UAE government teams up with EY on AI development initiative

11 March 2019 4 min. read

The UAE government is teaming up with EY on a new artificial intelligence think-tank initiative, with the professional services firm set to host a series of roundtables, workshops and panel discussions for more than 100 government, private sector and expert participants.

In an effort to accelerate the adoption of AI technology in the Emirates, the UAE government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the MENA branch of global professional services leader Ernst & Young – which will see over 100 government officials, private sector representatives and local and international experts participate in a series of AI-themed round-tables, workshops and panel discussions to be co-hosted by the firm.

The ‘Think AI’ initiative – to be held at the UAE Government Accelerator at Emirates Towers in Dubai – will include five roundtables in total, focusing on areas such as developing local talent and attracting international expertise in the field of artificial intelligence, education and how to raise awareness and improve acceptance and trust in AI, the necessary infrastructure to support adoption, and issues around governance and legislation.

“The A.I roundtables we will co-host with the Government Accelerators would be the first of its kind in Dubai; with the objective of identifying mechanisms for government, private sector, and tech startups to seamlessly collaborate around the AI agenda,” said EY MENA Advisory Leader Wasim Khan, who attended the MoU signing alongside the UAE Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Omar Sultan Al Olama.UAE government teams up with EY on AI development initiativeKhan, a thirty-year ICT consulting veteran who was appointed to the top advisory role last year, continued; “AI is amongst the most transformative technology of our time with rapid developments across machine learning, data mining, and cognitive computing. Harnessing the power of AI will be a game-changer for both governments and businesses alike. We are excited to be part of this journey.”

Al Olama – who at just 27 became the world’s first ever minister of AI – took the opportunity at the launch event to reiterate the governments’ commitment to accelerating the adoption of AI in both the public and other key sectors in the UAE, such as in areas of infrastructure, governance and legal legislation – with the aim of developing the Emirates into an advanced global hub for the development of artificial intelligence.

In an attendant press release, the global AI industry is pegged to reach an estimated value of $300 billion by the year 2026, a rise of 38 percent over the next seven years. Accenture meanwhile, has projected that the adoption of AI in local production could be worth as much as $182 billion in gross value add to the UAE economy by 2035 – a 1.6 percentage-point boon to its growth rate. A recent report from BCG however found that businesses in the region have been slow act on AI despite high expectations.

Khan notes that, ‘in order to facilitate the rapid development of differentiating prototypes’, the ‘Think AI’ initiative will be supported by EY’s wavespace centre, a network of cutting-edge innovation hubs the firm has been rolling out across the globe as part of a $1 billion investment into new technologies over the next two years, with the centre in Dubai among the now more than 20 current locations established worldwide.

Related: Middle East and UAE businesses should embrace artificial intelligence.