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New AI Model from United Arab Emirates Challenges Big Tech

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A new open source GenAI model, which may compete with those from major tech companies, was released on Monday by a government research institute in the United Arab Emirates.


The Technology Innovation Institute (TII) in Abu Dhabi announced the launch of the Falcon 2 series, which includes the text-based Falcon 2 11B model and the vision-to-language Falcon 2 11B VLM model, which can produce a text description of an uploaded image.

The Advanced Technology Research Council of Abu Dhabi houses the research center TII.

The UAE, a major oil exporter and influential Middle East power, is making huge investments in artificial intelligence. But that bet has also drawn scrutiny from the U.S. officials who last year issued an ultimatum: American or Chinese technology.

After removing Chinese hardware and selling holdings in Chinese businesses, the Emirati AI startup G42 was able to secure a $1.5 billion investment from Microsoft through a coordinated effort with the government of Washington.

The United Arab Emirates is proving it can be a significant player in artificial intelligence, according to Secretary General of the Advanced Technology Research Council Faisal Al Bannai, who also advises the president on strategic research and advanced technology.

The Falcon 2 series comes as nations and businesses scramble to create their own massive language models in the wake of OpenAI’s 2022 release of ChatGPT. Some AI developers, like Falcon from the United Arab Emirates and Llama from Meta, have chosen to keep their code proprietary, but others have opened it up for public use.

“We’re very proud that we can still punch way above our weight, really compete with the best players globally,” he said.

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