Some of the members of the UAE National Challenge winning team during the graduation ceremony at MBZUAI's at the university’s Masdar City campus in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: A total of 41 government and business leaders on Tuesday celebrated their graduation from the Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI) Executive Programme.

The graduation ceremony was held at the university’s Masdar City campus, and was attended by Professor Eric Xing, university president, and other officials.

In a statement, the university said its Executive Programme has included directors, top executives, ambassadors, and presidents from various organisations. The programme comprised of 12 rigorous weeks of coursework, lectures and collaborative project work.

The Executive Programme was launched in September 2021 to support UAE government and business sectors—unlocking the potential of AI through practical applications to national challenges. Cohort one participants collaborated to develop a range of proposed solutions, such as an agile AI platform that makes employee assessment more efficient and cost effective; a solution which centralises and incentivises progress toward the nation’s 2050 net-zero goals; and another which aims to detect cardiovascular disease early to both drive down mortality rates and the need for costly life-saving interventions. Direct engagement with globally renowned instructors from UC Berkeley, Harvard, Carnegie Mellon, MIT, Oxford, and MBZUAI is also part of what makes the programme a one-of-a-kind experience.

Future innovators

“The Executive Program demonstrates MBZUAI’s commitment to support the vision of our leadership by building a community of future innovators and leaders who can drive economic growth and transformation towards the realization of key national priorities. Congratulations to all the graduates on this special milestone. The skills and knowledge they have gained will enable them to incorporate innovative AI solutions within their organizations, enhancing their performance and competitiveness. Integrating AI applications throughout organizations in the public and private sectors is an important step to achieving the vision of our nation’s leadership, as outlined in the UAE National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence 2031,” Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, and chairman of the MBZUAE board of trustees.

The programme featured visits to the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), the Emirates Post Group, Injazat/G42, the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) FinTech Hive, the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Centre, and the Al Ain Zoo and Aquarium. Site visits were geared to demonstrating how AI implementation has taken shape in each organisation. The live case studies were used to kickstart brainstorming about how participants could set about implementing AI in their home institutions.

MBZUAI  11 President Professor Eric Xing-1648026565840
MBZUAI Professor Eric Xing addresses dignitaries and students at the graduation ceremony in Masdar City campus, Abu Dhabi, on Tuesday.. Image Credit: Supplied

“AI literacy is central to the success of many of the strategic initiatives the UAE government is undertaking. Knowing how to use AI responsibly and designing policies that support its ethical application are often the main barriers that prevent progress. We equip students with a set of practical tools and skills that can be used by them today and by their successors in the future,” Xing said.

Supporting health-care priorities

Dr Jamal Al Kaabi, undersecretary at the Department of Health (DoH), which regulates healthcare in Abu Dhabi emirate, was one of the programme graduates.

“Machine learning and AI tools are playing an essential role – enabling us to be at the forefront of community health and wellbeing. AI was especially valuable in supporting the healthcare sector’s swift response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Other national health priorities such as the Emirati Genome Programme are also using AI to analyse massive amounts of data and generate new insights for our society. The MBZUAI Executive Programme is an extraordinary programme that can help leaders maximise the value of their AI projects – in healthcare or any other domain,” Dr Al Kaabi said.

Enhance services

“One of our priorities has been to use emerging technologies to give teams more autonomy and flexibility in their HR operations. We’ve also seen how AI can enhance customer-facing services and deliver stronger self-service functions. By examining prominent use cases as part of the MBZUAI Executive Programme, I feel more emboldened than ever to scale our use of AI in line with global best practices,” said Laila Al Suwaidi, acting director general of the Federal Authority for Government Human Resources.

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Ahmed Al Shamsi, chief executive officer at the Emirates Foundation, added that AI helps make organisations more efficient.

“Our main objective at the Emirates Foundation is to maximise the funding we dedicate to our local and global initiatives. As part of that aim, AI allows us to minimise costs by streamlining processes such as internal operations and human resources. Edxternally, we’ve seen how insights from AI can be used to identify those who require the most assistance, find opportunities to develop national talent, and operate projects with greater intelligence and sustainable social impact. It has been a privilege to share these experiences as part of the MBZUAI Executive Programme, and to discuss how we can use AI as a force for positive change in the world,” he said.