Complex Made Simple

The smart money is on AI in UAE government services

the efficiencies generated by artificial intelligence (AI) technology can support Middle Eastern government budgets by up to $7 billion annually. How is the UAE gearing up for that?

Neuromorphic tech can incorporate nano-chips into wearables modeled on the human brain with future implants UAE is aiming to save 50% of the government’s annual costs with AI, tackling 190 million wasted hours yearly AUH announced that it is trialing a new enhanced AI-powered ‘Smart Travel’ system

McKinsey & Company predicts a $5 to $7 trillion potential economic impact by 2025 from automation of knowledge work by intelligent software systems.

Oliver Wyman, a global leader in management consulting, estimates that the efficiencies generated by artificial intelligence (AI) technology can support Middle Eastern government budgets by up to $7 billion annually.

Its report titled “AI for Governments”, places the Middle East and Africa (MEA) as the leading region in forecast internet protocol traffic growth increasing 41% by 2022.  

Manuel Abat, Partner in the Digital and CMT practice at Oliver Wyman, said: “Due to the breadth and depth of data availability across sectors and on the citizen-level, AI and other related technologies have the potential to solve many finance and revenue problems that governments face, while driving impact.”

Premium government services

Citizens often interact with government agencies to complete day-to-day tasks, typically leading to complaints around speed, quality, and bias. By using AI, governments can personalize such services by leveraging models such as those embedded in chatbots or virtual assistants.

Image by Oliver WymanDubai launched its AI-backed advisor “Rashid” which uses AI to offer official and reliable answers to customers’ questions regarding the necessary procedures, documents, and requirements to conduct various transactions.

Governments can also leverage AI to monitor social media responses and local concerns brought on prior to formulating a particular policy. 

Read: The UAE has a new AI journo: Is artificial journalism a job taker?

Optimal Government Budgets

AI-led public finance management can streamline algorithms to improve revenue collection, optimize budget allocation, and detect financial fraud.

Becoming better citizens

Industry in cooperation with both government and academic research is working on “neuromorphic” technology that can incorporate nano-chips into wearables modeled on the human brain which can later be implanted into our brains artificially, augmenting human thought and reasoning capabilities.   


The China example

During the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China, out of concern about the city’s notorious pollution problems, dozens of nearby factories were ordered closed. Today, Beijing is saturated with sensors that can measure CO2 content and other pollutants to predict whether or not the city is going to be impacted by high levels of pollution.  

The technology behind all this is artificial intelligence.  

Read: AI plays COVID-19 job stress reliever, but UAE has big plans for the technology

The UAE and AI

The Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI), the world’s first graduate-level, research-based artificial intelligence (AI) university, has appointed renowned AI academic Professor Dr. Eric Xing as President as the first intake of graduate students are set to commence studies in January 2021.

Xing has authored or contributed to more than 370 research papers and reports cited over 35,000 times by leading academics and academic journals.

With the 2031 Artificial Intelligence Strategy, the UAE is also aiming to save 50% of the government’s annual costs, tackling 190 million wasted hours per year on transactions, and boosting the UAE’s GDP by 35%.

The UAE is the first country to have appointed the world’s first Minister of State for AI.

Here are some major UAE public sector entities adopting AI:

1. The Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) Free Zone is one of the most attractive leading licensing authorities for AI company setups.

In 2019, ADGM partnered with the London-based Centre for Finance, Technology and Entrepreneurship (CFTE) to introduce its “Artificial Intelligence in Finance” program.  

2. Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), UAE’s biggest sovereign wealth fund managing about $700 billion in assets,  hired Stephen Malinak, an AI expert, as global head of quantitative research and development. Malinak was former chief data and analytics officer at Truvalue Labs, a San Francisco-based technology company, which focuses on advances in natural language processing, cognitive computing, and machine learning.

ADIA and Mubadala Investment Co, the two biggest UAE state funds, have stepped up investment in technology and AI, as they seek new areas of growth.

3, Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) announced that it is trialing a new enhanced AI-powered ‘Smart Travel’ system to shorten queues and streamline processes from check-in and immigration counter staffing to passenger arrival and departure times.

Abu Dhabi International Airport is also exploring the integration of AI into its safety and security systems, enabling the automated monitoring of camera feeds where aircraft manoeuver and park. 

4. The Dubai Electricity and Water (DEWA) has partnered with technology company Group 42 to accelerate the development and adoption of AI and cloud technologies across the UAE.

Digital DEWA’s service portfolio includes solar energy, energy storage, AI, and digital services which makes it the world’s first digital utility utilizing autonomous systems for renewable energy, and storage.

5. Dubai Police’s virtual assistant ‘Amna’ takes voice commands from customers, and has handled 14,132 inquiries from customers since January 2020. 

Amna can help the customers obtain a Police Clearance Certificate (Good Conduct Certificate), Traffic Status Certificates, and Traffic Clearance Certificate details. It also can assist motorists to pay traffic tickets, get traffic alerts, and report suspicious security behavior via ‘Police Eye’.  

Current challenges facing AI adoption 

1. Cost: AI’s initial investment and roll-out costs are high. They include creating a suitable model, software installation, training, and the education of staff and customers. 

2. Building trust

AI-driven decision-making represents a big unknown for many people. It can be hard to convince stakeholders of its value.  

3. Data protection and security

Governments and companies need to proceed with caution to keep AI systems safe and secure against data breaches.