UAE: Meet 20-year-old college dropout who built Ministry of Education's new AI tutor

ASI is an artificial intelligence-driven tutor providing instant feedback, personalised support, and adaptive learning


Nandini Sircar

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Quddus Pativada
Quddus Pativada

Published: Mon 11 Dec 2023, 4:28 PM

Last updated: Tue 12 Dec 2023, 8:41 AM

UAE resident Quddus Pativada is a college dropout in his twenties, akin to Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and many more who later went on to become multi-millionaires.

The 20-year-old is already the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) a company that has built an artificial intelligence-driven tutor, ASI, that provides instant feedback, personalised support, and adaptive learning. Its goal is to improve homework support and test preparedness for students following the UAE’s national curriculum.

Speaking to Khaleej Times on Monday, on the sidelines of the ‘UAE AI Tutor Hackathon’ that experimentally launched the AI tutor at COP 28, Quddus said, “I am trying to build a company instead of going to the university. So, I dropped out of university and took a gap year. Then we ended up raising about $3 million from investors in the US and here in the UAE. Now this is my full-time work and I want to keep building the company.”

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Quddus founded the company when he was sitting with a bunch of friends a month before he graduated from high school in Dubai.

“We started thinking about how we make learning easier. I was 17 then. We belong to the 'Tik Tok' generation. Our journey began as we explored innovative methods of learning, initially engaging in conversations via FaceTime even before tools like Chat GPT emerged. This motivated us to delve deeper into this field and start developing our solutions. Earlier this year we got the opportunity to work with the UAE Ministry of Education to build a national AI that has significant potential to expedite the learning journey,” said the student, who graduated from Repton Dubai.

“We took all the research that we did to deploy this tool to aid students following the national curriculum. Work that took two hours before now can be done in a few minutes,” said the Indian expat, who moved here when he was seven months old.

He emphasises that the ASI is a system that adopts its students.

Explaining the difference between ASI and other AI tools, Pativada said this AI tutor is educational with a specific focus on grounding curriculum content rather than being broadly generalised. It went through several testing phases with different stakeholders giving his company feedback.

The Ministry facilitates access to pertinent educational materials, curriculum guidelines, and data necessary for aligning the AI Tutor with the UAE's national curriculum.

“The guidelines are fairly simple. It is tested in English and Emirati dialects of Arabic as well. Our goal is to build a tool that outperforms human tools but is provided at a fraction of the cost and is available 24/7. This specific use case makes it more appealing to students. Students end up learning much more from this tool versus a tool like chatting because it's specifically designed to cater to their needs.”

'Like a friend'

Basmla Mohammed Fawzi Alsaid Gebril from Zayed Educational Complex, RAK said, “It was amazing. I was very impressed with the AI tutor. The AI tutor was explaining things to me like a teacher. If they make it a voice chat, it will even be better.”

Narmeen Almarzooqi
Narmeen Almarzooqi

Narmeen Almarzooqi, Computational Systems student at Zayed University said, “It’s better than ChatGPT in certain aspects including the fact it’s so much more personalised. Every time I put in a prompt it gives me information on what I want, even on complex topics. What I really like is that it customises [the answers]. After each prompt, it gives you a follow-up question. So, this tutor is more like a friend.”


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