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Meet Jais, The UAE’s Latest Arabic-Speaking AI Model

He’s culturally sensitive too

Artificial intelligence (AI) is finding its way into almost every industry. The emerging technology can create text, images, code, and we are still to fully discover what other breakthroughs it has in store for us. However, the artificially-created brain was only communicating in English, now, with its latest developments in the region, Abu Dhabi has recently unveiled an Arabic AI model, available for use by the world’s 400 million-plus Arabic speakers. 

Described to be the world’s highest quality Arabic AI software, the model is known as Jais— named after the highest point in the UAE in Ras Al Khaimah. The bilingual model built on a trove of Arabic and English data is a collaboration between G42, an AI company chaired by the UAE’s national security advisor, Sheikh Tahoon bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Abu Dhabi’s Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI), and Cerebras, an AI company based in California. 

The launch comes as the UAE and Saudi Arabia have been purchasing thousands of high-performance Nvidia chips, which are in short supply and needed for AI software amid a global rush to secure supplies to fuel AI development.

As stated in Reuters, due to the fact that there is not enough Arabic data to train a model of Jais’ size, the computer code within the English language data helped train the model’s ability to reason, according to Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence professor, Timothy Baldwin. 

In addition to high quality Arabic, Jais has been carefully designed to have a more accurate understanding of the culture and context in the region, in contrast to most US-centric models, added Baldwin, acting provost of MBZUAI to the Financial Times. He also said that specific guardrails had been created to ensure that Jais “does not step outside of reasonable bounds in terms of cultural and religious sensibilities.”

Not only is Jais able to utilize modern standard Arabic, but the AI is also able to adapt to the region’s diverse spoken dialects by drawing on both media, social media, and code, according to the Financial Times

It took 21 days to train the AI on a subset of Cerebras’s Condor Galaxy 1 AI supercomputer by a team in Abu Dhabi. G42 has already put in efforts to to get the technology up and running within companies, as they teamed up with partners Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, wealth fund Mubadala, and Etihad Airways. 

Additionally several public and private organizations in the UAE signed on Jais as launch partners including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology, the Department of Health. 

Since its advent, one major debate revolving around artificial intelligence is about its inclusion and diversity, and Jais is certainly a step in the right direction. 

Illustration by Micha Huigen 


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