Governments Must Embrace AI, Says UAE AI Minister at Dubai’s AI Retreat

Governments Must Embrace AI, Says UAE AI Minister at Dubai’s AI Retreat

Omar Al Olama, the UAE’s Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy, and Remote Work Applications, has called for global governments to adapt their services and workforces to the cutting-edge advancements in artificial intelligence. Speaking at Dubai’s AI Retreat, held at the Museum of the Future, Al Olama stressed that AI is not merely a luxury but a necessity in the modern world.

“AI is not a luxury, it is a necessity in this day and age,” Al Olama told the audience, which comprised over 1,000 AI experts, policymakers, and industry leaders. He highlighted the pervasive impact of AI, noting that its presence is already significantly shaping various aspects of our lives, even if not everyone fully realizes it.

“Each and every single one of you with your phones out right now, if you’re recording, if you’re texting, and even if you’re just going from point A to point B, AI is playing a role in making that happen,” he said. This remark served as a segue into his emphasis on the importance of AI literacy in both government and the private sector.

Al Olama articulated a vision for Dubai as a hub for AI talent and investment. “We want to ensure that the private sector chooses Dubai to invest in talent, deployment, and to ensure that AI is built out of this city,” he stated. Al Olama, appointed in 2017 as the UAE’s first AI minister, underscored Dubai’s commitment to leading in AI development by humorously pointing out that the last two letters of Dubai are AI: “It’s not a coincidence,” he said. “It’s meant to be.”

The retreat, held under the patronage of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, showcased the objectives of Dubai’s Universal Blueprint for Artificial Intelligence. Announced in April, this blueprint aims to accelerate AI implementation throughout the emirate, bolstering economic growth and positioning Dubai as a leader in AI adoption.

In a significant move to advance this vision, Sheikh Hamdan recently appointed 22 chief AI officers to various government departments, including Dubai Police, Dubai Roads and Transport Authority, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, and the Department of Economy and Tourism. “This move will support Dubai’s journey and expertise, and transform its horizons in developing innovative solutions built on advanced technology,” Sheikh Hamdan posted on social media.

Al Olama provided insights into the selection process for these chief AI officers, emphasizing that they were not simply IT professionals reassigned to new titles. “Each and every single individual went through a rigorous exercise of understanding the knowledge and capabilities of this technology [AI], and also the blind spots of it,” he explained. “We want to ensure that every adviser in every government department is aware, is capable, and is able to make the vision a reality.”

The 2024 AI Retreat highlighted Dubai’s strategic commitment to AI and its determination to integrate advanced technologies into both public and private sectors. As the emirate continues to implement its Universal Blueprint for AI, it seeks to establish itself as a global leader in AI innovation and application, driving economic growth and enhancing the quality of life for its residents.

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