UAE becomes first nation to appoint a “Minister for Artificial Intelligence”

October 20, 2017

I spend a lot of time working in the Middle East, and particularly in UAE, supporting both private and sector to drive big ideas and impact through innovation. What marks out the nation from others, including those more obvious innovation-obsessed places like North America and Europe, is a passion to be radical, to look forwards, and to shape the future in their own vision.

As part of the UAE Centennial 2071 initiative, Sheikh Mohammed has appointed the first State Minister for Artificial Intelligence

The UAE made a bold move that is perhaps the strongest demonstration of any government’s official endorsement of Artificial Intelligence technology.  This week the Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed announced a new position in the government ministers that focuses on the development of artificial intelligence. The UAE is the first nation with a government minister dedicated to AI.

The official title will be State Minister for Artificial Intelligence, and the activities of the position will coincide with UAE’s 2031 AI Strategy, a comprehensive government effort that will integrate all AI technologies in the society.

The young appointee is 27-year-old Omar Sultan Al-Ulama, who brings his experience as Deputy Director of the Future Department and now Managing Director of the World Government Summit to the position.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum also added that the new phase of governing in the UAE will focus on “future skills, future sciences and future technology, as we prepare for the centenary to ensure a better future for our generations.”

The UAE’s focus on artificial intelligence comes as applications of the technology are expected to make a major impact in the near future. Earlier this year, a study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers estimated that artificial intelligence could potentially contribute $15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2031.

Though the UAE’s Centennial 2071 initiative is quite ambitious, this official restructuring of leadership is undoubtedly laying the foundation for accomplishing the aims set forth. The danger is not in Artificial Intelligence itself, but in countries which take on R&D projects for the technology without putting a solid blueprint in place, in other words, solid integrative approach. The UAE is proving with its recent actions that it can be a model in this domain.


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