Abu Dhabi AI university's class of 2023 to lead world into high-tech future

A commencement ceremony on Sunday saw 59 students receive their postgraduate degrees

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The latest graduating class of Abu Dhabi's dedicated artificial intelligence university have been urged to help harness the "profound potential" of the advanced technology.

A commencement ceremony for 59 students was held on Sunday by the Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence to celebrate the completion of their Master’s degrees in specialised subjects such as machine learning, computer vision and natural language processing.

It is estimated that AI could contribute $320 billion to the Middle East economy in 2030, with the UAE seeing the greatest gain.

The ceremony was attended by Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed, director of Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, and Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, managing director and group chief executive of Adnoc and chairman of the board of trustees of MBZUAI.

MBZUAI president Eric Xing told the graduates in his speech that the world was seeing a modern-day renaissance fuelled by AI.

Technology to shape society

"You graduate in a time where education and many other industries are to be reshaped by artificial intelligence, the very subject of your study," he said.

"Our current education model centred around memorising and retrieving information often fails to prepare us for real challenges we face.

"And now we must embrace the profound potential of AI and an educational paradigm that focuses on problem-solving.

"Using existing knowledge, and creation of new knowledge, as graduates from the world's first AI university you are uniquely equipped to chart this evolving landscape.

"As you venture into the next stage of your journey, I want to urge you to remain curious, and uphold the virtue of courage, humility, compassion, honour and perseverance."

An international success

The graduating class comes from 25 different countries, including the UAE and China, as well as parts of Africa and the Middle East.

Founded in 2019, the forward-thinking institution currently has more than 200 students with 30.5 per cent of them being women.

Since its opening, professors and students have been able to get work published in 456 journals and conferences around the world.

Jobs of the future

Klea Ziu, 27, from Albania, was the valedictorian of her class and graduated with a Master's in machine learning.

"My area of study is very important because now the UAE, and places abroad, are trying to implement AI in ministries, education and elsewhere," she told The National.

"So, to have knowledge about AI will be very important in the future to secure a job and to build a career."

Ms Ziu said she received "many job offers" but turned them down to pursue her PhD at the university.

Machine learning is a type of AI that "learns from experience". As the software gets new data, over time, the model improves and offers better outcomes.

The technology is transforming many fields such as healthcare, education, transport, entertainment and farming.

Maksym Bekuzarov, 23, from Ukraine, graduated with a Master's in computer vision.

He will spend the summer completing his position as a research assistant at the university and will then move to the UK to start a full-time position as a machine learning engineer at Snapchat, a social media giant.

"It's a great company, and since I did my internship with them, and I know the team that I'll be joining, I'm quite excited," he said.

"I like their approach to work where nobody cares how many hours you spend in the office and how you do something as long as you do it well.

"So, what they value is the results and that's what I like."

He said graduating from an institution like MBZUAI was an "extremely rare opportunity", as he expects AI to develop even more rapidly in the future.

Updated: June 04, 2023, 1:10 PM