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UAE-made AI models could put Middle East at the heart of tech innovation: AWS exec

As artificial intelligence (AI) continues its steady advance, the Middle East is keen on forging its own path with the technology rather than passively relying on offerings from the United States and Europe.

According to Kevin Miller, AWS Vice President for global data centers, the region’s relevance in the AI ecosystem hinges on several factors, including the efforts of individual countries toward a wholesome embrace. Miller points to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and its string of locally developed large language models (LLMs) as a key piece of the puzzle in promoting AI in the Middle East.

Since late 2022, the UAE has been focused on developing its localized LLMs to reduce its dependency on U.S. and Chinese-based offerings. Backed by oil wealth and the need to capture the nuances of Arab culture, the UAE rolled out Falcon, a localized LLM designed for enterprise and individual use cases.

“Clearly, Falcon is part of the conversation around core foundational models,” said Miller. “That alone tells you there’s a lot of capability in the Middle East to build game and world-changing technical capabilities.”

Falcon, the brainchild of the state-funded Technology Innovation Institute (TII), is expected to provide UAE residents with a viable alternative to ChatGPT and Gemini, given its superior support of Arabic. To underscore its commitment, TII launched a second iteration of Falcon, which is complete with advanced language, math, and coding functionalities.

Outside the Falcon series, the government is hedging its AI bets with another localized offering, Jais. The LLM, developed by G42 in conjunction with Cerebras Systems and Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence, has recorded impressive successes since its launch in 2023.

The UAE is not the only country investing in localized LLMs, with Saudi Arabia opting to follow the same path by rolling out AceGPT. Saudi Arabia’s offering leverages Llama 2 and is designed to “ensure cultural sensitivity” while promoting adherence to local values, but fears of government oppression continue to trail the offering.

“We have not conducted an exhaustive safety check on the model, so users should exercise caution,” read the announcement. “We cannot overemphasize the need for responsible and judicious use of our model.”

Middle East could be in pole position

In early February, several analysts opined that the Middle East has the resources to rub shoulders with North America in terms of AI innovation. The report cited the pivot to blockchain technology, AI, quantum technologies, and Big Data as reasons for the region’s rapid rise in digitization.

However, it may not be smooth sailing for the region, with the experts emphasizing the need for external knowledge and global collaboration to achieve its AI objectives.

“I am convinced that the Middle East has all the potential to overcome many current leaders regarding the use of AI,” said Pawel Satalecki, a consultant at Avenga.

In order for artificial intelligence (AI) to work right within the law and thrive in the face of growing challenges, it needs to integrate an enterprise blockchain system that ensures data input quality and ownership—allowing it to keep data safe while also guaranteeing the immutability of data. Check out CoinGeek’s coverage on this emerging tech to learn more why Enterprise blockchain will be the backbone of AI.

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