France and UAE sign AI cooperation deal

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France and the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday signed a “strategic partnership” on artificial intelligence (AI) aimed at boosting cooperation between them, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told AFP.

The agreement signed with Khaldoon Al Mubarak, managing director of the Abu Dhabi government-controlled fund Mubadala, opens “a new era of economic cooperation” in the burgeoning sector, Le Maire said.

“France has chosen to be the leading country in Europe on AI, and for that, we need partners,” he said during a visit to the Gulf state at the head of a delegation of entrepreneurs and start-ups.

“Four new areas of cooperation will be opened and developed in the coming months,” including research and skill development, part of which will be done via the Abu Dhabi branch of the Sorbonne, Paris’s main university, Le Maire said.

The agreement will also facilitate investment in data centres and the semiconductor industry, he said.

The UAE has already invested in a semiconductor production plant in France.

“We want to accelerate the deployment of these investments and expand them,” Le Maire said.

The oil-rich UAE aims to become a global AI leader over the next decade.

In 2017, it became the first country in the world to appoint a minister of state for artificial intelligence, digital economy and remote work.

In April, US tech giant Microsoft announced a $1.5-billion investment in UAE-based artificial intelligence firm G42.

The company is chaired by Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE’s national security adviser and brother of President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

A Republican congressman accused G42 of maintaining ties with Chinese companies such as Huawei that are blacklisted in the United States, but G42 in January categorically denied the allegations.

The AI agreement follows growing economic ties between France and the UAE in recent years.

In 2021, the UAE signed a landmark deal for 80 French-made Rafale fighter jets, an order valued at around $15 billion.

France also has a permanent military base in the Emirati capital Abu Dhabi.

Le Maire said Paris was “open to the possibility” of UAE investment in France’s nuclear power infrastructure, calling this “a sign of great trust” between the two countries.



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