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Here's Why Dubai Is Primed To Lead The Global Race In Artificial Intelligence Dubai is a newcomer to the race, and it undeniably has a steep hill to climb if it is to stand up to the tech hubs that have dominated for decades. But it has all the ingredients needed to make the challenge- and succeed.

By David von Rosen

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Dubai, a city known for its soaring skyscrapers and luxurious lifestyle, has set its sights on a new goal- becoming the artificial intelligence (AI) capital of the world.

The foundations are already being laid. The UAE was the first country to appointment a Minister for Artificial Intelligence in 2017, and by the time OpenAI launched its groundbreaking ChatGPT last November, Dubai's business-friendly tax and regulation system had already secured in an influx of ambitious tech entrepreneurs.

According to the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), more than 40 tech firms opened up offices or established a formal presence in 2022.

If this isn't evidence enough of Dubai's tech trajectory, money talks. According to The Financial Times, Dubai ranked first in the world for attracting greenfield foreign direct investment (FDI) in both 2021 and 2022, with an impressive US$23 billion pouring into the city in 2022 alone. International confidence in Dubai is soaring.

Meanwhile, the Dubai International Chamber, tasked with strengthening industry ties with key international markets, has opened many offices across the globe in recent years, with the UK and Singapore joining the list in 2023.

But competition in AI development will be the most crucial and consequential tech race we've seen since the sprint for search engine dominance. And if Dubai is to take the lead, it needs more than general tech competence- it needs specific and focused policies and strategies targeted at the AI sector.

Recent announcements have highlighted Dubai's commitment to this. The DIFC has announced that they will be establishing an "AI and Web3.0 Hub," with the aim of attracting 500 tech businesses by 2028. The hub is being described as a "catalyst for growth" that will attract "global innovators, startups, venture capitalists, and industry leaders", according to Arif Amiri, the Chief Executive of the DIFC Authority.

The city is also set to host a key generative AI assembly in October that will bring together public and private organizations to discuss the emerging technology and its potential. And the UAE has been throwing its weight behind AI investments, investing $73 million into AI in 2020, with predictions that the value of the AI market across the Emirates will reach $1.9 billion by 2026.

The country is also taking clear steps to effectively recognize the best-in-class innovators with the UAE AI seal (UAI), a marker introduced to recognize high-quality, ethical AI companies. The aim being to attract further talent and businesses from across the globe.

Related: Entrepreneurship Education Is Key To The Success Of MENA Economies

AI technology is evolving rapidly. Breakthroughs and runaways in the space will be dependent on an agile and collaborative environment. One that is centered on the sharing of ideas and expertise. And on a contagious desire to work hard and push the boundaries.

Dubai, in my opinion, is in a unique position to facilitate all of this, and as a result, host the industry dominating AI technologies of the near future. The city sits between the East and the West, able to poach talent and trade knowledge and information with business hubs across the world. And it's brimming with determined and forward-thinking entrepreneurs. Most of all, there is an appetite for innovation here that I haven't felt on the same level anywhere else.

Dubai has the location, entrepreneurial atmosphere, ambition, and regulatory environment to lead in the AI space. The benefits to Dubai would be immense. It would be the foundation, incubator, and host of countless world- and life-changing technologies. And the city's reputation would reach new heights, drawing in yet more innovative tech entrepreneurs.

AI innovations emerging here will also cement the city's status as a boundary-pushing smart city. AI-driven automation will drive efficiency and cost saving, allowing for further infrastructure investment. Automation will also create more time for lifestyle activities- one of the major reasons I personally moved to Dubai. This will further strengthen the city's hand in attracting the top talent needed to fuel tech advancements.

AI is of course also a lucrative business. Goldman Sachs report that generative AI could result in a 7% increase in global gross domestic product (GDP), and boost productivity growth by 1.5% over the next decade. Any tech hub that can grasp a significant slice of this burgeoning industry will see rapid growth- a gleaming prospect during the current economic climate.

I firmly believe Dubai's strategic shift towards AI could win it a spot on the podium in the AI race. But the path to success is never guaranteed. The rest of the world is, of course, acutely aware of the huge potential of AI- and the current leaders in the sector, such as OpenAI, are still based in the "old guard" tech hubs such as Silicon Valley. Dubai is a newcomer to the race, and it undeniably has a steep hill to climb if it is to stand up to the tech hubs that have dominated for decades. But it has all the ingredients needed to make the challenge- and succeed.

Related: Here's How We Should Prepare Our Youth For The Economy Of The Future

David von Rosen is an international investor and serial entrepreneur, having founded globally successful businesses across numerous sectors. He is the founder of online gaming site Lottoland, fashion label VONROSEN, boutique property developer 25 Degrees, and Web3-powered Favrr, among other ventures. In 2006, von Rosen was selected as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in Davos, a program that brings together a community of people with the “vision, courage, and influence to drive positive change in the world.”

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