AI in the UAE: How Will Artificial Intelligence Shape the UAE’s Future?

Midhun Menon P


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    On Twitter, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, announced his plans for the Centennial 2071 project a short time ago. Today, we launched the UAE Centennial 2071 project to establish a five-decade vision and prepare the country for future generations.”

    The Centennial 2071 project aims to make the UAE the best country in the next 50 years, allowing future generations to live happier lives with a better overall environment, more opportunities for growth, and stronger communication links with the rest of the world. The Centennial 2071 project is divided into four parts: the economy, education, government development, and community cohesion.

    Since then, the UAE has increased its emphasis on adopting advanced technologies to advance its society.

    According to a 2019 report on the “Government Artificial Intelligence Readiness Index,” which examined over 190 countries worldwide to determine its rankings, the UAE is also at the top of the Arab world in terms of its readiness to adopt Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies.

    Why is the Government of UAE focusing on AI?

    The UAE Government first announced its Artificial Intelligence Strategy in 2017, indicating the government’s reliance on various future services, sectors, and infrastructure projects that will make use of AI. With this initiative, the UAE aims to be the world leader in AI by 2031 and to expand the use of AI in sectors such as education, energy, transportation, space, and technology, among others.

    The country has established an AI ministry to develop a long-term AI strategy. The ministry has proposed implementing an artificial intelligence curriculum and launching six smart platforms to integrate technology into the education system. These platforms will serve 600 schools, nearly 275,000 students (about half the population of Wyoming), and 21,000 teachers (about the seating capacity of Madison Square Garden).

    Using AI technologies, the UAE hopes to increase its GDP by around 35% ($96 billion (about $300 per person in the US)). By reducing government spending by up to 50%, the country will save up to $3 billion (about $9 per person in the US).

    Ways the UAE is Setting the Standard for AI Technology

    Creating an AI ministry

    The Ministry of AI, established in 2017, will focus on implementing AI tools and technologies in a variety of fields of work. The ministry has launched the “Think AI Initiative,” which aims to create an “integrated system that employs artificial intelligence in critical areas in the UAE.”

    Using AI Technology in Healthcare

    AI has numerous applications in healthcare, particularly in light of the current global pandemic (more on this later). The Dubai Health Authority has announced plans to use artificial intelligence and robotics to automate surgeries and other procedures. The goal here is to reduce the incidence of chronic, dangerous diseases by analyzing data to identify genetic information that would predispose someone to a specific disease.

    AI Technology Integration in Aviation

    The UAE’s aviation authority signed an agreement with Searidge Technologies in 2018 to investigate the use of artificial intelligence in air traffic management. They have also used automated robots to detect the faces of suspected criminals at airports.

    AI Integration in Education

    UAE has recently collaborated with technology firms to integrate its digital education programs into several major schools across the country. The primary goal is to reduce costs while increasing the population’s desire for education.

    Assisting AI startups

    With 78 AI startups registered in Dubai alone (as of April 2020 data), the UAE has been providing extensive support to startups in this field.

    COVID-19 and Artificial Intelligence 

    Al is critical to containing the spread of COVID-19 in the UAE. The UAE government has used artificial intelligence (AI) to limit the movement of Dubai residents through a program called “Oyoon.” This program uses facial, voice, and license plate recognition. Residents who leave their homes must have their permits checked.

    To detect infected patients from a distance, police are using smart helmets equipped with thermal cameras. Robots and drones have also been useful in cleaning streets and dispensing hand sanitizer.



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