Abu Dhabi's artificial intelligence university welcomed 42 business and government leaders into its new executive programme on Sunday, as the UAE aims to be at the forefront of AI development.
The 12-week programme at Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI) aims to offer practical training on AI and build connections between the public and private sectors and the scientific community.
Instructors have been brought from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, the University of Oxford and Carnegie Mellon University to teach course content.
“AI is proving to be the single most important economic accelerator of our time and it is central to the UAE's national and economic growth agenda,” Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, managing director and group chief executive of Adnoc and chairman of the MBZUAI Board of Trustees, said at the opening ceremony.
“The MBZUAI Executive Programme was designed to take the latest AI methodologies from the classroom to the workplace, where they can make a practical difference. This is a real-world, tailored programme that focuses on tangible results.”
The programme to train the nation's government undersecretaries and C-suite executives comes amid a broader push to set the national agenda for economic growth over the next 50 years.
Last month, the UAE unveiled its Principles of the 50, which lays out the economic, political and developmental roadmap for the next half century – with massive investment planned to support it.
Emirates Development Bank has allocated Dh5 billion ($1.36bn) to fund projects by Emiratis in emerging and critical sectors. Another Dh5bn from the bank aims to transform industry towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution over a period of five years.
The aim is to add Dh25bn to the country's GDP.
MBZUAI's first cohort will attend seminars on the business, ethical and policymaking dimensions of the AI industry and cover six courses. These include: Machine Learning and the Economy, The Future of Robotics and AI Ethics and Policymaking.
Omar Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Working System and chairman of MBZUAI's advisory board, addressed the first class.
“There is a lot of promise for governments to deploy AI, and you being informed ... is going to be the best way forward for you to shape the future in your organisations and in the government of the UAE,” he said.
MBZUAI president Prof Eric Xing will teach the programme’s first session on the past, present and future of AI and machine learning. The initiative plans to have the UAE's leadership engage with the faculty.
This network has the potential “to make some truly groundbreaking things happen”, he said. The programme is designed to cater to all industries and economic sectors, he added.
Prof Xing will be teaching alongside Sir Michael Brady, professor emeritus at University of Oxford; Prof Daniela Rus, director of MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory; Prof Michael Jordan, the Pehong Chen Distinguished Professor at University of California, Berkeley; and Dr Kai-fu Lee, chairman and chief executive of Sinovation Ventures.