In April 2023, the UAE’s Artificial Intelligence (AI), Digital Economy, and Remote Work Applications Office launched a guide called ‘100 Practical Applications and Use Cases of Generative AI’, which aims to facilitate AI adoption across vital industries and accelerate research in the field. The guide’s arrival highlights that AI continues to be a priority in the UAE, as reflected by the National Strategy for AI 2031, outlining the country’s vision to become a global leader by the start of the next decade.
The Guide’s description of 100 AI platforms and their use cases – including ChatGPT, Midjourney, Jasper, Talk to Books, and WellSaid – showcases the government’s acknowledgement of the technology’s productive use for various stakeholders and labour market participants, including new businesses, students, teachers, job seekers, and employees.
Notably, the guide summarises key issues that companies should take note of when considering deploying AI solutions in the UAE. The main takeaways regarding the sections covering data protection and Arabic language applications for natural language processing (NLP) are outlined below.
On the importance of protecting data privacy, the guide states the following reasons: (i) protecting individuals’ personal information from being accessed, collected, and used without their knowledge or consent; (ii) keeping sensitive information safe and secure; and (iii) preventing cybercrime. The document acknowledges the importance of protecting individual personal data and providing adequate data processing and storage, as well as organisational transparency regarding data privacy practices and procedures.
The UAE has developed a legal framework governing data protection through onshore and offshore personal data protection laws (PDPL). The country has made significant strides in terms of its federal PDPL – Federal Decree-Law No. 45 of 2021 on Privacy and Data Protection – including allowing cross-border data transfers under certain conditions (the full implementation of the PDPL is currently pending the release of its Executive Regulations). Some gaps remain to be addressed for the UAE to fully protect personal data. Notably, the PDPL does not apply to certain types of data, such as government data, or government authorities’ data processing activities. This in turn affects the government’s protection of personal data in its adoption of AI technologies to enhance public sector services.
Arabic language applications for NLP
The guide acknowledges the limited availability of Arabic language resources and tools in software applications, as well as how this poses an obstacle to programming development in the Arab region. Nevertheless, the UAE is one step ahead in terms of Arabic language applications for NLP. In April 2022, Abu Dhabi released Noor, the world’s largest NLP model for the Arabic language, which was developed at the Technology Innovation Institute (an Abu Dhabi-based technology research centre). The need for Arab language applications for NLP opens the door for investments in Arabic NLP models to support the UAE in boosting its AI industry.
Economic impact and market access opportunities
AI is projected to contribute 14% of the UAE’s national GDP by 2030 (USD 96 billion), and the annual growth in the AI contribution to the economy is forecast to grow by 33.5% between 2018 and 2030. The launch of this guide reinforces the UAE’s goal of becoming a globally recognised pioneer in the tech sector. Commenting on the launch, Omar al-Olama, Minister of State for AI, Digital Economy, and Remote Work Applications, stated that the employment of AI applications ‘in diverse fields, including education, healthcare, and wellbeing, holds tremendous potential for enhancing development, productivity, and driving a transformative shift in various vital sectors’.
The UAE has moved up five places to now rank as the top Arab country in the latest UN Frontier Technology Readiness Index, which evaluates countries on their readiness to adopt advanced technologies such as AI. This ranking reflects the UAE’s preparedness to embrace advanced technologies and is a welcome development for companies looking to deploy their AI-enabled operations and platforms in the country. Furthermore, business leaders in the UAE are increasingly considering AI as crucial for their operational growth.
The UAE’s economic ambitions and proactive efforts to facilitate AI adoption provide a window of opportunity for companies wishing to trial their AI technology in the UAE or introduce it to the market. For instance, small and medium-sized enterprises and start-ups – the country’s growth engine for digitisation – have an opportunity to tap into AI and cloud computing to automate their processes and improve their efficiency. However, moving forward, increased scrutiny of AI technologies and further regulatory development are expected. The EU Data Protection Board’s newly announced ChatGPT taskforce, for example, may have a ripple effect on the UAE’s approach to regulating AI.
Access Partnership is closely monitoring AI and emerging tech developments in the UAE, including upcoming policies and regulations. For more information regarding AI developments or engagements, please contact Dana Ramadan at email@example.com