More than 1,000 students apply for places at world's first artificial intelligence university in Abu Dhabi

Classes are set to commence at the high-tech institute in August

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More than 1,000 students are vying for places at the world's first dedicated artificial intelligence university in Abu Dhabi.

The Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence will swing open its doors in August, with demand high from those eager to be part of the inaugural class of 2020.

The graduate-level institute revealed the bumper number of applicants are currently being put through a stringent vetting process ahead of the landmark opening term.

Masters and PhD courses will be held at the forward-thinking seat of learning, which has cast the net far and wide across the globe in search of top talent.

During the university's first advisory board meeting, Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of State, said the first wave of students would be at the forefront of a new era of innovation in the country.

"I have great confidence that MBZUAI will foster exceptional talent in the field of AI," said Dr Al Jaber.

"These great minds will create a long-term integral ecosystem that introduces a new era of innovation, productivity, and growth across the UAE, the region, and globally."

The board members discussed the importance of developing strong links with relevant industries to ensure the work of students can have a direct impact in the workplace in the years ahead.

"The MBZUAI looks to create a symbiotic relationship between academic research and the industry; thus, espousing a culture of free-flowing ideas between universities and industries. A formula of success," said Professor Sir Michael Brady, interim president of MBZUAI.

The board meeting was also attended by Dr Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Higher Education and Advanced Skills, Sarah Al Amiri, Minister of State for Advanced Sciences, Jassim Al Zaabi, Chairman of the Department of Finance and Peng Xiao, chief executive of AI and cloud computing company Group 42.

Graduate students can apply for places via the university's website.

The first class of graduate students will commence coursework at MBZUAI’s Masdar City campus in August.

The university will provide all admitted students with a full scholarship, plus benefits such as a monthly allowance, health insurance, and accommodation. MBZUAI will work with leading local and global companies to secure internships, and will also assist students in finding employment opportunities.

AI is expected to add 14 per cent to the world’s gross domestic product by 2030, equivalent to $15.7 trillion (Dh57.7tn), according to business consultancy PwC. Experts estimate that AI’s contribution to the UAE economy will match the global increase of 14 per cent – the largest GDP share in the Middle East – in the same time frame.

UAE authorities have long been champions of the rapidly-developing technology.

In 2017, the government rolled out an AI strategy, dubbed UAE 2031, outlining plans to use the technology to make governance more efficient and naming eight sectors it aims to transform including space, renewable energy, water and education.

The country also appointed the world’s first Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Omar Al Olama, in the same year.