MBZUAI boosts UAE ambitions for global AI prominence
Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI) has demonstrated rapid growth and development in terms of faculty, student numbers, and academic influence in 2022, according to a state-of-the-university address delivered by President and University Professor Eric Xing.
In his recent address to faculty and staff on the university’s campus, Professor Xing detailed the institution’s high-impact faculty and dramatic rise in academic publishing as key pillars of the university’s success. The university, which was unranked in 2021, moved into the top 25 globally in 2022 in its areas of specialization — AI, computer vision, machine learning, and natural language processing — according to Computer Science Ranking (CSRanking.org).
MBZUAI faculty published more than 350 papers in high-impact conferences and journals in 2022, including 27 papers at NeurIPS. The MBZUAI faculty body also grew significantly in 2022, with the addition of 21 new members, and now stands at 49. In total, the faculty body has grown by over 80% since 2021, and more importantly, the caliber of faculty has increased.
27 members of the faculty body at MBZUAI hail from the top 100 AI institutions, an increase of 14 staff members from the previous year. The faculty’s average H-index – which captures research output based on the total number of publications and citations to those works – rose by 4 points to reach 45 in the index, representing an increase of 10% overall.
MBZUAI faculty chaired an astounding five top global conferences in 2022: ICML 2022, EMNLP 2022, UAI 2022, ACL 2022, and CLeaR 2022. Professor Xing underscored that faculty quality is an essential ingredient for research excellence, talent development, and innovation. The university encourages faculty to share their talent by participating in and leading top, global conferences.
“MBZUAI has made huge strides in 2022, with the hard work, skill, and talent of faculty and students driving the university to new heights. While global rankings and academic papers are important, what resonates most is the spirit of community and collaboration that we have fostered, which has helped to create an environment that is ripe for AI research, experimentation, and learning,” Professor Xing said.
The student body grew significantly in size and quality in 2022. With the addition of the fall cohort, the student body grew to over 200 graduate students in total. The caliber of students also rose, with 21% of new student intake coming from best-in-class undergraduate institutions, an increase of 12% on the previous year.
In support of the government’s aim to increase the participation of UAE nationals in high-tech industries, the university increased the number of Emirati students to 36.
Graduate admissions are now open for the 2023/24 academic year and the university welcomes applications for its master’s and doctoral degree programs in computer vision, machine learning, and natural language processing from students and faculty in the GCC and the wider Middle East & North Africa (MENA) region by the closing date of April 30, 2023. MBZUAI is now ranked as the number-one AI academic institution in the Arab World and is dedicated to making Abu Dhabi and the UAE a regional and global hub for AI. It is also committed to advancing NLP to develop AI applications that recognize the diversity of the Arabic language.
Two cohorts of the MBZUAI Executive Program have graduated, and a third cohort is well underway. The department of professional services has also conducted a further six professional training programs in 2022 with UAE organizations.
Five new funded research collaborations were added in the past 12 months – IBM, GE Healthcare, Malaria No More, The Emirati Genome Program, and The Abu Dhabi General Administration of Customs.
The AI global think-tank – AI Quorum – also kicked off, making Abu Dhabi the go-to center of research in winter for top AI scientists and practitioners to exchange ideas and inspirations. Three research symposia were held on collaborative learning, AI operating systems, and natural language processing, with three more planned for early 2023. An AI Quorum retreat was also held, bringing elite scientists together in Abu Dhabi to chart the future course of AI research.
“As we go into 2023, we remain steadfastly focused on advancing AI as a global force for humanity and helping to position Abu Dhabi as a global hub for excellence in AI research and development,” Professor Xing said.