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Can you get a PhD in AI? Now you can. Right here in UAE

Can you get a PhD in AI? Now you can. Right here in UAE
The launch of Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial intelligence at Masdar City in Abu Dhabi.-Photo by Ryan Lim/Khaleej Times

The country's AI strategy, dubbed UAE 2031, focuses on nine key pillars for the future.

By Vicky Kapur (From the Executive Editor's desk)

Published: Wed 16 Oct 2019, 8:00 PM

Last updated: Thu 17 Oct 2019, 5:34 PM

A national strategy for artificial intelligence? Check. The world's first-ever minister for artificial intelligence? Check. A world-first university for artificial intelligence? Check, as of yesterday. The UAE checks all the boxes when it comes to leading the charge in the world-transforming technology of AI. Yesterday, the country announced the Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI), a new graduate-level AI research institution in Abu Dhabi (applications for its first masters and PhD programmes will be accepted this month), with classes scheduled to commence in September 2020.
There are other universities in the world that do offer graduate-level courses, but MBZUAI is the world's first singularly focused institution to offer a Master's programme and a doctor of philosophy in machine learning, computer vision, and natural language processing. The UAE's leadership clearly understands the tectonic shift that AI will bring about in the way we conduct trade and commerce, learn and teach, work and play. The country's AI strategy, dubbed UAE 2031, focuses on nine key pillars for the future, viz. energy, healthcare, water, environment, space, technology, education, traffic, and transport. The launch of the MBZUAI will not only be a potent shot in the arm for the UAE 2031 strategy, but also be a catalyst to encourage local and international students to equip themselves for the future.
While speaking at the KT Artelligence forum in Dubai last month, the world's first Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Omar Al Olama of the UAE, took the audience hundreds of years back when Arab civilisation was at the helm of scientific and technological advancements. But then, he said, it shunned the printing press for the first 200 years, a move that not only cost it its leadership position but actually pushed it to the tail of the queue. That was yesteryear's revolutionary tech. Today's equivalent technology, the minister said, is AI. This time, the Arab world is not going to play catch-up anymore - this time, clearly, the UAE is ready to not only lead the pack in the adoption and implementation of AI but also in training the world in the science and art of AI.

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