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First Artificial Intelligence University Established in UAE

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The first Artificial Intelligence (AI) focused university has been established in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It will be a graduate-level university with a heavy focus on research,  and it is called Mohammed Bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI).

According to the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, “Launching the world's first graduate-level AI university in Abu Dhabi echoes the UAE's pioneering spirit, and paves the way for a new era of innovation and technological advancement that benefits the UAE and the world.” 

The establishment of MBZUAI was announced at a press conference at the campus of the university, located in a suburb of the capital called Masdar City. 

“The Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI) is an open invitation from Abu Dhabi to the world to unleash AI's full potential,” UAE's Minister of State Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber said. 

State Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber was appointed to be chair of the board of trustees at the university. 

New Era of Technological Advancement

The university will have some of the best facilities and equipment related to AI. There will be both masters programs lasting two years as well as PhD ones lasting four years. The university will accept both local and international graduate students, and there will be three main specialty fields including machine learning, computer vision, and natural language processing. 

Official applications for acceptance into the university will start this month, and registrations will happen next August. The first classes are set to officially begin in September 2020. 

Dr. Sultan Al Jaber spoke at the official press conference opening. 

“The world has entered a new era of technological advancement and rapid innovation, all driven and underpinned by AI. This new era will pave the way for unprecedented opportunities, AI has become a priority and evident across all industries with new technologies being introduced at an incredibly fast pace,” he said.

“The world needs more human capacity in the field of AI to bridge any possible gaps and that is why today the UAE and Abu Dhabi is announcing the launch of Mohammad Bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence – the world’s first graduate level research-based AI university,” he added.

“This university will help us to develop the necessary AI eco system that will enable us to leverage the full potential of this very important technology locally, regionally and globally. The university will create an active AI community in the UAE developing innovative applications for businesses and government,” he said. 

A Team With Extensive Background in AI

The university is joined by Sir Michael Brady, who is the interim president and a member of the board of trustees. He has an extensive background in Artificial Intelligence, robotics, and imagery. He has spoken about the university and said that it was part of a move towards a knowledge-based economy, something that is taking place within the UAE. 

“This began with the government of the UAE formulating the strategy to transform the economy to the post oil era… To invest in developing competence in renewable energy, financial services, healthcare, materials technology and others,” he said. 

“[One of the main] enabling technologies is AI, and then you ask what are the risks in realising that [vision]… and the answer Is people…[So] how are we going to produce the right number of people with the right mindset [and] the right knowledge in order to lead and provide the technical leadership in these areas. That is what this university is about – providing that person power over the next 5 to 10 to 20 years,” he added. 

The establishment of the first ever university dedicated to Artificial Intelligence is a huge step forward in the field. It will likely cause more to open, and it will further dedicate resources and people to the most important development in modern history. 


Alex McFarland is an AI journalist and writer exploring the latest developments in artificial intelligence. He has collaborated with numerous AI startups and publications worldwide.