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Series: Join the UAE tech boom – Part 2: Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence

Let’s be clear from the start: the UAE aims to be the world leader in artificial intelligence (AI) by 2031. An ambition that was made concrete with the 2017 launch of its Artificial Intelligence Strategy.

This makes perfect sense in terms of the country’s overall outlook on the future. As it works to reduce its reliance on oil, its focus has shifted to boosting innovation in growth sectors such as tech, green energy, transport, healthcare – all of which will rely on AI in the coming decades.

If you’re a startup in these or any other rapidly-evolving sectors then the above – combined with the UAE’s overall favourable environment for SMEs – should make you sit up and take notice.

Of course, you’re no doubt thinking, it’s all very well to make grandiose statements about AI revolutions and the like. But how is the UAE backing up its ambitions with concrete actions and creating a supportive environment for AI startups? Here are just some of the projects already underway.
  • Smart initiatives: The government has shown its commitment to AI innovation with a series of initiatives. First and foremost, B.R.A.I.N. is the National AI Program to ‘enrich, enhance and enforce government initiatives and programs in all sectors’. Then there is the AI Code Hub initiative, a platform to provide access to open-source AI algorithms to speed up development in the field. But it’s not just government-led: to give an example, Smart City initiatives – such as the Smart Cities Accelerator programme run by Dtec – will also rely heavily on AI as they continue to transform everyday life in the UAE.
  • Leading the conversation: Innovation happens through collaboration. The UAE is fast becoming a global hub for events focused on the growing AI sector, like the ‘AI Everything’ summit, to name just one. Furthermore, the ‘Think AI’ initiative has been running a series of roundtable meetings to develop dialogues and ideas that support the country’s efforts towards AI adoption.
  • Encouraging talent: The biggest AI advances of the future will likely come from the next generation. Recognising this, the UAE government has been putting resources into empowering and encouraging emerging talent. For example, the UAE AI Internship Program, scheduled to run for three years, will see outstanding students selected to receive intensive training for a diploma in Data Engineering and Cloud from Dell. Encouragement of overseas investors in the UAE has also borne fruit for budding developers. Recently, a successful AI algorithm was created by UAE students interning at Lockheed Martin in Masdar City.
  • AI for health: AI has the potential to revolutionise healthcare provision. The ‘UAE AI & Robotics Award for Good’ has been set up to encourage AI applications in three key categories: health, education and social services. The Dubai Health Authority has also announced plans to use AI and robotics to automate surgery and other procedures. All of this is to say, if your interests run to the healthcare sector, the UAE is the place to be.

And for some inspiration, there are already plenty of companies entering the UAE AI market. AlgoDriven, founded in 2017, secured investment from Dtec Ventures in 2019 and has developed a mobile app which car dealerships can use to evaluate used cars. HireHunt, a company that came through the Dtec Smart City Accelerator Programme, helps automate the pre-selection and screening of job candidates. And finally over in the healthcare sector, in 2019 Prognica Labs entered the market with its smart screening solution that analyses medical images to help predict and detect early cancer signs.

AI is not just a fad – it shows us what is possible when the best of human ingenuity is combined with the limitless potential of technology. Forget the dystopian blockbuster movie worldview of machines taking over the planet; AI really can make the world a better place. And your company can be part of it.

That wraps up our second in this series on the UAE tech boom. Stay tuned for the next in the series on electric vehicles. To catch up on all our past content just visit our blog here.