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UAE and China technology development parallels provide cooperation opportunities

By HE Dr Ali Obaid Al Dhaheri | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2019-11-04 09:09
5G technology is important to the development of intelligent ports. [Photo/VCG]

The UAE and China are making great headway in technology cooperation, and are beginning to share their expertise and discoveries with each other. This week, I was fortunate enough to participate in the official launch of the commercialisation of 5G services, speaking at the ICT China High Level Forum. I delivered a speech outlining the ways in which the UAE is among the most advanced technological nations in the Middle East and North African region.

Consideration was also given to how the UAE's government initiatives have led the way in achieving technological advances; for example, in Artificial Intelligence. In October 2017 our government launched the "UAE Strategy for Artificial Intelligence", targeted towards future services, sectors and infrastructure projects. There is also a UAE Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence.

In space also, the UAE is making great headway. Our nation recently sent the first Emirati to space, Astronaut Hazza Al Mansouri, who orbited the earth in the International Space Station and carried out various experiments. The UAE also aspires to conduct missions to Mars. The Emirates Mars Mission will blast off from Earth during July 2020 and is set to arrive at Mars in 2021 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the founding of the UAE.

When we look at 5G, the UAE has, like China, started the roll-out of 5G this month. Our network operators are scheduled to have up to 1,000 5G-enabled "stations" operational before the year's-end, part of a USD $1billion allocation to update networks in the UAE in time for the 5G roll-out.

The UAE has become the first operator to launch a commercial 5G wireless network in the MENA region and the first in the region to offer a 5G-enabled device to consumers. The country also has the first regional operator to provide 5G coverage inside an airport.

This month the UAE launched the Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence – this is the world's first graduate-level, research-based Artificial Intelligence (AI) university. The extraordinary potential of AI will be unleashed as the university empowers students, businesses and governments.

Through the opening of minds to this expanding sector and the research output from the budding experts and teaching faculty, Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence will provide significant contributions towards AI understanding and development. In this way, the university presents an excellent opportunity for the deepening of UAE-China cooperation in an industry that has already seen China take the lead.

Moreover, the opening of the University comes at an opportune time, as worldwide spending on AI is forecasted to reach $79.2 billion by 2022, in an industry is projected to contribute up to USD$16 trillion to the global economy by 2030. A great technological realignment is underway, with AI making fundamental changes to the way we live and interact with our world. AI will transform ways of working. The new era we are entering into will deliver change to 45 per cent of jobs due to the rise of AI, with new opportunities opening in creativity, the arts, music, content and design. Globally, much of the extraordinary potential for this great technology remains untapped.

The world needs human creativity to come together with AI in order to harness its power and potential. Education, innovation and cooperation are the way forward to do so, and this university will make great headway in bringing these elements together to advance AI.

Students who join will have their university experience shaped by a Board of Trustees with some of the finest minds in international AI development, and this new institution also has strong industry partnerships from around the world. The makeup of this board is reflective of the strong cooperation in AI between the UAE and China.

Trustees include some of the finest AI experts in China. Professor Andrew Chi-Chih Yao is Dean of the Institute for Interdisciplinary Information Sciences at Tsinghua University. An esteemed academic who has produced countless research papers, he has a PhD in Physics from Harvard University (1972), and a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Illinois (1975). Also on the Board of Trustees is Dr. Kai-Fu Lee, Chairman and CEO of Sinovation Ventures and President of Sinovation Venture's Artificial Intelligence Institute. This organisation aims to build labs for AI scientific research and technology application, as well as a base for AI talent development.

With China and the UAE both developing similar economies, they are maturing towards technological advancement at a similar time on their arc. Therefore, there is much opportunity for cooperation across a great many fields.

There is already an exploration to this effect and the foundations are being laid. During President Xi Jinping's July hosting of a State Visit to the People's Republic of China by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, an MOU was signed on Scientific and Technological Cooperation of Artificial Intelligence. This MOU was agreed between the Artificial Intelligence Office at the Prime Minister's Office of the UAE and the Ministry of Science and Technology of China.

The aforementioned 5G roll-out in the UAE is receiving some support from Huawei, who are helping to facilitate this work. Our country also looks forward to future opportunities with China in space and is proud to join the growing family of technologically advanced nations exploring this frontier.

Considering the alignment across a number of areas outlined here and many others, as the UAE and China work ever-closer, our cooperation in technology has ever-more abundant opportunities to strengthen and deepen further.

The author is ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to China.

The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of China Daily and China Daily website.

  
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