UAE claims world first with AI-focused university

The United Arab Emirates claims to have opened the world’s first graduate-level university focusing on artificial intelligence.

The Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence, in Abu Dhabi, will offer MSc and PhD courses in machine learning, computer vision and natural language processing.

It will be led by interim president Sir Michael Brady, emeritus professor of oncological imaging at the University of Oxford, while its board of trustees includes AI experts from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Michigan State University and Tsinghua University.

All admitted students will be offered a full scholarship, which includes a monthly allowance, health insurance and accommodation. The university is also working with leading local and global companies to secure internships, it says.

Sultan Al Jaber, UAE’s minister of state, who has been appointed chair of the university’s board of trustees, said the institution would “bring the discipline of AI into the forefront, moulding and empowering creative pioneers who can lead us to a new AI empowered era”.

In 2017, the UAE government was the first in the world to appoint a minister for AI and it estimates that AI development will account for about 14 per cent of UAE’s gross domestic product by 2030.

A new technology and innovation focused university is also being established in Switzerland. The private Schaffhausen Institute of Technology, which has been initially funded by technology company Acronis, will work closely with industry to develop curricula and research in areas including artificial intelligence, advanced materials and cyber security.