UAE and France sign AI investment partnership to develop talent and create chips

The collaboration will cover data centres, supercomputers, AI training, cloud, data and start-up investments

Khaldoon Al Mubarak, member of the Abu Dhabi Artificial Intelligence and Advanced Technology Council and group chief executive of Mubadala, and French Minister of Economy Bruno Le Maire at the signing. Photo: Abu Dhabi Media Office
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The UAE and France have teamed up for an artificial intelligence investment partnership that will include developing talent and the creation of semiconductors, in a boost to the Emirates' technology drive.

This collaboration is aimed at enhancing both countries' AI ecosystems, which will be developed and deployed in key sectors, the Abu Dhabi Media Office said in a statement on Wednesday.

The partnership was formalised with the signing of a preliminary agreement between the Abu Dhabi Artificial Intelligence and Advanced Technology Council and France's Ministry of Economy, Finance and Industrial and Digital Sovereignty.

It was signed by Khaldoon Al Mubarak, member of the AIATC and group chief executive of Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company, and Bruno Le Maire, France's Minister of Economy.

The collaboration will cover infrastructure for data centres and supercomputers, AI training, cloud and data, as well as start-up investments and AI applications in key sectors including health, finance, software, retail and industry, the media office said.

During a separate media roundtable announcing a similar partnership with Mubadala, Mr Le Maire said the tie-up between the countries is expected to boost economic co-operation and be a “win-win” for both sides.

Mr Le Maire did not provide any projected figures for investments in the partnership, which was forged “on the basis of the decision taken” by President Sheikh Mohamed and French President Emmanuel Macron.

The UAE and France “share exactly the same view that AI is a game-changer … we want to have more [of the best] scientists, researchers and students on AI” between the UAE and France, said Mr Le Maire.

Skill development will be partly done in the Abu Dhabi campus of France's Sorbonne University, the minister said.

The partnership will also involve the “creation and production of chips” for AI applications, Mr Le Maire said, noting Mubadala's access to the technology through its stake in US-based GlobalFoundries.

The UAE aims to become a global AI leader and hub and continues to tap into new technologies in preparation for the economy and society of the future.

It has pivoted towards partnerships with technology majors from the West and achieved a major deal in April when US technology bellwether Microsoft announced a $1.5 billion investment in Abu Dhabi AI leader G42.

Mubadala, meanwhile, had already revealed plans to make “significant” investments across key geographies and new economy sectors, including in AI, Mr Al Mubarak said at February's Investopia conference in Abu Dhabi.

At that time, he did not disclose Mubadala's expected investments or any partnerships the company might be considering.

In March, Abu Dhabi set up a new technology investment company, MGX, to expedite the development of AI and other advanced technologies, in which, Mubadala and G42 are foundational partners.

France, meanwhile, has also sought to boost its AI expertise, Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness Franck Riester told The National during the World Trade Organisation's 13th Ministerial Conference in Abu Dhabi in February.

Trade between the UAE and France hit €7 billion ($7.6 billion) in 2023 and is expected to increase this year amid the deepening of investment and trade ties between the two countries, he said at the time.

The UAE and France “want to be the example of a fruitful co-operation to make AI a matter of better productivity for growth, better help for people and better life”, Mr Le Maire said on Tuesday.

In February, the countries signed a preliminary agreement to establish the UAE-France Bilateral Climate Investment Platform, to help French and Emirati investors boost investments in clean energy projects, with a particular focus on advancing the decarbonisation of hard-to-abate industries.

Updated: May 22, 2024, 11:00 AM