Media Coverage Archives — Carrington Malin

April 26, 2024

The Middle East region has limited oversight and no real regulation for AI, however the technology’s influence is growing fast is already having a growing impact in recruitment, HR, banking, healthcare and security.

The fast-growing role of artificial intelligence is creating a growing need for Middle East AI regulation and governance. The influence of AI technologies is growing fast and can already impact who gets a job, who is eligible for a loan, and even what kind of medical treatment a patient receives.

MIT Sloan Management Review Middle East asked me to comment on the region’s AI policymaking related to ethics and governance, and also how businesses in the region are dealing with these issues.

Ethics, governance and responsible AI has definitely been added to government agendas during the past few years, as countries in the Middle East strive to embrace AI effectively and take their place in the global AI ecosystem. As a result, there are an increasing number of guidelines and policy frameworks developed by government departments, regulators, and public authorities in the region.

The Middle East is certainly watching the progress of the EU AI Act, and we expect to see AI regulation come into the Middle East. I think, as with the GDPR Act, it inspired more data protection laws worldwide and continues to do so. And so, that’s a role that the EU AI Act might play.

The question is when will AI governance policies make it into legislation. The recent passing of the EU AI Act may prompt some countries to being introducing legislation, but the truth is that no one really knows when the EU AI Act will come into effect and what revisions may be made before that happens.

However, in my view – due to the speed at which AI is accelerating, the sheer volume of use cases and its far-reaching impact – sitting back and waiting for government regulation should not be an option. Organisations, individuals and tech firms can help ensure a better AI future today, by embracing best practices for ethics and governance, and choosing products and services that make a commitment to the ethical, responsible and transparent use of AI.

You can read May El Habachi’s full article in MIT Sloan Management Review here:

March 9, 2024

Exploring Saudi Arabia’s ambitious leap into the domain of artificial intelligence

Saudi Arabia’s ambitious AI goals have raised eyebrows at times during the past few years. Some were just not prepared to believe that a country with virtually no AI development, few coders or data scientists, and a technology ecosystem that consisted mostly of sales, marketing and distribution could cut it as an AI hub, on any level.

Undeterred, the country has methodically implemented, improved and developed its National Strategy for Data and AI, investing strategically in digital transformation, upskilling digital talent, backing R&D and incentivising technology entrepreneurs and leading tech companies to come to Saudi Arabia. Just three years later it’s already apparent that the Kingdom is moving mountains to achieve its AI goals and now stands at the dawn of a new era.

I was proud to be asked to comment on Saudi Arabia’s meteoric progress in the official magazine for LEAP 2024, which took place this month.

Saudi Arabia intends to be a world leader in AI and obviously has the ability to use oil revenues to invest heavily where needed. So, the biggest immediate challenges are the right skilled talent and regulatory policy that impacts AI. The Kingdom has surprised doubters by moving fast and purposely to meet both of these challenges. The speed and scale of the education and training programmes introduced so far across the country as been breathtaking.

While many governments around the world have lagged in implementing AI compared to the private sector, the Saudi government has led the charge.

The early outcomes of Saudi Arabia’s strategy, commitment and investment were plain to see at this year’s LEAP event in Riyadh. Attended by tech luminaries such as IBM CEO Arvind Krishna, Amazon Web Services CEO Adam Selipsky, ServiceNow chairman and CEO Bill McDermott, Ericsson CEO Borje Ekholm and UiPath CEO Rob Enslin, the event saw more than $13 billion of new tech investments announced.

The government’s commitment to AI R&D, AI skills and AI adoption was clearly visible, illustrated by backing its Riyadh-based Generative AI startup accelerator with $1 billion. However, there was also proof of local AI development, with Saudi Aramco announcing a 250 billion parameter industrial grade large language model, while local tech firm Matad revealed an Arabic language LLM developed entirely in the Kingdom using Saudi data.

One of the most powerful takeaways from LEAP 2024 was a comment from Jonathan Ross, the Founder and CEO of AI chip developer Groq, trying to make sense of Saudi Arabia’s massive investment in digital infrastructure:

“We started Groq in Silicon Valley because there was opportunity, but AI runs on compute and as you deploy this compute [in Saudi Arabia] I think this could be the place where the opportunity is going forward.”

I can only agree!

You can read Megha Merani‘s ‘The dawn of a new era’ feature, quoting me in in LEAP Magazine here (PDF).

February 9, 2024

Saudi Arabia appoints ex-Dell Technologies executive to lead the new $100 billion electronics manufacturing group Alat, formed recently by Public Investment Fund (PIF).

In February, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Public Investment Fund (PIF), announced the formation of an advanced technologies, electronics and semiconductor manufacturer.

Called Alat (‘machines’ in Arabic), the new company will focus on manufacturing smart products for consumers, business and industry. The company will manufacture to serve local and international markets, and will help to make Saudi Arabia a global hub for sustainable technology manufacturing.

Business computers and consumer electronics spring to mind when many people think of electronics and semiconductor sector, but of course every industrial sector today uses such technology from aviation to automobiles, and from healthcare to oil production.

Saudi Arabia’s investment in AI and IoT for smart cities is driving demand for millions of microprocessors and controllers.

One big user of electronics and semiconductor products in Saudi Arabia is its fast growing smart cities sector. The government agreed a smart city strategy a few years ago, to improve the quality of life of citizens, achieving financial sustainability, and improving the quality of services. The new magacity NEOM is well known as a smart city project, or ‘cognitive city’. However, the smart city strategy includes all major cities in Saudi Arabia. Thus cities across the Kingdom are being equipped with sensors, IoT devices and smart controllers for transport management, building management, energy management, public safety and smart public services.

The Circuit asked me to comment on the launch of Alat and the opportunity for the new company to capitalise on the country’s electronics and semiconductor needs. There is massive potential for the new Alat company in Saudi Arabia’s industrial sector, to include manufacturing and smart cities.

Saudi Arabia’s investment in AI and IoT for smart cities is driving demand for millions of microprocessors and controllers. With both greenfield sites, including NEOM, and large-scale transformation plans for existing cities, such as Riyadh and Jeddah, there are significant opportunities for the country to manufacture smart electronics and reduce dependence on foreign imports.

However, there are many challenges, among them the fact that the country doesn’t have much of an electronics ecosystem to build on. So, building out this new sector will require both a carefully planned ecosystem that will connect with other local, regional and global ecosystems over time, and cherry-picking the most productive, highest value short-term investments.

You can read UAE Editor Kelsey Warner‘s full story in The Circuit here.

September 1, 2023

G42 Group’s Inception, Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence and Cerebras Systems announced a 13 billion parameter bilingual Arabic-English large language model, trained in just 21 days.

The supercomputer Condor Galaxy 1, developed by US-based AI chip maker Cerebras Systems, and announced just a few weeks ago was recently used to train a new 13 billion parameter bilingual Arabic-English large language model (or LLM) called Jais. It allowed researchers to compete the ‘production training’ of the new AI model in 21 day: a process that could have taken several months on alternative high performance computer systems.

It’s common for LLMs to take months to train, but Jais was trained in just 21 days,”

Arabian Gulf Business Insight (AGBI) asked me to comment on the development and the promise of the Cerebras-G42 collaboration to build the world’s biggest supercomputer network.

It’s actually a complex topic, because of the not only the speed of development of new artificial intelligence models and the AI-friendly high performance computer systems that run them, but also the rapid rise of Abu Dhabi’s AI R&D ecosystem. Abu Dhabi-based researchers have now developed a series of different LLM models, including Falcon 40B, which was ranked first on Hugging Face’s index of open source LLMs earlier this year.

It is no wonder that G42 has decided to invest in the latest supercomputers to provide for the growing need of AI researchers. As a result of the expertised gained, both at home, and via collaborations such as the one with Cerebras Systems, Abu Dhabi technology organisations are gaining world-class capabilities that they could sell globally. The demand for both AI models and the computers that train them is only going to grow!

You can read UAE-based journalist Megha Merani‘s full story in AGBI here.

Meanwhile, you can read my article on Inception’s new Jais 13B LLM here:

August 29, 2023

There are powerful forces driving the Middle East’s unmanned systems sector, but perhaps the biggest catalyst for focusing the attention of the US Navy and that of its partners on integrating unmanned systems with naval operations so far has been 5th Fleet-based Task Force 59.

Captain George Galdorisi, writing for the Center for International Maritime Security (CIMSEC) wrote about the Digital Horizon naval exercise, which took place in the Arabian Gulf last year. The exercise set out to trial and test the integration of unmanned systems, AI and big data analysis with traditional naval forces. He was kind enough to credit some of my analysis on Task Force 59’s activities, originally published in Middle East AI News.

You can read Capt. George Galdorisi‘s full story in The Maritime Executive here.

You can also read my original article on Task Force 59 here:

August 19, 2023

We are moving into a new era enabled by artificial intelligence, with both enormous potential and enormous risk. This makes AI and access to AI technologies a growing geopolitical issue.

The Middle East is buying a lot of AI chips, but an FT news story, which came close to claiming that Saudi Arabia and the UAE are hoarding processors, stirred up some global controversy!

The focus from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on computational research and development across government, national companies and academia, has resulted in an upswing in the demand for high performance computing power. For example, HP is currently building Shaheen III a 100 petaFLOP supercomputer for KAUST (King Abdulla University for Science and Technology). That system alone will use nearly 3,000 NVIDIA Grace Hopper Superchips.

Arabian Gulf Business Insight (AGBI) asked me to comment on the global availability of AI chips, the demands for high performance computing in the Middle East and whether AI chip supply and pricing could become as critical as the oil price. My answer: unequivocally, yes!

The availability, pricing and geopolitics of access to AI chips may well start to look a lot like oil,”

As the world relies on AI more and more. So access to high-end processors will become more and more critical. In that respect, the availability, pricing and geopolitics of access to AI chips may well start to look a lot like oil.

You can read UAE-based journalist Megha Merani‘s full story in AGBI here.

August 8, 2023

Dubai Centre for Artificial Intelligence could prove to be an ideal hub for global tech founders looking to co-create future technology applications.

I was recently asked for my views on the opportunities for Indian AI startups in Dubai and my answer was, naturally, that Dubai and the UAE as a whole offers great potential for many AI startups. And I’m not just saying that because I’m based in the UAE. The crucial difference between the UAE and many other countries, is that it not only ‘talks the talk’, but it also ‘walks the walk’!

I am frequently find myself impressed by how fast the government moves to create new programmes that help its AI policies gain traction. Teams in government departments across the country are actively looking for the most innovative AI technologies and solutions all the time. So, if you’re the founder of an AI startup that solves a new problem for government, public services or national issues in general, there’s going to be someone, somewhere in a government department that would like to talk to you.

The UAE holds great potential for many AI startups, most of all because the government actually ‘walks the talk’!

The recently created Dubai Centre for AI, which was announced in June 2023, hopes to accelerate Dubai government efforts even further. The new centre has already organised innovation programmes in 30 different government entities to identify AI use cases and implement solutions. Meanwhile, in July the Dubai Future Foundation launched a programme to encourage pilot schemes for generative AI tech in government departments.

The UAE is, no doubt, a fiercely competitive technology market and developers do need to ensure their plans are grounded in reality. However, for the foreseeable future, there is that opportunity to engage with enthusiastic government departments and authorities that are on the lookout for new, innovative approaches.

You can read UAE-based journalist  Megha Merani‘s full story in The Times of India here.

April 16, 2023

Sam Altman is expected to meet policymakers in Dubai, as part of his world tour, but we’re only one big scandal away from a global crackdown.

The OpenAI CEO is expected to visit Dubai as part of his 16 stop global tour in May-June to meet with customers, developers and policymakers Since Altman’s visit follows the Elon Musk-backed open letter to halt additional development and training of LLMs like GPT and Italy’s banning of ChatGPT at the end of March, the question of AI regulation is, no doubt, being quickly pushed up regulators’ agendas.

Arabian Gulf Business Insight (AGBI) asked me why he is making this world tour and why now is the right time to talk to policymakers. In short, time is of the essence!

Italy’s ChatGPT ban over concerns about data privacy, lack of age restrictions and ChatGPT’s potential to misinform people at scale, provides a clear signal that OpenAI needs to open up channels with regulators worldwide to ensure that they feel they understand ChatCPT and the company’s plans a little better. Other regulators have these same concerns and it’s a significant challenge for regulators to keep abreast of how this fast-moving technology will affect existing laws, rights and data regulations

If OpenAI expects to keep releasing new more powerful versions, it needs to help set expectations now. So, it would be natural to expect there to be  dialogue between OpenAI and regulators, with OpenAI sharing what regulators can expect from its platforms, and regulators sharing their needs and concerns.

The more regulators feel ill informed or that laws are being ignored, the greater the risk of further bans. As with any new, little understood, technology, we’re only one big scandal away from a crackdown.”

As with any new, little understood technology, we’re only one big scandal away from a crackdown. So, it’s well worth OpenAI’s time to put some work now into keeping regulators informed.

You can read UAE-based journalist Megha Merani‘s full story in AGBI here

January 16, 2023

In early January 2023, Dubai Economic Agenda ‘D33’ was approved by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai. Among the economic goals, Dubai aims to create 30 unicorns (normally a startup valued at $1 billion or more) by 2033.

I was asked by MEED, a leading Middle East business intelligence service, to comment on whether it is possible for Dubai to create a unicorn almost every year and how this might be achieved..

Dubai has never been afraid of setting bold goals and has gained a reputation for meeting them, more often than not. However, creating 30 companies valued at $1 billion in just 10 years? Is that possible?

Globally, unicorn startups tend to be early movers in the biggest new tech sectors. To become a unicorn startups must find a way of tapping into or creating a new fast growing market that will make an impact on a global scale. Such startups are formed by risk-takers that are able to scale their companies very quickly, and that can attract enough venture capital funding to make that possible.

A big plus in Dubai’s favour is that it has been actively seeking out and targeting the most promising future economy sectors and building programmes into its economic plans. Recent initiatives aim to encourage new, fast growing companies in artificial intelligence, robotics cryptocurrency, blockchain and metaverse technologies. It is early days, but sectors such as these are among the world’s fastest growing.

The city also provides an evironment where international businesses thrive, located at the crossroads of Africa. Asia and Europe, with world class business facilities. Dubai was recently ranked first regionally and fifth worldwide in the World’s Best Cities report 2023, which ranked the best global cities to live, work, invest and visit.

“Venture capital in the region has always concentrated on the near term, forcing deep technology (deep tech) startups to leave the Middle East in order to get funding. Dubai will need to attract investors that have both the vision and the expertise to invest in deep tech.”

So, Dubai is ideally located to target some of the fastest growing regions of the world. has a reputation for entrepreneurship and is a great place to live, work and invest. So, what’s missing?

In my mind, the missing piece of the puzzle could be the venture capital to fund the type of cutting-edge startups that will become unicorns. The Middle East region has always been a little conservative when it comes to investing in tech ventures. Although things are changing fast, it is often the most forward-thinking startups that are passed over by VCs in the region. To support a volume of startups in the world’s fastest growing new tech sectors, Dubai will need to encourage the investors that are focusing on those new sectors too.

If you are a MEED subscriber, you can read Jennifer Aguinaldo’s full article here.

January 24, 2022

GCC tech in 2022: another big year for innovation? Last year saw a long list of government initiatives in the GCC to accelerate digital transformation, encourage innovation in government and create policies to encourage Fourth Industrial Revolution industries. Recently, I was interviewed by ZDNet’s Damian Radcliffe for his article on ‘the biggest trends shaping the digital future of the Middle East‘.

I have no doubt that 2022 will prove to be an exciting year for artificial intelligence and emerging technologies in the Middle East. There have been so many government initiatives, policy moves, proof of concepts and trials across public and private sectors, not to mention investments in new ventures and R&D over the past year, it’s difficult to simply keep track of the developments already in motion! However, I believe we’ll have plenty of new ventures, projects and initiatives to look forward to in 2022 too.

However, beyond the addition of more impressive sounding new government initiatives, I believe that we’re going to see more real evidence of initiatives and programmes set in process during the past 2-3 years bearing fruit. For example, the UAE published its first AI strategy in 2017. Now, nearly five years on, the strategy (which has been updated a number of times) has informed the launch of new initiatives across UAE education, skills development in government, investment, new projects and new organisations, public services and regulation. In Saudi Arabia, the progress made on data and AI at a government level, has paved the way for a new wave of government and private sector initiatives, companies, partnerships and investments.

As Damian’s article helps to illuminate, there are rapid changes taking place across the Middle East’s tech and telecom ecosystems, making the region an exciting place to be at the moment.

You can read Damian’s full article on Tech in 2022 in the Middle East region here.