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Why holistic AI policies are the need of the hour

Countries that are on the path towards becoming the digital leaders of the future will need to come up with a holistic artificial intelligence (AI) policy, says Amir Husain, founder and CEO of SparkCognition.

Speaking at the launch of the company’s office in Dubai, Husain said there are no shortcuts when it comes to AI. “It took many years for the US, which is today considered to be the leader in AI technologies, to come this far. However, we have seen a lot of great steps being taken in the UAE; the opening of an AI Ministry shows that the country is dedicated to its vision. And, we have seen that both Dubai and Abu Dhabi are fully invested in the idea of becoming an AI leader.”

The challenge, he said, right now, is for the UAE to attract the right and best type of talent that is well-versed in AI. “The conversation that is happening right now is whether AI will end up taking 40 per cent of our jobs or 90 per cent. The way forward will require entities to rewrite the social contract. I believe that, in the short term, we will see unemployment as a result of AI adoption.”

SparkCognition’s expansion to Dubai comes shortly after the company announced its official Series B financing of $56.5 million, which confirmed SparkCognition as having raised the most venture capital funding in Central Texas in 2017. With SparkCognition’s 2017 funding, Boeing HorizonX venture arm joined Verizon Ventures, Invenergy, CME Ventures, Brevan Howard and Alameda Ventures, among other investors.

Boeing and SparkCognition have gone on to establish a significant technology partnership solidified by a master agreement between the 2 organisations. Boeing’s strong, established presence in the Middle East and Africa will extend their partnership globally.

“This expansion cements the UAE’s and specifically Dubai’s vision in becoming a leading hub for cutting-edge technology in the field of artificial intelligence,” said Omar bin Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence. “Moreover, the launch complements the UAE’s Strategy for Artificial Intelligence which aims to build global relationships and attract best talents to design a better future for the UAE.”

Bernard Dunn, president of Boeing Middle East, North Africa and Turkey, said: “The UAE has clear goals to be an innovation and technology leader, investing in AI, 3D printing, robotics and autonomous systems. SparkCognition’s cutting-edge artificial intelligence technology and business-critical solutions will prove invaluable to the leaders of the UAE and many others.”

SparkCognition’s AI solutions help customers navigate complex data stores to expose hidden risks, reveal actionable insights and achieve their greatest potential. The company’s technology is deployed across a variety of industries.

APPs, chatbots and AI are set to play key role in future healthcare system

Artificial intelligence (AI) has made significant strides in various industries in recent years, however, it is still a very long way away from replacing human doctors in hospitals and clinics, experts at a conference noted.

Speaking at the inaugural edition of the ‘Annual International Conference on Role of Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare and Medical Education’, Dr Bassam Mahboub of the Dubai Health Authority, said that the roadmap of future healthcare is a system that is a mix of mobile applications, chatbots, and smart computer analytics that will provide patients with their diagnosis.

“This will significantly cut down on patient wait times,” he said. “However, if the system fails to reach a solution, then it will immediately put the patient in contact with the doctor that is best suited to treating them. When you look at technologies such as IBM Watson, then you realise that there are great AI systems already out there that are being refined, but through all of this it is important to keep the human touch present. The future, as I see it, is not going to be doctors versus AI, but it is going to be augmented intelligence where doctors will use AI to help provide patients with the best care possible.”

Organised by Thumbay Technologies, the event brought together more than 300 leaders and experts from healthcare, academic, and artificial intelligence industries. The event shed light on new and emerging practices, and the role that AI technologies can play in providing better universal healthcare to patients in a more immediate and effective manner.

Hamish Clark, partner, consulting-health industries at PwC, noted that current healthcare is very hospital-centric, but that this will change in the future. “Our research showed that around 62 per cent of business leaders feel that AI and robotics will have an impact on healthcare. It is also very encouraging for us to see the focus that the UAE has on innovative technologies that will impact various industries. The UAE has an opportunity to be a leading research hub for AI and its effects on healthcare. We need to get companies to encourage innovation, and think strategically. There is also a greater need for collaboration and partnerships between different specialised players in this sphere.”

Dnata to acquire Qantas’ catering businesses

Dnata on Wednesday announced that it has signed an agreement to acquire Qantas’ catering businesses.

In a statement, the Dubai-based global air services provider said the agreement is subject to approval from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Qantas’ catering businesses include wholly-owned subsidiaries Q Catering Limited and Snap Fresh Pty Limited. Q Catering has centres in 4 Australian ports – Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, with its largest airline customer being Qantas.

Snap Fresh is a state-of-the-art meal production plant in Queensland, specialising in Australian-made frozen meals for airlines and customers in the healthcare and food retail industries.

Smart Dubai chooses Du to deliver smart infrastructure

Smart Dubai, an initiative to transform Dubai into the world’s smartest and happiest city, has appointed Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Co (Du), the UAE’s second telecom operator, to build the soft infrastructure for realising the goal.

“We are proud to be appointed by Smart Dubai to help develop the infrastructure to build the smartest city in the world and we have started working on this exciting project,” Osman Sultan, CEO of du, made the announcement at the Future Cities Show taking place at the World Trade Centre along with the Annual Investment Meeting (AIM).

Sultan said the UAE’s futuristic and visionary leadership has launched the Ministry of Happiness and Ministry of Artificial Intelligence. “We are working on a Smart City model that will incorporate all of these.”

One of the main pillars of the Smart Dubai strategy is interconnectedness. Dubai is already a highly connected society as residents use online services and social media quite actively. Smart Dubai seeks to address the majority of residents’ everyday needs through digital services rather than traditional ones, thus making their lives easier and happier. This includes healthcare, education, culture, housing, entertainment, community and volunteering services among others.

“The world is moving too fast and we need to keep up pace with the fast transformation. It took the global airline industry 68 years to reach 50 million users. Now it takes months and days for companies to reach that number of user base, be it Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Uber or Airbnb,” Sultan said.

Amid the ongoing technological revolution, being connected is a basic human right, Sultan said. “Does anyone realise how much digital content is generated in every minute? In every 30 seconds, 150 million e-mails are sent out, 2.78 million videos are generated and 2.4 million Google searches are conducted worldwide. The development of the commercial Internet has occurred concurrently with a massive expansion of the global economy, which has experienced 6.6-fold growth in nominal terms – from $11.1 trillion to $73.5 trillion since 1980.”

The du chief said Internet protocol (IP) traffic continues to advance rapidly, with 2019 traffic projected to be 64 times its 2005 volume. Global Internet bandwidth more than quadrupled between 2010 (50 terabytes per second) and 2014 (200 terabytes per second). More importantly, total cross-border Internet traffic increased 18-fold from 2005 to 2012.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development estimates that about 50 per cent of all traded services are enabled by innovation stemming from the technology sector, which includes the facilitation of cross-border data flows. According to a newly released report by McKinsey and Company, data flows account for $2.8 trillion of global GDP in 2014 and cross-border data flows now generate more economic value than traditional flows of traded goods.

“Information and data about each of the 7-plus billion people are been stored in a virtual world – the cloud – for usage. That changes everything, opens up new possibilities and exposes a person to threats,” Sultan told delegates at the Future Cities Show.

“From the Internet of Nothing regime, we are moving towards an era of the Internet of Everything. From little information or limited data, we are moving into a world of unlimited, big data.

“From unshared certainties, we are moving towards shared uncertainties. From physical robbery, we are exposing bank accounts to cyber robbery where billions of dollars are stolen by pressing the ‘Enter’ button – without any clash or casualty.


Developing world is now a source of more FDI

Foreign direct investment (FDI) from developing countries has increased 20-fold in the last 20 years, accounting for nearly 20 per cent of the global FDI ?ows by 2015, according to the Global Investment Competitive Report published by the World Bank.

For many developing countries, FDI has become the largest source of external finance, surpassing official development assistance, remittances or portfolio investment ?ows. In 2016, more than 40 per cent of the nearly $1.75 trillion of global FDI flows was directed to developing countries, providing much-needed private capital, the report said.

UAE investors to help rebuild war-torn nations in Middle East

The UAE’s public, private sector and institutional investors will help re-build war-torn countries in the Middle East, including Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Libya, a senior official said.

“Investors in the UAE are well-equipped to help re-build the economies of Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Libya and when the time is right, we will play our part in helping these economies. I’m sure the UAE government is also doing its part in providing support,” said Jamal Al Jarwan, Secretary-General of the UAE International Investors Council (UAEIIC).

He said the UAE’s investors are looking at Asia, Africa and the Middle East as strong investment destinations. The UAE International Investors Council (UAEIIC) is an umbrella organisation set up to help guide and protect UAE investors and UAE investment in other countries.

Sharjah registers 100% surge in FDI flow in 2017

Foreign direct investment (FDI) flow into Sharjah more than doubled in 2017 to Dh5.97 billion leading to a major jump in job creation, the investment promotion arm of the Sharjah government said on Tuesday.

Data released by Sharjah FDI (Invest in Sharjah) Office at the 8th Annual Investment Meeting in Dubai showed that cumulative international investments in Sharjah surged to Dh36 billion, with 2017 witnessing a 174 per cent surge in new jobs to 2,815.

Sharjah recorded FDI inflows worth Dh5.97 billion in 2017 as compared to Dh920 million in 2016 while more than 5,000 jobs were created in 2017 from all investments, including local, regional and international businesses.

Mohammed Juma’a Al Musharrkh, Invest in Sharjah CEO, said at a press conference organised in cooperation with the Sharjah Economic Development Department that Sharjah witnessed a qualitative growth in FDI inflows in the past year, with 18 new businesses bringing in more than double the capital that was invested by 20 projects in 2016.

Abu Dhabi policies gain investors’ favour

Abu Dhabi enjoys strong confidence among foreign investors over its policies. A latest survey for 2017 revealed that nearly 98.4 per cent of investors feel the policies are effective and efficient as compared to 97.1 per cent in 2016.

Launched by the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (Added), the Foreign Direct Investment Transparency Index for 2017 results showed that 84 per cent of investors believe the Abu Dhabi government’s policies to attract and promote FDI are effective while 14.6 per cent said these are adequate.

The survey was revealed at the Annual Investment Meeting 2018.

With regard to the costs incurred for registration and licensing, 62.4 per cent of survey respondents said these do not pose any problem while making an investment in the UAE capital. The opinions were varied – some of them (13.4 per cent) said they represent a simple problem; whereas around 18.6 per cent think it is a problem of moderate difficulty.

About the level of difficulty in obtaining information on changes of policies and regulations of the government of Abu Dhabi regarding foreign investors, nearly 81.4 per cent said it is not a problem or an obstacle. However, 18.6 per cent pointed out that it poses a simple problem.

Khalifa bin Salem Al Mansouri, the Undersecretary of the Department of Economic Development – Abu Dhabi, said the government is keen to improve services quality and also enhance the institutional, legal and procedural performance.

He said the Added strives to enable the private sector to effectively contribute to various economic activities and provide investors with information and data about the investment environment in the emirate.

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