Abu Dhabi: The Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI), the world’s first graduate-level, research-based artificial intelligence university, has officially welcomed its first student cohort at a virtual event with students from across the world beginning their studies in Abu Dhabi this week.
H.E. Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and Chairman of the MBZUAI Board of Trustees, delivered a welcome speech emphasizing the critical importance of AI, especially during the pandemic, as well as in transforming industries to achieve greater outcomes.
He was joined by Professor Dr. Eric Xing, President of MBZUAI, as well as the student body, faculty, and staff from the University.
The event welcomed 78 students who have joined the University from 29 countries. MBZUAI’s first students were selected from thousands of applications received by the University from nearly 100 countries. The first cohort includes 13 PhD students and 65 MSc students, who have enrolled in MBZUAI’s Machine Learning and Computer Vision programs.
H.E. Dr. Al Jaber said: “I am delighted to welcome the first cohort of MBZUAI students, who represent a milestone in delivering our promise to establish a centre for AI development and research at a critical time as the world looks to technology to help power the post-COVID-19 recovery. With global expertise and a truly international student body hailing from 29 countries, the University will empower the UAE to become a leader in the field of AI, in alignment with the wise vision of the country’s leadership.”
H.E. Dr. Al Jaber added, “We are on the path towards leveraging AI as a truly transformative tool to support the UAE’s socio-economic development, taking advantage of and developing Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies, while leading the way forward in the use of AI to address some of the world’s greatest challenges.”
In addition to delivering world-class education, MBZUAI will apply its resources towards research and development, with a focus on four pillars: Services and Quality of Life, to improve services offered by the public and private sectors; Industrial and Manufacturing Technologies, to enhance efficiencies and improve productivity; Future Game Changers, to nurture the growth of new and emerging high value sectors, and Sustainability of Vital Resources and Environment, using AI to optimize the consumption of water and energy, in order to protect the environment for future generations.
Members of the MBZUAI Board of Trustees, composed of international experts, joined the event from around the world and commented on the progress of the University so far, while offering words of encouragement to the first cohort. The Board of Trustees comprises 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, USA; 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), USA, and Peng Xiao, CEO of Group 42.
MBZUAI President, Professor Dr. Eric Xing, set out his vision for the University, noting: “AI is one of the most transformational technologies of the modern age, providing tremendous opportunities for humankind. The vision for MBZUAI is to nurture a new generation of leaders in science, engineering, policy and business with the necessary understanding to unlock the potential of AI through their academic research and industrial applications. MBZUAI will address the national strategic priorities of the UAE and propel the country to become a pioneer in AI worldwide, setting the pace for the region in innovation and technology development.”
Prof Xing added, “We will deliver excellence in the field of AI education, research and development, through a world-class curriculum and collaborative projects with industry leaders. I would like to urge all of the students to develop the essential qualities of a technologist by challenging existing results from established researchers, thinking creatively, putting knowledge into practice and aspiring to become leaders who will change the world. I warmly welcome our first cohort of students, and look forward to working alongside them as we explore the future of AI.”
The student body, including 14 Emiratis, were given a detailed orientation to the University prior to the beginning of the academic year, and participated in a variety of academic activities. International students began arriving in Abu Dhabi in November to receive a cultural introduction to the UAE, and to complete COVID-19 health and safety precautionary measures as set out by Abu Dhabi health authorities.
MBZUAI offers a purpose-built, high-tech and eco-friendly campus, which includes smart classrooms and research laboratories, an AI-specialized knowledge center, and recreational facilities. All programs are taught by a distinguished faculty of subject experts from around the world.
Since the University was founded in October 2019, MBZUAI has achieved numerous milestones. These include several strategic partnerships for AI research and excellence with internationally-renowned organizations and educational establishments; hosting numerous delegations of political and academic leaders, and launching a series of expert-led webinars to build awareness and understanding of AI amongst the global community.
As the first academic year commences, the University is already accepting applications for the Fall 2021 start in MBZUAI’s Computer Vision and Machine Learning MSc and PhD programs. These programs are taught by a world-class faculty, overseen by the University’s Board of Trustees. Early admission closes on 15 January and regular admission deadline is on 15 April, with the next academic year starting in August 2021.
Eligible students must have at least a Bachelor’s degree in a relevant field in order to be considered for MBZUAI’s programs. Full admissions requirements and application details can be found on the University’s website, www.mbzuai.ac.ae.