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AI Retreat: Unicorn Founders Confirm Dubai as Ideal Launch Pad for Advanced Technologies, Underline Emirate’s Commitment to Welcoming Innovators Worldwide

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Organised by the Dubai Centre for Artificial Intelligence (DCAI) in cooperation with the National Programme for Artificial Intelligence, the AI Retreat 2024, the premier gathering for AI adoption, discussed the expected positive impact of Dubai Sandbox. This initiative aims to enable innovators, entrepreneurs, and tech companies to design, develop, and test future technologies and AI applications in Dubai’s dynamic, integrated, and welcoming environment that supports transformative innovation.

Dubai Sandbox empowers AI innovators and builds upon the statement of Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, during the World Government Summit 2024, suggesting Dubai become an open testbed for global tech companies, given its collaborative environment, infrastructure, and legislation.

Founders and heads of unicorn companies participated in a panel discussion held as part of the event, discussing the future landscape of the Dubai Sandbox project. They stressed Dubai’s credentials as a testbed for innovative technologies and its tremendous capacity to attract innovators from around the world.

The panel, titled “Government’s Role in Enabling AI Adoption through Policy Development and Regulatory Innovation,” was moderated by Khalifa Al Qama, Director of Dubai Sandbox. It tackled the multifaceted role governments play in advancing AI development and uptake. The session delved into the crucial role of governments in shaping the future of AI and presented an overview of the commitment made at the World Government Summit to create a local regulatory sandbox for experimental policies.

Commenting on the innovative project, Al Qama began the session by stating that that Dubai is adopting a more adaptive approach towards AI, focusing on leadership through active adoption and collaboration with academia and the private sector. By integrating AI within government services, Dubai aims to develop informed and adaptive regulatory frameworks that support innovative advancements and ensure ethical use of technology.

Nicolas Prettejohn, Head of AI, UK & Nordics at Palantir; Rod Solaimani, Middle East Policy & Partnerships Lead at OpenAI; and Karim Beguir, CEO of InstaDeep, discussed their vision for AI’s increased adoption and how initiatives such as the AI Retreat can foster innovation in the UAE. Offering insights into Dubai’s regulatory landscape for AI, they presented recommendations for future regulation to better manage this technology.

Mr Prettejohn emphasised that AI today democratises innovation, with governments playing a crucial enabling role in adopting its applications and training their workforce. He highlighted the importance of engineering and designing AI prompts to achieve optimal results, stressing the need to prepare specialists in AI disciplines. Governments can support this initiative, which will positively impact various development paths.

Mr Beguir said: “Until now, we have had systems that are solving local problems, which is quite important. However, I believe we should consider developing a regulatory framework or sandbox that allows us to truly integrate data. For the first time, we can map the full health trajectory, and with a forward-looking regulator, we can start to identify common patterns in the evolution of both healthy and unhealthy patients. This shift turns medicine into a proactive discipline, enabling early intervention.”

He also added that Dubai, being one of the world’s largest and most vibrant metropolises, is home to a diverse spectrum of nationalities and ethnicities, creating an ideal environment for developing future-oriented medicine and advancing personalised therapeutics.

Mr Solaimani said: “The concept of a sandbox is great as it involves creating a controlled environment where individuals can enter, test, and experiment with new ideas that help develop legislation and policies. These policies are then implemented in the private sector, where further experimentation and refinement continue. If Dubai can transparently publish these outcomes when no one else is, I think it has a lot to contribute to driving this conversation forward.”

Dubai Sandbox will enable promising and innovative projects in various domains, including future technology and the uses of AI in key sectors. Additionally, it will ensure a stimulating environment for the development of new technologies capable of setting positive transformations in motion, improving the quality of life, and creating multiple future opportunities for young generations. This game-changing initiative will serve as an incubator for emerging projects and creative ideas, allowing entrepreneurs in AI fields to expand its myriad uses.

The founders of unicorns participating in the AI Retreat, which simultaneously ran at both The Museum of the Future and AREA 2071 at Emirates Towers in Dubai, unanimously agreed on the significance of ensuring an enabling and supportive environment. This serves as a testbed for experimenting with and developing AI applications to accelerate their use, expand their scope, and convey their benefits to societies and economies everywhere.

Participants highlighted Dubai’s global position in providing a flexible and attractive regulatory and digital environment for promising innovations, projects, and investments in enabling AI solutions. They stated that Dubai’s universal blueprint for Artificial Intelligence focuses on maximising the role of the private sector in AI investments, given that the city hosts eight technology unicorns.

They added that Dubai Sandbox will further complement Dubai’s leading global position in activating the opportunities of the digital economy in the Middle East region.