ChatGPT maker OpenAI teams up with Abu Dhabi's G42 in Middle East expansion push

The companies will collaborate to develop solutions and establish them for specific uses

Peng Xiao, group chief executive of G42, and Sam Altman, co-founder and chief executive of OpenAI, during a signing ceremony for the partnership. Photo: G42
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OpenAI, the maker of the generative artificial intelligence platform ChatGPT, has teamed up with Abu Dhabi cloud and AI company G42 as it seeks to expand its footprint in the Middle East.

The partnership will focus on using OpenAI’s generative AI models in verticals where G42 operates, including financial services, energy, health care and public services, G42 said on Wednesday.

The companies will collaborate to develop solutions and establish them for specific uses, as well as to grow the advancement of generative AI. These solutions aim to simplify the adoption of generative AI services.

The partnership was signed by Sam Altman, co-founder and chief executive of OpenAI, and Peng Xiao, group chief executive of G42, on the sidelines of the Gitex Global technology conference in Dubai on Wednesday.

The collaboration will lay the foundation for “equitable advancements” in generative AI across the globe, Mr Altman said.

“Our partnership with G42 is a significant commitment to further harnessing AI's transformative power. Leveraging G42's industry expertise, we aim to empower businesses and communities with effective solutions that resonate with the nuances of the region,” he said.

The AI industry, long used in businesses and society, was brought forward by the emergence of ChatGPT, created by Microsoft-backed OpenAI.

The praise for the technology, due to its advanced conversational skills, sparked a race between the biggest technology companies and personalities, including Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Oracle and Elon Musk.

Generative AI is expected to hold immense economic potential. GCC countries are expected to reap about $23.5 billion in economic benefits by 2030 as investments in generative AI continue to grow, PwC unit Strategy& Middle East said last month.

The UAE has also been considered to be leading the GCC's “enthusiasm” towards the use of generative AI and its adoption of the emerging technology is standing out on the global stage, a top executive of PwC Middle East said last week.

The Middle East and the Arabic-speaking world present a significant opportunity for generative AI.

Arabic is one of the most widespread languages worldwide – spoken by more than 400 million people, according to WorldData. It is the official language in 22 countries and partly spoken in 11 others.

However, its online presence is minuscule, with only about 1 per cent of content in Arabic.

The UAE has made strides in the industry, having already unveiled major large language models – the underlying algorithm that powers generative AI – to stress its intentions of becoming a leader in the industry.

Abu Dhabi government-backed research centre Technology Innovation Institute launched its Falcon flagship LLM and its advanced iteration to grow generative artificial intelligence capabilities in the region.

Abu Dhabi AI company G42's unit Inception, the Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence and Silicon Valley-based Cerebras Systems launched Jais, an open-source bilingual Arabic-English model.

The TII, the research and applied research unit of Abu Dhabi’s Advanced Technology Research Council, last year launched Noor, which at the time was the world’s largest Arabic natural language processing.

The OpenAI-G42 partnership is positioning AI as a “transformative force for good, fuelling innovation and progress”, Mr Xiao said.

“It transcends technological synergy; it's a convergence of value and vision … to shape a future where AI benefits all of humanity.”

Updated: October 18, 2023, 5:06 PM