Abu Dhabi sets up ‘world’s first graduate level artificial intelligence university’

Abu Dhabi has created what it believes is the first graduate level, research-based AI university in the world.

The Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI) will introduce a new model of academia and research to the field of AI, providing students and faculty access to some of the world’s most advanced AI systems to unleash its potential for economic and societal development.

Experts from around the world have been selected for the university’s Board of Trustees. They include:

  • MBZUAI interim president, Professor Sir Michael Brady, professor of oncological imaging at the University of Oxford, UK;
  • Professor Anil K. Jain, a university distinguished professor at Michigan State University, US;
  • Professor Andrew Chi-Chih Yao, dean of the Institute for Interdisciplinary Information Sciences at Tsinghua University, Beijing, China;
  • Dr Kai-Fu Lee, a technology executive and venture capitalist based in Beijing, China;
  • Professor Daniela Rus, director of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), US;
  • Peng Xiao, CEO of Group 42.

The university is named after His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and deputy supreme commander of the UAE Armed Forces, a keen advocate for the UAE’s development of human capital through knowledge and scientific thinking.

His Excellency Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE minister of state, who has been appointed chair of the MBZUAI Board of Trustees and is spearheading the establishment of the university, said it is an open invitation from Abu Dhabi to the world to unleash AI’s full potential. “AI is already changing the world, but we can achieve so much more if we allow the limitless imagination of the human mind to fully explore it,” he said.

The UAE made AI a strategic national priority in 2017, announcing a clear roadmap for an AI-driven future through the UAE’s Strategy for Artificial Intelligence 2031, and the appointment of the world’s first minister of state for artificial intelligence. Experts now estimate that, by 2030, AI’s contribution to the UAE’s GDP will rise to nearly 14% – the largest GDP share in the Middle East.

MBZUAI will offer Master of Science (MSc) and PhD level programmes in key areas of AI – Machine Learning, Computer Vision, and Natural Language Processing – while also engaging policymakers and businesses around the world so that AI is harnessed responsibly as a force for positive transformation.

Professor Sir Michael Brady said: “Following decades of research into machine learning and artificial intelligence, we are now at a turning point in the widespread application of advanced intelligence. That evolution is, among other things, creating exciting new career opportunities in nearly every sector of society. At MBZUAI, we will support students to capture those opportunities and to magnify their contribution to the field of AI globally.”

MBZUAI will provide all admitted students with a full scholarship, plus benefits such as a monthly allowance, health insurance, and accommodation. The university will work with leading local and global companies to secure internships, and will also assist students in finding employment opportunities.

Graduate students can now apply to MBZUAI via the university’s website with registration set to open in August 2020. The first class of graduate students will begin coursework at MBZUAI’s Masdar City campus in September 2020.

For more information, visit

Image: MBZUAI Board of Trustees launching the AI university.

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  1. This is truly exciting, since AI is definitely in its infancy, definitely born and here to stay and grow. This will be a world leader and should be very tempting for students wishing to research further in this field. Best of luck to all involved.

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