UAE’s AI-powered tree to get new life for charities after COP28; here’s how

The artwork on the screens around the base of the tree guides individuals to navigate to a spot to sign a pledge

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Nandini Sircar

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Photos by M.Sajjad/Khaleej Times
Photos by M.Sajjad/Khaleej Times

Published: Thu 7 Dec 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Thu 7 Dec 2023, 9:38 PM

The Tree of Life at COP28 stands not just as a captivating digital masterpiece, but as a symbol of transformation — a tangible legacy of sustainability.

The creation, driven by artificial intelligence, captivates its attendees not only for its immersive experience but its post-conference metamorphosis, when it will morph into plush bean bags that will be donated for charity.

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The tree, which is located at the heart of the Energy Transition Hub at the Green Zone, symbolises the Ghaf tree — indigenous to the UAE and known for thriving in the harshest conditions.

Speaking to Khaleej Times, the creators of the tree, Farah Ballout, Project Manager, INVNT, said, “The Tree of Life, which is supposed to be the Ghaf tree, symbolizes stability and peace. The tree was made here in the UAE. It has a steel structure that will be melted later on, and the cladding of the tree trunk is made of styrofoam. After COP28 is over it will be deconstructed and converted into bean bags and given to charity.”

Ballout explains certain parts of this tree will be used for future immersive installations.

“The processors housed within the framework will be repurposed for upcoming immersive installations. The big display OLED screens on the tree have a thickness of 10mm. They are see-through which means visitors can see the branches on the other side (of the tree). The software is powered by artificial intelligence (AI) because we use AI to generate various images. The six LED screens at the base have been rented.”

The artwork on the screens around the base of the tree guides individuals to navigate to a spot to sign a pledge.

He highlights, “This has been done because people must commit to discussing the COP28 agendas. Even after the conference is over it will remind people to engage in comprehensive discussions and actions on these issues as visitors can download the digital pledge that appears as an artwork on their phones. Even much later, people can view the vow they made here to address climate change.”

Pledging through art

Participants of the climate conference are taken on an interactive journey that unlocks a novel perspective on global sustainability through unique artwork.

The innovative exploration showcases the key themes and topics of COP28 and encourages participants to pledge their commitment to sustainability through a symbiotic connection with the Tree of Life.

A visitor from Singapore, Lihui, who took the green pledge, said, “This is a very smart initiative, to get people to think about how they can contribute in various spheres around matters related to environmental conservation. Also, the interactive feature helps people to share which country they are from in an innovative way.”

An Australian expat in the UAE said, “I pledged for a greener community. It’s a wonderful installation, adding technology to sustainability."

“In Australia, you can walk outside and be amongst bushlands. I live in Jumeirah 3 here there is a little bit of bushland in people’s gardens rather than arches and trees. But we must remember that outside of Dubai there is a huge amount of natural space. So, even going there is nice because there is a natural energy out there that keeps the mind, body, and soul replenished. Also, we live near a gorgeous ocean. So that’s nice as well,” added the Dubai resident who has been here for 16 years.

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