries and their customers. We welcome further opportunities to align our scientific focus with the UAE and wider region’s vision for innovation in technology and communications.”

What is ChatGPT

Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer or ChatGPT is an AI (artificial intelligence) chatbot that helps automate chat tasks. It can compose poems, write essays, elaborate on product descriptions, provide content and story ideas, and many more.

ChatGPT Challenges

Arabic ChatGPT is a big challenge according to experts because Arabic has a complex inflection system that affects nouns, verbs and adjectives. Inflection is the change in the form of a word (typically the ending) modifying grammatical forms and other attributes such as tense, number, gender, and case.

Another challenge are the Arabic dialects. Although they all come from the same root language and follow the basic writing system, there are some words with syntax and phonetic variations.

AI experts say Arabic ChatGPT “requires an advanced level of linguistic knowledge by developers and researchers to accurately segment and assign relevant features for each text entry”. Otherwise, results will be inaccurate or incomplete.


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