Smart Dubai and IBM to establish Data Science Lab

Smart Dubai and IBM to establish Data Science Lab
(l-r): Amr Refaat of IBM and Younus Al Nasser, Smart Dubai.
Published: 23 October 2018 - 12:11 p.m.
By: Mark Sutton

Smart Dubai and IBM will collaborate to establish a Data Science Lab in the emirate.

The two organisations have signed an MoU to create a lab to develop data science skills and collaboration, as well as to host a Chief Data Officer (CDO) Summit in Dubai next year.

The lab is intended to create a data ecosystem for the UAE to improve skills in data science, encourage knowledge sharing and advance new technologies in the sector. IBM will provide skills and expertise on data science, artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics for the lab.

The MoU was signed at the UN World Data Forum 2018, held at Dubai's Madinat Jumeirah on October 22-24, 2018.

Smart Dubai also aims to collaborate with IBM to look into organising a Chief Data Officer Summit. The Summit will aim to bring together thought leaders and decision makers in the data science sector from the region and underline the importance of CDO Leadership.

HE Younus Al Nasser, Assistant Director General of Smart Dubai, CEO of the Dubai Data Establishment, said: "Guided by the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai, the Emirate of Dubai has undergone a sweeping and rapid shift towards advanced technologies, embracing them in its plans to become a world-leading smart city. Hosting the UN World Data Forum in Dubai reflects the emirate's - and the UAE's - prominent status in the digital sector.

"As the Government entity entrusted with driving that transformation, Smart Dubai has sought to harness the power of data - also known as the ‘Oil of the Future' - as a key component of the smart city of the future," Al Nasser added.

"With the signing of today's agreement with technology pioneers IBM, Smart Dubai can confidently move forward with our plans to establish a dedicated Data Science Lab to allow us and all of our partners to harness the latest technological developments and explore data's potential to improve people's lives and secure Dubai's future."

"At IBM, we believe that enterprises - and the professionals who serve them - will succeed or fail because of data," said Amr Refaat, general manager, IBM Middle East and Pakistan. "Despite the seemingly growing adoption of analytics and machine learning, some organisations are still not able to realize value from their data work. This is where data science serves its purpose in mining this data and deriving insights from it, enabling organizations to make strategic decisions."

The MoU outlines a set of roles and contributions Smart Dubai will be providing, namely: Provide a physical location for the Data Science Lab; host a quarterly Data Science Think Tank event; communicate with government entities; promote training and engagement with government entities to enable data science projects; conduct one Data Science Hackathon; and manage an internship programme in the Data Science Lab for UAE nationals.

In terms of the agreement, IBM aims to support the Data Science Lab to carry out pilot projects and assess feasibility; share the latest advancements in data science; provide data science training; facilitate design thinking workshops; and help Smart Dubai organise and manage the Chief Data Officer Summit.

The Memorandum of Understanding focuses on four key domains: Facilitating design thinking workshops for identifying impactful ‘big ideas'; launching data science pilots to explore opportunities for data-driven use cases; supporting data scientists in Dubai; outlining collaboration plans for the proposed Chief Data Officer Summit.

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