UAE Joins the Race for Generative AI Development

The world is closely watching Artificial Intelligence’s (AI) transformative potential, and the UAE is not taking the back seat. In addition to being a major oil exporter and an economic powerhouse in the Middle East, the UAE invests heavily in AI. The UAE’s strategic investments and innovative approach highlight its ambition and capability in the global AI landscape.

In this insight, we explore the UAE’s contributions to AI, notable investments, and partnerships aligned with the government’s strategic plans to propel AI development. Notably, from the Falcon 2 launching to Abu Dhabi’s G24 partnership with Microsoft, several significant events solidified the UAE’s participation in shaping the future of AI.

UAE AI Strategy

Falcon 2: New Open-Source Generative AI Model

The UAE turned heads by launching Falcon 2, an open-source AI model. Technology Innovation Institute (TII) launched the new series in Abu Dhabi in May 2024i. TII operates under an Abu Dhabi government-backed Advanced Technology Research Council.Reuters reports that the Falcon 2 series joins the global tech race to develop its large language models following the 2022 release of ChatGPT by OpenAI. Falcon’s generative AI model competes with global AI developments, placing the UAE at the forefront of the global AI arena.

While some have opted to keep their AI code proprietary, UAE’s Falcon and Meta’s Llama are open-source. In short, the code is made publicly available for everyone’s use. By making Falcon 2 accessible to all, the UAE encourages innovation and collaboration in the AI community.

Microsoft Invests $1 BN Fund for G24’s AI Development

Abu Dhabi-based G24 received $1 billion fund to boost AI skills in the UAE and the region. The recent partnership between Microsoft and G42 underscores the importance of AI education in the UAE. Both are committed to accelerating access to digital innovation, empowering the UAE workforce with the necessary knowledge and tools to harness the potential of Generative AI. Specifically, Microsoft and G42 are laying the foundation for a thriving AI ecosystem in the UAE, ensuring the workforce is well-equipped to drive innovation and competitiveness in the future of work. 

The importance of democratizing access to transformative technologies cannot be overstated. Microsoft, a leader in AI innovation, collaborates with UAE government entities, educational institutions, and businesses to empower the workforce with AI skills and tools. By offering accessible AI platforms and training programs, Microsoft bridges the skills gap and ensures the widespread distribution of AI benefits.

UAE’s Commitment to AI Development

For certain, the UAE’s commitment to generative AI is evident in its recent launch of The ‘Generative AI’ guide. This is a pioneering guide to encourage the adoption of generative AI technologies, such as ChatGPT, across several key sectors. Moreover, it aims to unlock AI’s potential in various fields, including education, healthcare, and media. 

The guide provides a detailed overview of generative AI, addressing digital technologies’ challenges and opportunities while emphasising data privacy. It specifically designed to assist government agencies and the community leverage AI technologies. In a nutshell, it  demonstrates 100 practical AI use cases for entrepreneurs, students, job seekers, and tech enthusiasts.

AI Adoption in Local Finance and Business Sector

AI is rapidly advancing, significantly impacting various UAE industries by optimizing operations and empowering the workforce. For example, Emirates NBD uses AI-powered chatbots to streamline customer support, freeing employees to tackle more complex tasks. Additionally, AI has enabled the bank to automate routine processes, thus reducing processing times and boosting efficiency.

Department of Water and Electricity (DEWA) has also integrated AI into its operations. The state-owned utility company employs AI-powered drones to monitor and maintain solar panels, reducing the need for manual inspections. Furthermore, DEWA uses AI algorithms to analyze energy consumption patterns, enabling predictive maintenance and resource optimization. Overall, this contributes to Dubai’s sustainability goals.

Meanwhile, in retail, Majid Al Futtaim utilizes AI-powered recommendation engines to offer personalized product suggestions, enhancing customer loyalty and sales. AI also helps the company optimize inventory management and supply chain operations, reducing waste and improving efficiency.

Organisations like Emirates NBD, DEWA, and Majid Al Futtaim have already embraced AI. By investing in AI-powered tools, upskilling their workforce, and fostering a culture of innovation, UAE businesses can unlock new levels of productivity, efficiency, and growth.

AI Opportunities in Abu Dhabi and UAE

Indeed, the UAE is poised to lead the AI-powered future of work, setting a global example in technological innovation and entrepreneurship. The UAE Strategy for Artificial Intelligence aims to boost government performance at all levels by using an integrated intelligent digital system that can overcome challenges and provide quick, efficient solutions. Indeed, this makes the UAE the first in various sectors to invest in AI and creates a new vital market with high economic value.

Notably, Abu Dhabi’s ruling family controls some of the world’s most significant sovereign wealth funds, valued at approximately US$1.5 trillion. These funds, once used to diversify the UAE’s oil wealth, are now pivotal in accelerating growth in AI and other cutting-edge technologies. The UAE is emerging as a key player in producing advanced computer chips essential for training robust AI systems.

According to the Wall Street Journal, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman met with investors, including Sheik Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who manages Abu Dhabi’s major sovereign wealth fund, to discuss a potential US$7 trillion investment aimed at developing an AI chipmaker to compete with Nvidia.

Finally, the path ahead is full of opportunities, and the UAE is poised to lead the AI-powered future of work. Embracing AI technologies will enable UAE businesses to thrive in the digital age, ensuring sustained growth and competitiveness

Setting Up an AI Company in the UAE

With laid-out UAE initiatives supporting AI projects, major cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi are great hubs for incubating AI projects. In fact, Abu Dhabi is home to the Falcon2 model and the recently Microsoft-backed G24 company. It also recorded 28% start-up ecosystem growth.

At NH Management, we help start-ups and tech entrepreneurs leverage investment and open ventures in the UAE. Learn more about the right ecosystems to join, like ADGM or Dubai Silicon Oasis. Reach out to our business advisors via [email protected] and 800 64628. We’ll register your company in your venture’s best jurisdiction and environment.

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