The Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence campus in Abu Dhabi Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: The Mohammed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI) held a graduation ceremony for the second and third cohorts of the Executive Directors Programme (MEP) at the university’s campus in Masdar City in Abu Dhabi last Thursday.

The ceremony was attended by MBZUAI President Professor Eric Cheng and the leadership team of the university.

MEP is a 12-week, “intensive experience developed to support the need for AI-savvy leaders across government, industry, academia, and beyond”, the university said. The programme is led by “some of the top innovators in AI and provides a practical grounding in AI and its implications on business and policymaking”.

During the graduation ceremony, the team presented their winning AI sustainability solutions for the programme’s second and third cohorts.

This year’s graduation included 83 CEOs, director-generals, and executive directors. Graduates spent 12 weeks with globally renowned instructors from UC Berkeley, Harvard, Carnegie Mellon, MIT, Oxford, and MBZUAI, learning about the rapidly evolving AI landscape and developing real-world solutions they are now implementing in their organisations.

Also among the graduates were two sponsored seats for NGO participants to ensure AI awareness and growth in the charitable and not-for-profit sectors.

The culmination of the programme is a set of capstone projects where participants applied their learnings to deliver impact in critical areas such as health, security, logistics, environment, education, finance, and energy.

Collaborative projects

The graduates developed 14 collaborative projects focused on real-world national and global challenges. For example, in line with the UAE’s designation of 2023 as the Year of Sustainability, the programme empowered participants to tackle challenges related to climate change by equipping them with the necessary skills and knowledge to develop AI-enabled solutions in the run up to COP28 UAE.

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Meet the graduates

Gulf News interviewed two of the graduated executives who completed this programme. Saeed Al Neyadi, General Director, Monitoring and Control Center, said: “We thank the Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence for the initiative to organise the artificial intelligence programme for executives. What is beautiful about it is that it helped enrich and stimulate valuable and important information regarding artificial intelligence.”

Saeed Al Neyadi

He added: “We touched on the history of artificial intelligence and the importance of this programming to develop technical templates and fields to obtain the best results to benefit from the outputs of artificial intelligence in all areas of practical life and make life easier for people.

“We also produced important projects that were admired by the jury and teaching staff.”

He added: “The cadres and the teams who supervised the teaching were highly qualified and able to deliver information. The executive directors who joined this programme were also highly aware of the importance of the programme and benefited from it.

“Artificial intelligence enters today in all areas of our life, including education, health, industry, economy and entertainment.”

Dr Ghuwaya Al Neyadi

Dr Ghuwaya Al Neyadi, Senior Vice President, Group Medical Services ADNOC, told Gulf News: “This programme that I’ve joined is an excellent programme in regards to preparing and orienting the executive team across all of the entities, whether they are governmental, non-governmental entities , private companies or other organisations.”

She added: “The programme helped us to understand what is the Artificial Intelligence, the fundamentals of AI, the applications, and where and how we can utilise the AI applications in our day-to-day operations.”

Dr Al Neyadi said: “AI is nowadays is now in our daily life. Our country and our government strategy is to adapt and benefit from such new technologies to enhance the work development, the operations and the process of the general work. I highly encourage my colleagues across the UAE to join this programme to have the benefit of it.”

AI in national progress

Professor Timothy Baldwin, Acting Provost, Associate Provost for Academic Affairs, Department Chair of Natural Language Processing, MBZUAI, told Gulf News after the MEP graduation ceremony: “This graduation is another step towards the realisation of the UAE’s formidable ambitions in AI, its understanding of the critical importance of AI literacy and fluency for decision makers now and into the future.”

Professor Timothy Baldwin

He added: “To realise the promise of AI it would require talented people and innovative solutions. MBZUAI was established as a catalyst for the extraordinary AI ambitions of the country in terms of both research and industry development. Against a backdrop of AI talent shortages the university is creating a world-class pipeline of AI specialists to support this mission.”

Prof Baldwin said: “Our graduates are creators and changemakers – in healthcare at a time of global pandemics, in technology as harbingers of the fourth industrial revolution, and in government to deliver on national priorities.”

Addressing the MEP graduates, he said: “We hope the time you spent with global AI icons and captains of the AI industry has prepared you well to advocate for AI driven disruption in your organisations and industry sectors. Today you join a powerful community of AI advocates in the UAE.”