UAE leads world in turning AI, big data into real-life innovations, says minister

Pulling off the most prized technology projects in the country required hiring the right people with strong skillsets, another official says



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by

SM Ayaz Zakir

Published: Wed 25 Jan 2023, 5:26 PM

Last updated: Wed 25 Jan 2023, 8:33 PM

While the world is abuzz with debates on chatbots, robots, and artificial intelligence (AI), the UAE has already shown how today's technologies can shape both everyday life and the future, experts said during a major event in Dubai on Wednesday.

“With the acceptance and usage of new technologies and the density of people residing in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the UAE has positioned itself to be the leader in AI,” said Omar bin Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications.

The country has, in fact, become "masters in building AI applications", thanks to the massive amount of data it manages, Al Olama said during the eighth edition of the Dubai International Project Management Forum (DIPMF).

"Besides, the UAE also offers the best infrastructure in terms of roads and telecommunication networks. Institutions like Dewa and DP World — and many other authorities — have immense data locally. And with the country’s airline networks, we have data that expands worldwide," he explained.

The key to maximising AI's potential, he said, lies in the volume of data, its velocity, as well as its variety — and the UAE can tick all these boxes.

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“The country has a great interest in AI and undertook several initiatives, including the establishment of the Mohamed Bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence, rendering it the first ever university of its kind in the region and the world. Before that, the UAE launched the National Artificial Intelligence Strategy in 2017, which prompted the government sector to innovate in providing public services,” said Olama.

The DIPMF also saw the participation of other experts and futurists like Khalfan Belhoul, CEO of Dubai Future Foundation, who said that no matter how impressive today's technology is, it must be 'balanced out' when applied in real life.

“I am pro-technology as well as pro-well-being. I see how immersed the younger generation in technology is. They are amazingly smart when it comes to sitting in front of screens. Other red flags are rising, like obesity, non-activity, less social skills, and those need to be balanced. We need to pay attention to how our kids need to balance,” Belhoul said.

Space sector

In the UAE, the best technologies are also being used to develop a fast-growing space sector, with historic missions blasting off to the cosmos one after another.

Omran Sharaf, UAE Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for Advanced Science and Technology, and project director of Emirates Mars Mission, said the key to pulling off a prized project like the Hope Probe expedition required recruiting the right people.

“To get to the success of any project, recruiting the right people with a strong skillset is very important, and to top it all, the applicants must be humble and passionate,” said Sharaf, who also serves chairman of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.

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“The first thing one must master at the beginning of a high-risk project is understanding the stakeholders' requirements. I had been advised that our job was not to reach Mars, but to assist and create an impact out of this mission,” Sharaf told the forum.

The DIPMF is held under the patronage of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council. The event was organised by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) in cooperation with Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa), DP World, and Project Management Institute (PMI), under the theme of ‘Fostering Wellbeing.’

The two-day event will highlight international best practices in strategy, innovation, and management that transform how projects create a long-lasting, sustainable impact on society.


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