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World’s first AI university opens in UAE

Master’s and PhD programs to begin in September 2020


The Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI), a new graduate-level AI research institution in Abu Dhabi, is accepting applications for its first Master's and PhD programs, with classes scheduled to begin in September 2020.

As the first university to have a singular focus on AI, the institution aims to attract students from around the world to advance the technology and propel the UAE’s economic diversification efforts.

To compete with more than a hundred graduate degree programmes in AI – mainly in North America, China and the UK – MBZUAI is offering full scholarships, monthly stipends, health insurance and accommodation to all students.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning, a subset of AI, are making huge leaps forward in mimicking human thinking – creating the building blocks for automated systems that can be improved through experience and data. As the technology evolves, applications for autonomous vehicles, robotics, data mining and precision medicine, among others, are taking off and creating lucrative opportunities.

AI is expected to add 14 percent to the world’s gross domestic product by 2030, equivalent to USD 15.7 trillion, according to business consultancy PwC. Experts estimate that AI’s contribution to the UAE economy will match the global increase of 14 percent – the largest GDP share in the Middle East – in the same time frame. The country ranks 19th worldwide on the government AI readiness index, and first in the region, according to Oxford Insights.

The university’s founding board of trustees comprises leaders in the field. They include MBZUAI interim president, Prof. Michael Brady, who teaches oncological imaging at the University of Oxford; Prof. Anil Jain, a lecturer at Michigan State University; Dr. Kai-Fu Lee, a technology executive and venture capitalist based in Beijing; and Prof. Daniela Rus, director of Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory; Prof. Andrew Chi-Chih Yao, Dean of the Institute for Interdisciplinary Information Sciences at Tsinghua University in Beijing; and Peng Xiao, CEO of Group 42.

MBZUAI has partnered with the Abu Dhabi-based Inception Institute of Artificial Intelligence (IIAI), an applied research lab, to supervise PhD students and curriculum development. IIAI will also serve as a principal partner for collaborative research.

The university will offer Master of Science and PhD programs in three of the fastest-growing areas of AI: machine learning, computer vision, and natural language processing.

Also read:

UAE Strategy for Artificial Intelligence

National Strategy for Advanced Innovation


Dubai FDI