Artificial Intelligence & UAE – Initiatives and Steps

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has emerged as a game changer in the global economy. With applications in almost every aspect, ranging from healthcare, governance to education and travel, AI is set out to contribute over $15 trillion to the global economy by 2030. For governments and respective economies, it is a matter of now either embracing this technology or being left behind in the global market. Making sure to stay in the game, a significant investment has been seen for AI in the Middle East.

According to Mr. Narendra Singh, Managing Director, TensaX Innovation Lab, the support of the government in providing funding is the boost needed for AI integration, AI R&D, and establishment/sustenance of AI start-ups. The intensity of AI Research and Development is evident in the establishment of the world’s first AI University, Mohammed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence founded in Abu Dhabi in 2019. As of April 2020, Dubai itself had more than 70 AI start-ups registered. With more AI, automation and robotics based investments, corresponding expansion will also be visible in terms of employment opportunities, with requirements of specialists in the field of data analytics, machine learning, robotics and automation.

UAE, specifically had launched a definitive strategy in 2017 as the National Program for Artificial Intelligence as part of the AI ministry. It developed a roadmap for enhancement of AI applications and Robotics in UAE, targeting to become the world leaders of AI by 2031. The roadmap initially focused on providing an ecosystem for development of AI which centralized on the development of accessibility to local data infrastructure. This initiative, according to the strategy is expected to reduce government expenditure by $3 billion and a boost of $96 billion in the GDP overall.

In 2021, the Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE, His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum paved the way to the Centennial 2071. It is a 50 year project, which focuses on major sectors of: Economy, Education, and Government Development along with Community Cohesion. Based on a 2019 report for Government Artificial Intelligence Readiness (compiled by Oxford Insights and International Development Research Center), UAE has been at the top of the Arab world in its readiness to adopt AI.

Realization of these initiatives requires appropriate detailing of significant aspects and assigning priority to a particular sector is. With growth in the population, climate change and limitations on the availability of farmable land, UAE has faced challenges in food supply! However, taking a step towards self-reliance and food sustainability, UAE is developing a Food Technology Valley in Dubai that applies Artificial Intelligence (AI) and sensor network connectivity through advanced Information Technology (IT) facilities to aid in new food technologies such as vertical farming and indoor farming. Further, AI and IT services have already become an essential part of the food processing and delivery services within different parts of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Ajman.

In addition to this exemplary initiative in Food Technology, definitive steps that have been taken by the government include integrating AI into the education system for digital education programs, setting up of AI Ministry with the Think AI Initiative; further creating significant opportunities for AI in healthcare and AI in aviation.