Bridging the regional skills gap to adapt to the current climate of the ever evolving technologies was the highlight of day two of the first EmTech MENA 2018 conference, hosted by Dubai Future Foundation and Haykal Media.
Held under the patronage of the His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, the conference concluded with a focus on securing the future of the Middle East talent, in light of the rapid rise in digital trends such as IoT, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, cloud computing and many more. The concluding keynote was given by His Excellency Omar Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, United Arab Emirates.
During his fireside chat with Elizabeth Barmson-Boudreau – CEO and Publisher of MIT Technology Review, HE Omar Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence expressed his views on where the UAE is headed with the rapid adoption of technology, and the workforce needed to transform the region into one of the smartest cities of the world stating that, “development of government or improvement in life of citizens is a key reason [I am] interested in artificial intelligence.” He further added that “we can become much smarter human beings; with AI, we can become much more informed and much more capable.”
During his session, Al Olama said that we need to develop technology in a very responsible manner, making money should not happen at the cost of people. He added that the new trend of technology today is around AI as it can create a multibillion dollar economy if applied in the right context.
Al Olama said that in the UAE, we have created a platform to provide agile and flexible regulations that are needed for new and emerging industries as a result of the applications of AI. Adding that the government is investing in building talent and capacity around AI: “we should be able to apply AI and able to openly discuss the use of AI and technology with our stakeholders in an informed manner.” He added “what we want to do is to have an open testbed for companies and also countries from across the world to come to the UAE and test AI application here.”
In the attempt to address the skills gap, the conference highlighted that there was a need to encourage the next generation of professionals to be fully equipped in all fields digital to reach the goals of regional economies transforming digitally. In addition to the skills gap in the region, the role of governments in the digital transition of economies was discussed at length by Siim Sikkut, Government CIO of Estonia.
On educating the youth in the region, Hisham Elaraby, Regional Director MENA, Udacity mentioned that, “we are facing a tsunami of job disruption all around us, and we must challenge the status quo in education or risk our young people being left behind. The skill gap in MENA is very real and therefore, we must respond to market’s demands by developing new approaches that are employment-driven.”
On the ground was Dr. Saleh Al Hashemi, Managing Director of Krypto Labs and CEO of Algorythma who addressed the realities Dubai and its neighbouring countries now faced, and subsequently, have to address. He commented saying, “we are pleased to be the Ecosystem partner at the first Emtech MENA 2018, the global access to the most innovative people and companies that will change the face of innovation and drive the new artificial intelligence (AI) and technology-built economy. During this year’s participation, we are focusing on driving transformation and integrating technology and artificial intelligence (AI), in all walks of life, be it healthcare, EduTech, MediaTech, FinTech, RetailTech, RealityTech, Intelligent City and Government”.
Speaking of the success of the first ever EmTech MENA 2018, Abdulsalam Haykal, Chairman of Haykal Group added, “the region’s first ever EmTech MENA was a great success as key stakeholders across the industries were ready to share their views on pertinent issues that make the societal transition, today. Our esteemed line up of speakers were able to share valuable insights to the next generation of professionals that will be there to help industry leaders implement regional visions.”
In attendance, were renowned government and business leaders, and MIT professors including Salem Albedwawi, Head of Smart Transformation, Dubai MunicipalityClarissa Shen, Chief Operating Officer, Udacity, Professor Munir Nayfeh, Professor of Physics, University of Illinois, Anthony Butler CTO, IBM’s blockchain business in Middle East and many more.