UAE’s AI Advancements Position Region as Global Tech Hub, Says AWS Executive

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The UAE’s efforts to develop artificial intelligence tools, such as the Falcon large language model (LLM), are underscoring the country’s potential to become a significant player in global technology, according to a top executive at Amazon Web Services (AWS). In an interview with The National, Kevin Miller, Vice President for Global Data Centers at AWS, emphasized the regional impact of locally-developed AI models.

“Falcon is part of the conversation around core foundational models, which demonstrates the Middle East’s capability to build game-changing technical innovations,” said Miller at the AWS Summit in Dubai. “The region has shown itself to be a powerhouse in this space, firmly placing the Middle East on the AI map.”

Miller noted the influx of investment into the region, driven by a young, educated workforce and a burgeoning start-up ecosystem. “There is a strong enterprise customer base keen on transforming their businesses, which makes the Middle East an exciting market,” he added.

Falcon, developed by the Technology Innovation Institute (TII) in Abu Dhabi, exemplifies the UAE’s commitment to AI. LLMs like Falcon can mimic human intelligence, handling tasks such as distinguishing, reviewing, translating, forecasting, and generating new content using large data sets. The latest version, Falcon 2, was introduced to compete with models from Meta, Google, and OpenAI.

Another prominent LLM from Abu Dhabi, Jais, developed by G42 in collaboration with the Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence and Cerebras Systems, has also gained traction.

“Investing in foundational research and development is a smart move for universities and countries,” said Miller. The UAE, the Arab world’s second-largest economy, continues to emphasize its goal of leading the AI industry as it diversifies from oil. Government efforts have encouraged sector growth, drawing worldwide attention.

Generative AI is a transformative technology with long-term innovation potential, according to Miller. “It solves real problems that customers face today,” he said.

AWS, known for its cloud computing services, has also ventured into generative AI with its Amazon Q platform, announced at the re:Invent conference in Las Vegas. Despite maintaining a low profile during the initial AI boom, AWS is now expanding its capabilities to compete with Google’s Gemini and OpenAI’s ChatGPT.

While AWS has no immediate plans for new data centers, it continuously monitors customer demand to plan future expansions. The company recently announced a $5.3 billion investment in Saudi Arabia to establish an infrastructure region and two innovation centers. AWS previously established data centers in Bahrain and the UAE in 2019 and 2022, respectively.

“We are seeing strong demand for our services in the Middle East and will continue building the necessary capacity,” Miller concluded.

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