UAE's future economy is well positioned to benefit from AI

The momentum of AI development further complicates matters because current privacy and security regulations often do not account for its capabilities

Dr Ebtesam Almazrouei, Director of AI Cross-Center Unit at AI and Digital Science Research Center at Abu Dhabi's Technology Innovation Institute.
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The development of artificial intelligence systems will be a boon for the future economy.

But it needs to keep to legal and ethical standards to prevent its misuse to protect users and organisations, a senior official at Abu Dhabi's Technology Innovation Institute (TII) said.

The momentum of AI development further complicates matters because current privacy and security regulations and standards often do not account for AI capabilities, Ebtesam Almazrouei, director of the TII AI and Digital Science Research Centre's AI cross-centre unit, told The National in an interview.

Protecting data privacy and securing digital data will continue to be a fundamental concern as AI becomes more mainstream, raising legal and ethical questions, she said.

“Building trustworthy AI is a complex, yet worthwhile task … AI solutions will need to be fair and impartial, transparent and explainable, responsible and accountable, safe and secure, privacy-focused, as well as robust and reliable,” said Ms Almazrouei, who is the first Emirati woman to obtain a PhD in AI.

“Thus, it will be incumbent on government, developers, policymakers, data scientists and other experts to identify vulnerabilities and consider innovative and proactive strategies to address them.”

The UAE is pursuing several strategies putting technology to work to support the country as it embraces digitalisation and positions itself as a global hub for innovation.

The government's National Strategy for AI aims to make the Emirates one of the leading nations of the technology by 2031, creating new economic, educational and social opportunities, and generating up to Dh335 billion ($91.2 billion) in additional growth.

The UAE ranks first in the Middle East in the 2021 edition of the Global Innovation Index and is among the top 25 countries in the 2022 Global Talent Competitiveness Index.

As part of the Projects of the 50, the country has earmarked $6.5 billion to boost the skills of young Emiratis and to prepare them for roles in the future economy.

AI is also considered one of the UAE's most important industries over the next 10 years, a May study from the UK-based Institution of Engineering and Technology found.

“The UAE government is committed to encouraging its citizens to get involved in the technology and innovation sectors … multiple policies and initiatives help drive citizen participation in these sectors,” Ms Almazrouei said.

The global AI market is projected to surpass $1.7 trillion in 2030, up from $93.5 billion in 2021, expanding at a compound annual growth rate of more than 38 per cent, data from Grand View Research shows.

This will be driven by continuous research and development, and its application into several economic industries, including manufacturing, finance, health care, retail, the auto sector and government.

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AI solutions will need to be fair and impartial, transparent and explainable, responsible and accountable, safe and secure, privacy-focused, as well as robust and reliable
Ebtesam Almazrouei, director at the Technology Innovation Institute

AI and other emerging technologies will “help us revolutionise [economic and societal] sectors, and in creating innovative privacy solutions, that will go a long way in contributing to the UAE’s national security and economic prosperity”, Ms Almazrouei said.

Globally, however, there is a shortage of talent in the AI industry, she said.

The UAE government is placing an emphasis on teaching advanced sciences and technology and AI has become an integral part of the UAE economy, Ms Almazrouei said.

“Abu Dhabi and the wider UAE are well on track to optimise its digital smart city infrastructure,” she said.

The TII is the applied research arm of the Abu Dhabi government's Advanced Technology Research Council, which oversees technology research in the capital. It has 10 research centres and more than 60 international collaborations in various fields.

Updated: November 21, 2022, 7:10 AM
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