AI in Dubai: how the world’s smartest city is embracing data

In one of the most groundbreaking implementations of AI, Dubai’s Ministry of Data is poised to turn the city into one of the most technologically advanced in the world.

Key Takeaway

As we usher in what is widely considered the 4th industrial revolution, cities like Dubai understand the power of data and AI technology and are taking necessary steps to place themselves ahead of the world when it comes to leveraging data for public good.

The vision that built Dubai in the first place, that is fueling development of an AI ministry, will take Dubai to the next decade and beyond

– Jorn, at the Outside Insight Launch Event Dubai

In October 2017, Dubai took a major step toward becoming the most data-driven city in the world, appointing a state minister for Artificial Intelligence. “We want the UAE to become the world’s most prepared country for artificial intelligence,” said Prime Minister Shaikh Mohammad.

“AI is not either positive or negative. As with any technology, it really depends on how we implement it,” said the Minister, H.E. Omar Bin Sultan Al Olama. “With the internet, for example, we’ve seen a generation that has so much knowledge – even more than all of history’s historians and intellectuals combined. That’s because the internet is able to provide that sort of data. Imagine if AI was able to help us deliver that content in a way that makes people understand it, memorize it and make people be leaders and thought leaders in it.”

“We want to be the use case in AI for government globally.” – H.E. Omar Bin Sultan Al Olama

Claiming to be “the world’s most comprehensive and ambitious data initiative,” the Dubai Data project intends to make the city the “smartest and happiest in the world.”

Tangible benefit: The government predicts 10.4 billion AED will be added to the Dubai economy via data every year by 2021 - enabling innovation that is estimated to directly contribute over 1% of GDP.

“Our aim is not to have the most data, but to unleash the greatest value from data, creating new opportunities and improved experiences for all.” – His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum

A ministry of AI in practice

Data is a major focus of the Smart Dubai initiative, which includes projects like The Happiness Meter – a live sentiment capturing initiative, The Index Wheel to measure how facilities and services are contributing to Smart Dubai goals and the Dubai Blockchain Strategy to implement the latest blockchain technologies within the city structure.

The city has long been at the forefront of “futuristic projects” like a real life hyperlooprenewable energy efforts and electric vehicles, and tests for flying taxisand even flying jetpacks. Dubai even has an accelerator program aimed at expediting the creation of these various futuristic technologies.

According to the expert AI panel at the Outside Insight launch event in Dubai, the city is “going about it in an extremely sophisticated way. Once we know what data is important, we can crunch it the right way. Then there will be some enormous productivity improvement going forward.” – Hans Henrik Christensen of Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority.

Dr. Davide D’Aprile of Smart Dubai hailed UAE’s innovation: “UAE’s leaders show their ability to fully understand the present and create a brighter future for everyone around the world. AI needs to be framed into a strategy. Why AI is so important for the UAE is not just a matter of cutting costs and boosting GDP. What we want to achieve is a completely disruptive vision – we want to enhance and improve every sector.”

The idea is not just to collect large amounts of data but to use AI to discover valuable insights within that data that can unleash its full potential. From their Food Watch Programme designed to use data to monitor health and nutrition, to, a comprehensive database for projects and construction in Dubai – the government is working not only to gather and analyze data for themselves, but to make it accessible for individual citizens to improve their own knowledge.

“Where AI can make a big impact is where there’s a large amount of data. Where there is data that is not utilized, that’s where you can really create value. It will make a big difference in every sector.” – Jorn

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