Barely a week after global tech companies finished extolling the virtues of artificial intelligence at GITEX in Dubai, the technology has once again come under the spotlight in the U.A.E.
As part of a reshuffle of its cabinet, the U.A.E. has appointed Omar Bin Sultan Al Olama as the country's first Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence. The 27-year-old had previously led the World Government Summit and was Deputy Director of the Future Department.
“We want the U.A.E. to become the world’s most prepared country for artificial intelligence,” said Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the U.A.E and Ruler of Dubai in a press release. He added that the new phase of governing in the U.A.E. 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 appointment comes just days after Sheikh Mohammed announced the launch of the UAE Strategy for Artificial Intelligence as part of the UAE Centennial Plan 2071, a national transformation plan created earlier this year.
Under Al Olama’s direction, the U.A.E.’s artificial intelligence strategy aims to establish the Emirates as a major hub for developing artificial intelligence techniques and legislation, which will help speed up the government’s performance and spur creativity, among other things.
The U.A.E.’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.
One area artificial intelligence already projects to make an impact in the Middle East is in healthcare. An earlier study from PwC reported that 55% of respondents from the region said they were willing to use advanced computer technology or robots with artificial intelligence for their healthcare needs instead of real doctors.
Maybe a Minister of Artificial Intelligence is just what the doctor ordered.