By Gavin Gibbon
Omar Al Olama believes embracing new technologies is in the hands of the youth in the Middle East
The Middle East is currently at a crossroads with the opportunities presented through the latest technology, and it is up to the youth of the region to grasp these opportunities, according to Omar Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence in the UAE.
Olama was speaking at the Google for MENA event and stressed how learning lessons from the past would help shape the region’s future.
He referred to the invention of the Guttenburg Printing Press in 1455, which was subsequently banned in the Middle East.
He said: “It was welcomed by every single civilisation. It was the reason for Renaissance in Europe and it was the reason for the development in Asia; and it was also the reason for the Middle East’s demise.
“An invention that was necessary to transform people’s minds, to bring a new realm of knowledge enlightenment for people.”
The 29-year-old told the audience at Dubai Opera, the region now finds itself in a similar position to almost 400 years ago, but the outcome, this time, must be different.
“Today, if we look at artificial intelligence and if we look at technology, we are the year 1455. We see this technology, we know its impact, but we need to ensure we play a fundamental role in ensuring that this grows and comes out of the region for the rest of the world,” he said.
He revealed that there are currently 110 million people in the Middle East classed as ‘youth’, but said “there’s also a youth of mindset, being able to continuously learn and continuously develop and being able to feel like you’re going to be a part of the future, and a positive future. And if the future is not something you like, you will take a decision and make a difference.”
He said the region’s positioning, between Africa and India, with the world’s resources at its fingertips, is another huge asset.
“We do have the parameters to succeed, all we need is the mindset and all we need is to rally the youth to work towards that vision,” he added.