Qatar is leading the world in AI; here’s how

Lana Khalaf, General Manager, Microsoft QatarBy Lana Khalaf, General Manager, Microsoft Qatar

“An advanced society capable of sustaining its development and providing a high standard of living for its people.” – That is the essence of Vision 2030 – a bold declaration by our leaders of how they see our future. As we celebrate another National Day, it is apt to reflect on how far we have come and how close we are to this vision. It is no exaggeration to dub 2023 the “Year of AI”. Artificial intelligence has come to dominate conversations from the server room to the boardroom. And no wonder – for it has proven itself time and time again in use cases across the region. The recent rise of generative AI models has merely served as the final punctuation on a thesis already written – AI is baked into our future.

Qatar is a leading light in the region’s AI journey, having passed extraordinary milestones and unlocked countless opportunities. The National AI Strategy, launched in 2019, provided a comprehensive understanding of AI’s pivotal role in shaping the 21st century. The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) has tirelessly championed an environment conducive to AI innovation, resulting in a flourishing landscape. Numbers talk, and they predict annual growth of 17.4%, propelling Qatar’s AI market to an estimated $58.8 million by 2026.

Throughout this transformation, Microsoft, as a committed partner to the country and the government, has collaborated with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) in catalysing Qatar’s evolution into a regional digital and AI hub – a commitment aligned with our mission to empower every individual and organization to innovate in the digital age, and achieve more. We are facilitating access to advanced AI models for organizations across Qatar, with solutions like Microsoft AI, Azure AI, Azure OpenAI and Copilot. Across the country, organizations are leveraging our AI breakthroughs to boost productivity, increase efficiency, enhance security, reduce costs, and drive innovation – here’s how:

Delivering unparalleled experiences

Hukoomi was one of the first government entities in the region to put Azure OpenAI Service and GPT to work, offering government entities advanced AI models to revolutionize citizen experiences, while maximizing value outcomes. Building on its success in leveraging the cloud, AI, and data to deliver a seamless experience during the FIFA World Cup, Hayya evolved from its central role during the championship to support the country becoming a global tourism and events hub. Qatar Foundation harnessed Microsoft Azure AI Cognitive Services to create its bilingual chatbot, BOTaina. Similarly, Invest Qatar is using AI to power Ai.SHA, its first AI-powered chatbot to create unique experiences for investors locally and internationally.

Empowering better decisions

Such is the impact of AI – societal, commercial, and economic – that Qatar’s Ministry of Labour used it to build a model for all government entities that would allow them access to labor-market insights to help make informed decisions on sustainable development.

Advancing sustainability

In line with the Qatar National Environment and Climate Change Strategy, which stresses the need for a balance between economic growth, social development, and environmental preservation, Microsoft is supporting Expo2023 Doha as the  Exclusive Technology Partner, where we are showcasing the latest data and AI innovations to help organizations in Qatar make data-driven decisions to set and achieve their own climate goals, while also driving business growth and innovation.

Driving research and innovation

AI is also helping businesses improve their core offerings. The National Museum of Qatar is using AI to power its NMoQ Explorer, opening doors to diverse local and international audiences through a virtual museum platform for engagement and learning.

Behold the impact

Behold the impact of AI – its power to transform, optimize, democratize, and empower. Qatar’s commitment to technological advancement is evident in the case studies described here. While it is fitting to note these successful cases on National Day, in the Year of AI, we should also remember that they merely scratch the surface of what the country has achieved in the field – tackling community challenges and advancing the national digital economy.

Of course, work remains to be done. Private enterprises, both tech and non-tech, must work with educational institutions from K12 to post-grad to cultivate a highly skilled workforce that will steer us through our AI future. The National Skilling Program, a partnership between MCIT and Microsoft, was launched in 2022 to equip 50,000 people with advanced digital skills, including AI. To date, more than 30,000 professionals have been trained.

In Qatar, AI will be a force for good – creating jobs and enhancing global competitiveness. The nation will continue to lead regionally and globally through its strong research institutions, passionate entrepreneurial spirit, and steadfast commitment to digital transformation.

From all of us at Microsoft, Happy National Day, Qatar.

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