UAE's MBZUAI, IBM to advance AI research with new centre of excellence

The collaboration aims to provide real-life applications that seek to further climate and sustainability goals


A Staff Reporter

Published: Thu 26 May 2022, 10:54 AM

Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI), the world’s first graduate, research university dedicated to Artificial Intelligence (AI), has announced plans for a strategic collaboration with IBM.

Senior leaders from both organisations signed a Memorandum of Understanding aimed at advancing fundamental AI research, as well as accelerating the types of scientific breakthroughs that could unlock the potential of AI to help solve some of humanity’s greatest challenges.

The agreement was signed by Sultan Al Hajji, Vice-President for Public Affairs and Alumni Relations at MBZUAI, and Wael Abdoush, general manager, IBM Gulf and Levant.

MBZUAI President, Professor Eric Xing, said: “We’re excited to to be among the first research universities in the Mena region to host a Centre of Excellence for AI research and development with technology and expertise from a world-leading technological giant like IBM. This centre will provide highly valuable resource and collaborative environment to our faculty and students to broaden their work in AI. IBM has a long history of technological innovation, and we look forward to joining their latest efforts in our region and together advance AI technology and commercialization for mutual good."

Saad Toma, general manager, IBM Middle East and Africa, said: “This collaboration will help drive innovations in AI, which is critical for the future of business and society. We’re bringing together some of the brightest minds across both the industry and academia, while reinforcing IBM’s commitment to promoting knowledge and skills in critical areas for the UAE’s development, where the use of technologies like AI is fundamental.”

Central to the collaboration is the establishment of a new AI Centre of Excellence to be based at the university’s Masdar City campus. The centre will leverage the talents of IBM researchers, in collaboration with MBZUAI faculty and students, and will focus on the advancement of both fundamental and applied research objectives.

The initiative seeks to develop, validate and incubate technologies that harness the capabilities of AI to address civic, social and business challenges.

Further, the collaboration aims to provide real-life applications, particularly in the fields of natural language processing, as well as AI applications, that seek to further climate and sustainability goals, and accelerate discoveries in healthcare.


IBM will provide targeted training and technologies as part of the initiative, which supports the university’s vision to be a global leader for advancing AI and its application for the good of society and business.

For example, through the IBM Academic Initiative, IBM will provide MBZUAI students and faculty with access to IBM tools, software, courseware and cloud accounts for teaching, learning, and non-commercial research. In addition, through the IBM Skills Academy program, MBZUAI will have access to curated AI curricula, lectures, labs, industry use cases, design-thinking sessions, and an AI Practitioner certification.

More news from