After becoming the first nation to appoint a minister for artificial intelligence (AI) in 2017, the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday launched what it calls the ‘world’s first AI university’ in Abu Dhabi, with the opening of the Mohammad Bin Zayed University of Artifical Intelligence (MBZUAI).
MBZUAI will be the world’s first graduate university with a dedicated focus on AI. According to the university’s website, MBZUAI is “a graduate-level, research-based academic institution that offers specialized degree programs for local and international students in the field of Artificial Intelligence.”
Located in Masdar City, Abu Dhabi, the university has begun accepting applications for masters and PhD programmes, with classes scheduled to begin in September 2020.
Abu Dhabi’s crown prince, Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, tweeted on the occasion, “Launching of the world’s first graduate-level artificial intelligence university in Abu Dhabi echoes the UAE’s pioneering spirit, and paves the way towards a new era of innovation and technological advancement that benefits the UAE and a world.”
Artificial Intelligence Minister Omar Al Olama tweeted, calling the launch of the university an “exceptional step”, adding that “His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan said that we will celebrate the export of the last barrel of oil and the establishment of this university comes as a sign of His Highness's future planning to achieve this goal.”
The programs include MScs and PhDs in Computer Vision, Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing. In a bid to make the program appealing to students from across backgrounds, the programme listing states that “All admitted students are granted upon acceptance the privilege to complete their study with a full scholarship, including 100% tuition, a monthly stipend and many more benefits.”
You can find the application guidelines and portal at the university website here.
While MBZUAI may be the world’s first university dedicated to the study of AI, many universities offer programmes in AI, with centres focussed on their study. According to Oxford Insight’s 2019 AI Readiness Index, the UAE ranked 19th worldwide, with Singapore was deemed the country most ready for the advent and projected disruptions that AI is expected to bring (India ranked 17th in the list).
In 2018, the UAE’s first AI university degree programme was launched by the British University in Dubai (BuiD).