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Communications of the ACM

Arab World special section: Hot topics

The Strategic Pursuit of Artificial Intelligence in the United Arab Emirates

UAE flag in magnifying glass

Credit: Getty Images

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is expected to mark a paradigm shift in the fabric of our society. To harness the societal and economic benefits of AI and be best prepared for future challenges, it is more important than ever to be strategic about investing in AI. As such, the pursuit of AI in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been unique and visionary in recent years. Here, we provide a high-level overview of key efforts that are significantly contributing to the UAE's strategic pursuit of AI, namely the national vision and strategy, research infrastructure, capacity-building, AI adoption, and cross-sector collaborations.

The UAE government's vision is to make the UAE a world leader in AI by 2031, as per the National Artificial Intelligence Strategy launched in 2017.1 The strategy's objectives include positioning the UAE as a central AI hub in the region and globally, developing capabilities and local talent, and adopting AI in both public and private services to boost performance. The launch of this strategy also coincided with the appointment of the UAE's, and the world's, first Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence HE Omar Sultan Al Olama and the launch of the Emirates Council for Artificial intelligence and Digital Transformation. Several initiatives have also emerged under the leadership of the National Program for AI, which builds and shares resources in the pursuit of the UAE's policy objective to be a global participant in the responsible use of AI2—the motto of the National AI Program is "B.R.A.I.N: Building a Responsible AI Nation." This includes annual AI Everything Summit for Governments and Businesses, the AI Code Hub platform that hosts open source software developed locally in the UAE,4 and an AI retreat that attracted more than 350 AI experts from the public and private sectors.2 As such, the government's visionary approach to investing in AI has become a key driver to AI developments across all sectors in the country.


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