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World's First Artificial Intelligence University to Open in Abu Dhabi

16 Oct 2019

The UAE is rolling out its biggest effort yet to develop a workforce versed in artificial intelligence, as the rapidly-advancing technology transforms economies worldwide.

The Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI), a new graduate-level AI research institution in Abu Dhabi, is accepting applications for its first masters and PhD programmes this month, with classes scheduled to begin in September 2020.

As the first university to have a singular focus on AI, the institution aims to attract students from around the world to advance the technology and propel the UAE’s economic diversification efforts.

To compete with more than a hundred graduate degree programmes in AI – mainly in North America, China and the UK – MBZUAI is offering full scholarships, monthly stipends, health insurance and accommodation to all students.

MBZUAI is named after Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, who believes in the transformative power of knowledge and scientific thinking.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning, a subset of AI, are gaining leaps forward in mimicking human thinking – creating the building blocks for automatic systems that can be improved through experience and data. As the technology evolves, applications for autonomous vehicles, robotics, data mining and precision medicine, among others, are taking off and creating lucrative opportunities.

AI is expected to add 14 per cent to the world’s gross domestic product by 2030, equivalent to $15.7 trillion (Dh57.7tn), according to business consultancy PwC.

Experts estimate that AI’s contribution to the UAE economy will match the global increase of 14 per cent – the largest GDP share in the Middle East – in the same time frame. The country ranks 19th worldwide on the government AI readiness index, first in the region, according to Oxford Insights.

“The invention of electricity, the railroad, smartphones all transformed the world as we knew it. AI can lead to an ever-greater societal and economic transformation,” said Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of State and chairman of the MBZUAI board of trustees.

Talent and academic institutions are essential, he said. “The Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence is an open invitation from Abu Dhabi to the world to unleash AI’s full potential.”
The university was officially launched on Wednesday at its campus in Masdar City.

The UAE was among the first nations to see an opportunity in AI for its economy. In 2017, the government rolled out an AI strategy, dubbed UAE 2031, outlining plans to use the technology to make governance more efficient and naming eight sectors it aims to transform including space, renewable energy, water and education.

The country also appointed the world’s first Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Omar Al Olama. Mr Al Olama was present at the launch on Wednesday, alongside Dr Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Higher Education and Advanced Skills, and Sheikh Mohammad Bin Hamad Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Airports. Mr Al Olama and Dr Al Falasi are also members of the university's advisory board.

Source: The National newspaper website

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Last updated: 17 Oct 2019
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