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Individuals are the unsung heroes shaping the UAE's AI landscape
By Abdulla Ahmed Alkaabi  |  Oct 18, 2023
Individuals are the unsung heroes shaping the UAE's AI landscape
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Decades ago, the UAE embarked on its digital transformation. This cosmopolitan state at the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula is now a global AI powerhouse. Abdulla Ahmed Alkaabi, Senior Director of Technology Consulting at PwC Middle East, shows how foot soldiers achieved this.


“Whoever [leads] the Artificial Intelligence race will lead the future. This technology will change the world.”

UAE Artificial Intelligence Minister Omar Sultan Al Olama

previous post examined the various stakeholders contributing to the United Arab Emirates’ ambitious National Artificial Intelligence Strategy 2031. This one focuses on the individual's role in shaping the ongoing artificial intelligence (AI) revolution.


The UAE is an elective monarchy comprising seven emirates - the capital Abu Dhabi, largest city Dubai, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm Al Quwain. Their respective rulers collectively elect a president - Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan is the incumbent, with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan as vice presidents - from among themselves. The country’s 2013 population was 9.2 million: 1.4 million Emirati citizens and 7.8 million expatriates. This year’s population is roughly 10.2 million. Islam is the state religion, and Arabic the official language. Its location at the southeast corner of the Arabian Peninsula confers both oil wealth and makes the UAE a natural gateway to the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region.

Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid first proposed the idea of wholly-digital governance in the early 2000s, Omar Sultan Al Olama - the UAE’s and the world’s first AI minister - told Israeli media in an interview. This visionary concept was fully consummated when the UAE achieved the status of having the world’s first paperless government in 2021.


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