Coding project to prepare programmers for UAE's fast-growing job market

Evaluating coding skills will help the Emirates become digital centre for the region

Omar Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications, says the UAE must be at the forefront of future technology. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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A UAE initiative will assess coders to ensure their computer programming skills match the demands of the market.

The Coders HQ, which was launched in January, will now test the best programmers to ensure their skills are suitable for global companies such as Emirates airline, LinkedIn and Majid Al Futtaim.

It will also help coders to expand their career prospects in programming, which has become one of the fastest-growing private sector industries.

“Each one of us is capable of learning the language [coding] and to develop a system,” said Omar Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications at an event held at the Museum of the Future on Tuesday.

Quote
Each one of us is capable of learning the language [coding] and developing a system
Omar Sultan Al Olama

“But what is missing today is not knowing our level as we compare ourselves to the people around us, not knowing what our needs are when we move from one phase to another and not knowing what the relevant stages are to be among the highest level of programmers.

“Many people speak about their potential in coding but sometimes this is opposite to reality.”

Anyone wishing to be evaluated will be tested, with their skills graded for suitability for programming jobs in the private sector.

Training will be offered to ensure coding skills evolve with changes in technology.

Mr Al Olama said the UAE should become a regional centre for coding, with wider use of the Arabic language in technology, and hoped every public and private sector entity would have a ‘coding ambassador’ to encourage others to learn new skills.

A new partnership with Cisco will put Arabic at the centre of technology developed and launched in the region, he said.

“Evaluation will come first, followed by education. Later, we will give people a chance to implement their skills,” said Mr Al Olama.

“Our belief is that UAE must be the incubator of the future of the technology.

“We should not forget that the UAE, being an Arab country, a country in the Middle East and a major motivator for this technology, made us collaborate with Cisco for this initiative.”

The UAE Artificial Intelligence Office recently launched an AI and coding licence to attract technology companies and coders from around the world.

Coding school 42 Abu Dhabi - in pictures

In partnership with the Dubai International Financial Centre’s Innovation Hub, the project aims to increase the number of tech companies operating in the emirate.

Currently, more than 500 start-ups and tech groups are based at the DIFC hub.

At the launch of Coders HQ, Microsoft said it would host an OpenHack event to encourage people to work with the company on digital solutions and innovation.

OpenHack is a developer-focused event to teach talented coders to learn in challenge-based, real-world scenarios designed to mimic a developer’s journey inside Microsoft.

Participants work together in teams of five to complete challenges that increase in complexity as they progress.

“We strive for meaningful innovation at Microsoft, with products and services that improve lives and have the potential to change the world,” said Tamer Salah, AI country strategy lead for Microsoft.

“For decades, our researchers and engineers have pushed the boundaries of science and technology to inspire others to imagine, and help build a better future.

“With the support of the Ministry of AI, we are bringing back the OpenHack event to the UAE.

“It is a unique way to co-invent with Microsoft and empower local talents within the country to engage with our own experts and developers, to find real-world solutions that challenge through unique, immersive experiences.”

Currently, there are about 63,000 coders in the country, working in computer programming or preparing for a career in industries like FinTech or software development.

In January, the National Programme for Artificial Intelligence announced a series of measures to increase the number of qualified coders in the UAE to reach 100,000 by the end of 2022.

Coding initiatives to boost digital economy

Here are the initiatives that were announced at the event held on Monday:

Setting up an evaluation centre

The centre will classify the skill set of programmers and help them find jobs that best suit their expertise.

Coder HQ Ambassadors

The chosen 'ambassadors' will teach others how to programme, especially among university students. They will be based at Emirates Towers, to propose and implement projects. Candidates can apply at www.ai.gov.ae/chqambsd

Natural Language Processing Challenge

This initiative seeks to form specialised teams of Emiratis who are good at language processing. These teams will be responsible for educating university students who are ready for the job market and will help to create a future talent pool of programmers.

Tanzu Community

The Tanzu Community, launched in collaboration with VMWare, a leading provider of multi-cloud services for all apps, provides programmers with an opportunity to learn more about software technology. The community will hold monthly meetings with those interested with the objective of nurturing future talent.

“Open Hack” Hackathon

The joint project between Microsoft and Coders HQ aims to develop programming teams to work in the private sector, increasing competitiveness which will have a positive effect on the digital economy.

LinkedIn Statistics

This is designed to provide accurate statistics that reflect the current state of programmers in the UAE. With more than 63,000 programmers working across all sectors in the UAE, access to this objective data will improve the decision-making process.

Updated: March 22, 2022, 4:07 PM
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