DUBAI – UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, 27TH NOVEMBER, 2017 – The UAE government has been working vigorously on a number of different projects in conformity with the UAE Vision 2030 and the five-decade long government plan ‘UAE Centennial 2071’. A lot of these initiatives revolve around improving and modernizing the education system in the Middle East. Sheikh Mohammed, recently addressing the nation at one such initiative, said, “We will not stop launching projects and initiatives to support our Arab communities because the stability of our region relies on it. MBRGI has launched over 1,400 projects and 33 institutions dedicated solely to spreading hope and building the future of the Arab world.”
A continuity of this chain of events, the EdEx MENA Conference, aimed at boosting and enhancing the private education sector in the UAE, was a successful two-day event in Dubai. The objective of the conference was to elevate the level of higher education in competition with globally recognized educational infrastructures through the use of emerging technologies and better equip the youth with refined skillsets for future challenges aligned with the national and regional economic and social needs.
The conference concluded with a special focus on the importance of learning coding techniques. This falls in line with the recent launch of ‘One Million Arab Coders’ initiative by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, as part of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, MBRGI foundation. The primary goal of this initiative is to empower the Arab youth with advanced skillsets achieving fluency in coding and programming aimed at providing better employment opportunities to the youth as well as the skills to contribute to the development of a digital economy. Speaking at the launch of this initiative, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed said, “Coding is the language of the modern era. Our goal is to teach it to one million young Arabs, in order to prepare them now for the requirements needed to excel in the future.”
Earlier in October, another first was achieved by the government of UAE after launching the first Ministry of Happiness last year, in the form of appointing the first ever Minister for Artificial Intelligence in the history of mankind. Oman bin Sultan Al Olama was appointed the country’s first Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence with the aim to be at the forefront of global technological revolution. This significant announcement came just two days after Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid unveiled the highly progressive UAE Strategy for Artificial Intelligence, a major initiative in the UAE Centennial 2071 objectives. On this occasion, Sheikh Mohammed referred to the AI technology as “the new wave after the Smart Government upon which all our services, sectors and future infrastructure will rely on”. The strategy is expected to create a highly productive innovative environment by investing in advanced technologies and AI tools that will be implemented in all sectors. An estimate by The Gulf Nation put the global market value of AI at $15.7 trillion by 2030, boosting UAE’s GDP by 35 percent, at the same time reducing government costs by 50 percent [link].
Amidst all these huge projects and programs by the UAE government many new startups have come forth contributing to the national agenda for investing in emerging technologies. Probably the most active and innovative startup is the Bahrain based company Munfarid Consulting, focused at transforming the education framework in the Middle East with the help of immersive AR/VR/AI technologies. The company has been at the forefront of many government initiatives and has received much appreciation and encouragement for their dynamic efforts and unique offering [link}. Munfarid team has been working in partnership with Google Expeditions in the efforts to maximize the scope of immersive technologies in education and training. Munfarid just welcomed the Unity Technologies team from UK at their platform who have come to UAE to participate in the recent EdEx MENA to meet with universities, schools and educators from all over Middle East. Unity Technologies, a giant in gaming industry and now in VR as well, made their appearance for the first time ever in an education event in the UAE with the plans to expand their operations in the Middle East region.
Unity Technologies is one of the world’s most powerful engines, dedicated to developing software and apps in the most advanced technologies. Talking about Unity’s vision for their ed-tech solutions, Liz Mercuri, the Educational Evangelist for Unity Technologies said, “The vision of Unity is to democratize game development globally. We aim to make it as easy and accessible as possible to develop content and use rich virtual and e-learning content in the classroom.”
Unity has a huge scope working in UAE helping to transform the education technology. The timing could not have been more perfect as undoubtedly Dubai, being one of the most happening cities in the world in terms of heavy investments and promotions in education, digital technologies, green technologies, infrastructure as well as corporate development – here the market is rife with opportunities for innovative enterprises.