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UAE unveils new AI model to rival big tech giants


The UAE is making big waves by launching a new open-source generative AI model. This step, taken by a government-backed research institute, is turning heads and marking the UAE as a formidable player in the global AI race.

In Abu Dhabi, the Technology Innovation Institute (TII) unveiled the Falcon 2 series. As reported by Reuters, this series includes Falcon 2 11B, a text-based model, and Falcon 2 11B VLM, a vision-to-language model capable of generating text descriptions from images. TII is run by Abu Dhabi’s Advanced Technology Research Council.

As a major oil exporter and a key player in the Middle East, the UAE is investing heavily in AI. This strategy has caught the eye of U.S. officials, leading to tensions over whether to use American or Chinese technology. In a move coordinated with Washington, Emirati AI firm G42 withdrew from Chinese investments and replaced Chinese hardware, securing a US$1.5 billion investment from Microsoft.

Faisal Al Bannai, Secretary General of the Advanced Technology Research Council and an adviser on strategic research and advanced technology, proudly states that the UAE is proving itself as a major player in AI. The release of the Falcon 2 series is part of a broader race among nations and companies to develop proprietary large language models. While some opt to keep their AI code private, the UAE, like Meta’s Llama, is making its groundbreaking work accessible to all.

Al Bannai is also excited about the upcoming Falcon 3 generation and expresses confidence in the UAE’s ability to compete globally: “We’re very proud that we can still punch way above our weight, really compete with the best players globally.”

Reflecting on his earlier statements this year, Al Bannai emphasised that the UAE’s decisive advantage lies in its ability to make swift strategic decisions.

It’s worth noting that Abu Dhabi’s ruling family controls some of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds, worth about US$1.5 trillion. These funds, formerly used to diversify the UAE’s oil wealth, are now critical for accelerating growth in AI and other cutting-edge technologies. In fact, the UAE is emerging as a key player in producing advanced computer chips essential for training powerful AI systems. According to Wall Street Journal, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman met with investors, including Sheik Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who runs Abu Dhabi’s major sovereign wealth fund, to discuss a potential US$7 trillion investment to develop an AI chipmaker to compete with Nvidia.

Furthermore, the UAE’s commitment to generative AI is evident in its recent launch of a ‘Generative AI’ guide. This guide aims to unlock AI’s potential in various fields, including education, healthcare, and media. It provides a detailed overview of generative AI, addressing digital technologies’ challenges and opportunities while emphasising data privacy. The guide is designed to assist government agencies and the community leverage AI technologies by demonstrating 100 practical AI use cases for entrepreneurs, students, job seekers, and tech enthusiasts.

This proactive stance showcases the UAE’s commitment to participating in and leading the global AI race, positioning it as a nation to watch in the rapidly evolving tech scene.

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Tags: ai, artificial intelligence, generative ai, meta, microsoft, Nvidia, uae


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