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In the GCC, governments have started to adopt AI as a means to realize their national agendas. Exploring Qatar specifically, this country already has several AI-focused programs as the Qatari government builds on AI’s potential for economic growth and development.

According to an Oliver Wyman report, a number of GCC nations have already developed AI strategies to support their national visions, including the United Arab Emirates in 2017, Qatar in 2019, and Saudi Arabia in 2020. Investments in the area of AI have been made since recognizing its contribution to global economic growth, with GCC AI spending expected to increase at a CAGR of 19% by 2023.

AI adoption in Qatar

There is already a major push for AI adoption in both the public and private sectors in Qatar. In support of the National AI Strategy, one of the leading drivers for AI adoption within the country is the Smart Qatar TASMU digital transformation program. TASMU is using AI and analytics across different sectors to deliver impact on areas of national importance. A number of these projects have already achieved nationwide recognition.

Moreover, the Qatar Center for Artificial Intelligence (QCAI) is of major significance in this context since it introduces AI strategy as an enabler to the Qatar National Vision 2030. QCAI’s role is to advise Qatar’s leadership on the potential of AI to secure the State’s economic and strategic future. An AI Committee has recently been established under Qatar’s Ministry Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) to build on this national AI strategy and to coordinate the efforts across the government to plan and implement AI programs.

AI center of excellence

The Oliver Wyman report expounded how the Qatari government will need to address five core AI strategy pillars in order to ensure that it develops a truly effective center of excellence (CoE).

The AI CoE will be created as a central entity to support local institutions and governmental bodies by providing expertise, identifying AI technology applications, prioritizing AI usage, and deploying scalable solutions. It will require a clearly defined vision, the right leadership, expertise, and resources, as well as appropriate governance and funding mechanisms to ensure its success.

In Qatar’s case, the CoE will ensure these solutions also meet the priorities of the national AI agenda. Responsibilities would include managing different stakeholder mandates, recruiting local and international talent, promoting data exchange, fostering local AI development, promoting AI leadership, ensuring best practices, and providing support and training.

Building an AI CoE can be an integral part of Qatar’s digital future and would be able to deliver impact at a national scale.

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