UAE gives boost to women and technology at Government Summit

The two major initiatives were announced at the Government Summit in Dubai on Tuesday

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The United Arab Emirates announced two new major initiatives aimed at promoting the role of women and technology at this year’s Government Summit on Tuesday held in Dubai.

The creation of the UAE Gender Balance Council and the launch of the UAE Robots and Artificial Intelligence for Good award, were announced on Tuesday, the second day of the summit.

The Gender Balance Council will be aimed at boosting the representation and role of women as ‘key partners in building the nation’s future,’ local media reported.

The UAE Gender Balance Council will be chaired by the President of Dubai Women’s Establishment, and wife of Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs Sheikha Manal Bint Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Speaking at the summit Sheikha Manal said: “The impact of a significant female presence in leadership roles has wide-ranging benefits on the economy, on governance, and on society at large. The UAE has always worked to dismantle barriers that create tension between the genders. We have a great opportunity to uncover new paths that we may walk on together.”

‘AI for Good’ award

Also announced on Tuesday was the launch of Dubai Crown Prince Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s UAE Robots and Artificial Intelligence for Good award, that will see $1 million (Dh3.67 million) awarded for an international project and AED 1 million ($272,260) for a UAE national scheme.

A panel of expert judges will decide the winners who will be awarded in the next summit in 2016.

Contestants will have to develop a robot/artificial intelligence application that will serve a useful purpose, as well as provide added value to a process and/or society in three categories: education, health, and social services.

The announcement followed last week’s Drones for Good competition, also launched by Sheikh Mohammad, held in Dubai’s Media City - which saw the local prize awarded to WADI Drone - created by students New York University in Abu Dhabi - to help monitor wildlife and protect it from poachers. The international prize was given to Swiss company Flyability’s Collision-Resistant drone.

Minister of Cabinet Affairs and Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the Government Summit Mohammad Al Gergawi explained that while the technology might be new, the mathematical theory of algorithms ‘originated in the region in the eighth century,’ the newspaper added.

He said: “This is a process, it is not something that started today. It is algorithm that directs the world today. We want to send a message that people in our region are also creators and innovators.”

On the idea that robotics and AI should be taught at UAE schools he added: “In the UAE, young Emiratis are skilled. The education system is changing with the changes in the world.”

The award launch came the same day a new super computer named Watson – created by IBM – was announced. The computer is billed as the ‘next technological breakthrough’, which will be able to consume vast amounts of data and then use it to predict future outcomes and save lives.

Watson will be able to predict flooding, traffic jams, and analyze patient’s data to predict when they will fall sick.