Preparing UAE for the future UAE artificial intelligence university, MBZUAI, will play key role in driving innovation

By Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE Minister of State

With Hazzaa Al Mansoori making our nation’s space exploration debut as the first Emirati astronaut, there has never been a stronger affirmation of the UAE’s pioneering spirit.

Investment in human talent and creativity, coupled with breakthrough technology has been instrumental in achieving the latest UAE milestone, and will continue to build a solid legacy for the country for many years to come.

The late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan laid the foundation of investing in human capital as the real wealth of the nation. This legacy continues through the vision of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE and Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces; His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai; and His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. Their vision for the UAE confirms that knowledge and scientific thinking are central to empowering societal development and achieving a diversified economy.

In line with this vision, Abu Dhabi announced the establishment of the Mohammad Bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI), the first graduate level, research-based artificial intelligence (AI) university in the world. MBZUAI will empower students, businesses, and governments to advance artificial intelligence and use its extraordinary potential as a global force for positive progress.

Establishing MBZUAI aligns with the National Artificial Intelligence Strategy 2031, which establishes AI as a national priority. The UAE is at the forefront of harnessing the power of AI in both the public and private sectors, having appointed the world’s first Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence in 2017.

Through the National Artificial Intelligence Strategy 2031, the UAE government states that the use of AI to streamline processes can yield savings of 50 per cent in annual federal government costs by expediting processes and reducing millions of hours spent to complete paperwork.

Beyond the public sector, numerous industries — such as energy, banking, health care, and telecommunications, to name just a handful — are already embracing AI.

Establishing MBZUAI aligns with the National Artificial Intelligence Strategy 2031, which establishes AI as a national priority. The UAE is at the forefront of harnessing the power of AI in both the public and private sectors, having appointed the world’s first Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence in 2017.
– Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber

While we have set a clear path for applying this emerging technology, we have only scratched the surface of AI’s potential. Independent studies estimate that by 2030, AI could contribute nearly $16 trillion to the global economy. Within the Middle East, the UAE is expected to see the largest impact of AI’s advancement in relative terms — contributing almost 14 per cent of GDP in 2030.

Impact on workforce of tomorrow
In addition to the economic impact, AI will continue to enable humanity to achieve breakthroughs across every aspect of society, from the way that we communicate, to our transportation networks, our health care systems, and more.

While some applications are obvious, like the use of robots in factories, AI has — and will continue to be — integrated into our world in more subtle ways, such as in medical laboratories to help speed up analyses, in customer support chatbots, and even on social media to determine content.

Perhaps most importantly, AI is likely to have a transformative impact on the workforce of tomorrow. We see it as the catalyst to generate better employment opportunities. Experts expect new roles that are more adapted to the new division of labour between humans, machines, and algorithms could emerge globally due to AI-driven transformation.

To ensure that we use AI to transform and create jobs, we need to foster a workforce that is capable of thinking and planning based on the scientific thinking of this new industry. MBZUAI will bring the nation, and Abu Dhabi in particular, one step closer to being a global knowledge leader and a knowledge exporter.

The University is also an opportunity to extend our approach beyond our borders, as an open invitation from Abu Dhabi to the world to unleash AI’s extraordinary potential.

Our goal is to have MBZUAI play a pivotal role in driving innovation, productivity, and growth across the UAE, the wider Middle East region, and globally.

Ultimately, the establishment of the Mohammad Bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence brings all of us one step closer to preparing Abu Dhabi and the UAE for the future.

— Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber is the UAE Minister of State and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Mohammad Bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence

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