The United Arab Emirates government reshuffled its cabinet on October 19, announcing six new ministers, three of whom are entering new posts. One of these new posts is a ministry for Artificial Intelligence and another for Advanced Sciences, demonstrating the UAE’s recent emphasis on technology. Furthermore, of the six new ministers, three are women and five are in their twenties or thirties, making the cabinet one of the youngest and most gender-equitable in the UAE’s history.
Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE Shaikh Mohammad said that the State Minister for Artificial Intelligence is just one of the ways that the UAE wants to plan for the future and become the “world’s most prepared country for artificial intelligence.” In recent years, the UAE has invested heavily in technological projects: Dubai has invested in robot cops, a space agency, a mission to Mars, hyperloop projects, and autonomous vehicles. The UAE has also pursued 3D printing projects, which they hope to apply to the construction industry and medical and consumer products. For the UAE, investing in futuristic technology will diversify the economy and ensure future economic benefits in the form of decreased costs and increased productivity.
The cabinet reshuffle, coming only months after the UAE announced its 2071 Centennial Project in March, demonstrates the government’s determination to improve the country, particularly in the fields of “education, economy, government development, and community cohesion.” Additionally, the UAE has expressed its concern for future sustainability by appointing Mariam al Muhairy to the new position of Minister of State for Food Security. Al Muhairy previously worked in the Ministry of Climate Change and the Ministry of Environment and Water, where she addressed environmental education and awareness and issues of groundwater depletion in the UAE.
Minister for Artificial Intelligence Omar bin Sultan al Olama once led the UAE’s Artificial Intelligence Strategy. The UAE sees artificial intelligence as integral to its plan to lead the global revolution in technology, create a productive environment with the assistance of artificial intelligence, and reach its lofty goal of building homes on Mars in 2117. The Minister for Advanced Sciences is Sara Al Amiri, the former UAE Mars Mission Deputy Project Manager. Shaikh Mohammad stated that Al Amiri’s position will be to lead research and development and build a capable scientific workforce. The UAE unveiled its plan to create a simulation city of Mars in its desert only a month ago. This Mars Science City will cost $136 million and contain laboratories to replicate Mars’ environment, a museum of past space achievements, and areas for agricultural testing of food and water security. The cabinet shuffle further implements the UAE’s plan to continue promoting scientific development and technological advances.
On October 25, less than a week after the cabinet reshuffle, the UAE airline industry announcedits plans to create an Aviation X-Lab as another installment of the 2071 Centennial Plan. Aviation X-Lab will host summits where scientists from the engineering and transportation industries will form teams to work towards creating prototypes of human transportation and other innovations.