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Dubai wants to be global AI hub

by Pieter Werner

Dubai is positioning itself as a global hub for artificial intelligence with an ambitious plan to train one million individuals in AI prompting over the next three years. This initiative, described as the first of its kind worldwide, was announced by Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Dubai Future Foundation (DFF). Speaking at the launch of the ‘One Million AI Prompters’ program, Sheikh Hamdan emphasized Dubai’s commitment to becoming the most future-ready city and leading in technological innovation.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), with Dubai as a prominent emirate, is transitioning from an oil-based economy to an AI-driven powerhouse. By 2031, the UAE aims to generate 40 percent of its gross domestic product through artificial intelligence. The country is investing heavily in this vision, having appointed the world’s first Minister of State for AI, attracting international scientists, and supporting AI startups robustly.

AI prompt engineering, a key component of the ‘One Million AI Prompters’ initiative, is essential for maximizing the capabilities of generative AI models. This skill involves crafting precise and effective instructions for AI systems to achieve desired outcomes in various tasks, including generating creative content and solving complex problems. Omar Al Olama, UAE’s Minister of State for AI, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications, highlighted the broad applicability of AI tools, emphasizing that both technical and non-technical individuals can benefit from mastering prompt engineering.

To mark the launch of the initiative, Dubai hosted the first Global Prompt Engineering Championship, attracting thousands of entries from around 100 countries. Thirty finalists from 13 countries competed in Dubai, with winners including Australian Megan Fowkes for art, Indian Ajay Cyril for coding, and Aditya Nair for literature. The Dubai Centre for Artificial Intelligence (DCAI) awarded one million dirhams (approximately 273,000 US dollars) in prize money to the winners.

Global technology companies recognize the strategic importance of the UAE in the AI sector. Microsoft, Google, and IBM participated in the championship with workshops, underscoring the UAE’s growing role as a key partner in AI development. Microsoft has notably invested $1.5 billion in G42, a leading UAE-based AI technology holding company. This investment aims to enhance the UAE’s position as a global AI hub and foster innovation and growth opportunities for partners and customers.

Since 2019, the UAE has been home to an AI-focused university, and the sovereign wealth fund Mubadala has established a $100 billion AI fund. These efforts illustrate the UAE’s dedication to becoming a leader in artificial intelligence and preparing for a future where AI significantly contributes to its economy.

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