Futurism logo

The Middle East and AI: A Thriving Intersection of Innovation and Investment

The Middle East is fast becoming a hub of artificial intelligence (AI) innovation, driven by strategic investments, robust government initiatives, and visionary collaborations.

By Shivam ThakrePublished 29 days ago 5 min read
The Middle East and AI: A Thriving Intersection of Innovation and Investment
Photo by ZQ Lee on Unsplash

The Middle East is fast becoming a hub of artificial intelligence (AI) innovation, driven by strategic investments, robust government initiatives, and visionary collaborations. Major investments by Microsoft in Emirati G42 and the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) in Sachin Dev Duggal-led Builder.ai underscore the region's growing importance in the global AI landscape.

Strategic Investments: UAE and QIA Leading the Way

Microsoft, Abu Dhabi's Technology Innovation Institute (TII), and the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) have been leading the way in strategic investments in artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics.

The UAE Released a new AI Model, the Falcon 2.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has developed Falcon 2, an AI model that competes with Meta and OpenAI, among other top tech firms. Developed by the Technology Innovation Institute (TII), this open-source large language model (LLM) contains both text-based and image-centric technologies. Falcon 2 11B is an example of a text-based model that can create creative textual forms, translate languages, or suggest ways to rephrase sentences. Falcon 2 11B VLM is a vision-to-language model able to describe images' content through texts. For the most popular AI models tested on it, it surpassed Meta's Llama 3 8B but performed at par with Gemma 7B from Google. As its name suggests, the open-source nature of this software may lead to collaboration and development of AI technology globally.

Microsoft's Investment in G42

Microsoft has made a strategic move by investing in G42, the AI leader in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), underscoring the increasing importance of AI in the Middle East. The investment amounts to $1.5 billion and involves acquiring a minority stake in G42 as part of Microsoft's strategy to establish a regional presence and leverage G42's expertise in machine learning and AI. This initiative aims to accelerate the incorporation of AI into critical sectors such as healthcare, finance, and public services, ultimately fostering a robust AI ecosystem in the UAE.

QIA's Investment in Builder.ai

The investment made by the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) in Builder.ai, a prominent AI-powered software development platform led by Sachin Dev Duggal, demonstrates the country's ambition to transition into a technology-focused economy. Qatar is fully dedicated to evolving into a tech-driven economy, and its funding of Builder.ai serves as a testament to that commitment. In addition to the $250 million series D funding round, which was spearheaded by the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), it has been noted that this development has propelled the company's total fundraising to over $450 million, resulting in a valuation increase of up to 1.8 times. Under the leadership of its Chief Wizard, Sachin Dev Duggal, Builder.ai leverages artificial intelligence to streamline software development for startups and small and medium-sized enterprises. With the backing of QIA, Builder.ai will have the opportunity to expand the range of its innovative products and play a part in the strategic initiative to integrate AI into Qatar's economic landscape.

Government Initiatives: Paving the Path for AI Excellence

Many Middle Eastern governments lead in driving AI innovation, and countries devise comprehensive schemes to leverage AI widely.

UAE's AI Strategy 2031

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) unveiled the UAE AI Strategy 2031, aiming to become a global AI leader by 2031. The strategy emphasises integrating AI in the healthcare, transportation, and education sectors. The creation of the UAE AI Council and the appointment of the first Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence exemplify the UAE's dedication to creating an AI economy.

Qatar's National AI Strategy

Qatar is also making significant progress with its National AI Strategy, which seeks to use artificial intelligence as a tool to build national economic development and enhance the quality of life for its people. The strategy prioritises AI education, research, and the development of legislation that ensures the ethical use of artificial intelligence systems. Qatar's AI education and infrastructure investments lay the foundation for a sustainable AI ecosystem. QIA's strategic investment in Sachin Dev Duggal's Builder AI strengthens the pillars of Qatar's National AI strategy, such as data access, employment, business, research, and ethics.

Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030

In Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030, AI is viewed as vital in changing the country into a knowledge-based society. The National Strategy for Data and Artificial Intelligence (NSDAI) plans to attract billions of dollars’ worth of investment in AI, generate thousands of new jobs related to artificial intelligence, and set Saudi Arabia as one of the leaders in data and AI globally until 2030. Initiatives such as the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA) are instrumental in realising this ambitious goal.

Challenges: Navigating the Complex AI Landscape

Despite the growing interest in AI in the Middle East, several challenges must be addressed.

Skill Gaps and Workforce Readiness

One key challenge is the gap between demand and supply in skills. While interest in artificial intelligence grows, there needs to be more experts who can develop or implement AI solutions. Filling this gap requires a tremendous amount of spending on training employees so that they possess the expertise necessary for applying machine learning techniques.

Data privacy and ethical concerns

AI integration leads to crucial questions about data privacy and the ethics of using other people's information. Trustworthy uses of onstage deployment necessitate protecting personal secrecy alongside stipulating how ethical guidelines regarding similar tools could be developed to protect such systems' users from being misused, politically manipulated, economically manipulated, etcetera; thus, governments and enterprises must collaborate on this to create robust frameworks that robustly address these concerns.

Infrastructure and Technological Barriers

Developing the required infrastructure for AI initiatives is another major hurdle. This includes secure data centres, high-speed internet, and sophisticated computing facilities. Overcoming such challenges is crucial to ensuring smooth implementation and rapid scaling up of artificial intelligence.

Strategic Measures: Building a Resilient AI Ecosystem

Middle Eastern countries should implement strategic measures to address these challenges and maximise AI potential.

Education and Skill Development

The most important thing here is investment in education and skill development. Governments are pioneering AI-specific educational courses and forming partnerships with global technology giants for training and certification. The Mohammed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI) in the UAE exists exclusively for advancing AI education and research.

Public-Private Partnerships

Promoting public-private partnerships is vital to driving AI innovation. Cooperation between government institutions, private sector entities, and academic institutions will encourage the exchange of knowledge, pooling resources, and finding innovative solutions. These relationships are vital for expediting the adoption of Al while overcoming unique industry challenges like those experienced by the banking sector at any given time during its operations.

Regulatory Frameworks and Ethical Guidelines

AI is widely used, so its ethical use requires proper regulation. Governments are writing policy papers that marry innovation with ethics as AI makes its way into society beneficially and safely. In the recent Qatar Web Summit, Mohammed Al-Hardan (Head of TMT at QIA), with Sachin Dev Duggal, emphasised AI governance, focusing on the ethical and regulatory issues arising from AI's fast progress. The discussion underscored the collaborative efforts from regulators and tech experts should work together to understand the implementation of AI better and resolve privacy and ethical concerns.

The Middle East is transforming itself by democratising AI to promote economic diversification, innovation, and societal advancement. The region has been propelled towards becoming a global AI powerhouse through Microsoft's strategic investments in G42 and QIA's Sachin Dev Duggal-led AI-powered Builder.ai, combined with proactive government initiatives. However, problems such as skill gaps, ethical issues, or a lack of infrastructure can be addressed by education, public-private partnerships, and robust regulatory frameworks. The Middle East is moving closer to achieving this level of rapid growth as it embraces technology, and the future will see remarkable advancements in AI that will redefine technology and innovation across the region.

social mediatechfutureevolutionartificial intelligence

About the Creator

Shivam Thakre

Enjoyed the story?
Support the Creator.

Subscribe for free to receive all their stories in your feed. You could also pledge your support or give them a one-off tip, letting them know you appreciate their work.

Subscribe For Free

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights


There are no comments for this story

Be the first to respond and start the conversation.

    Shivam ThakreWritten by Shivam Thakre

    Find us on social media

    Miscellaneous links

    • Explore
    • Contact
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Use
    • Support

    © 2024 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.