From virtual police officers to autonomous retail stories, GITEX Global had a strong focus on deploying artificial intelligence (AI) to improve quality of life to improve on the quality of life. With the annual technology fair drawing to a close on October 20 at the Dubai World Trade Centre, here’s a look at the biggest announcements and initiatives unveiled at the event.

GITEX Europe

GITEX unveiled its plans for a European edition of the technology fair, which is set to launch in 2025. The news was announced by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council of the emirate, who took to X (formerly known as Twitter) to reveal details. “We are proud to announce the launch of ‘GITEX Europe 2025’, which will make its debut in May 2025 in Berlin, Germany,” he posted. The news follows the brand’s GITEX Africa launch in Marrakech, Morocco, last year.

Meet Dubai’s virtual cop

Amna, Dubai Police’s virtual police officer, was all the rage at GITEX this year. The bilingual (Arabic and English) law enforcement member, charged with AI tech, was on hand to address public inquiries, help people pay fines or report incidents.

Dubai Police vitural officer Amna. Image courtesy: Dubai Police.
Dubai Police vitural officer Amna. Image courtesy: Dubai Police.
Dubai Police vitural officer Amna. Image courtesy: Dubai Police.

Zoho bats for SMEs

Zoho Corp, the global technology firm that reported more than $1 billion in revenue in 2022, announced its expansion plans at GITEX, during an interview with Zawya, with more offices planned in the Middle East and Africa region, along with regular recruitment drives over the next few years.

[Related content: SaaS giant Zoho eyes expansion in Middle East and Africa, to double hirings

Hyther Nizam, MEA President at Zoho Corp. Image courtesy: Zoho Corp
Hyther Nizam, MEA President at Zoho Corp. Image courtesy: Zoho Corp
Hyther Nizam, MEA President at Zoho Corp. Image courtesy: Zoho Corp

RTA’s Smart tech

The Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) unveiled a smart gate initiative at GITEX that allows passengers to pay Public Transport fares through facial recognition, improving the level of operational efficiency in services, in addition to reducing cash transactions.

RTA stand at Gitex. Image courtesy: RTA
RTA stand at Gitex. Image courtesy: RTA
RTA stand at Gitex. Image courtesy: RTA

EdTech supercharges education

Generative AI also found a champion in the EdTech sector with Estonia at the forefront. Kristina Kallas, Minister of Education and Research of Estonia, said that the number of EdTech startups in the country had increased by 50% in the last five years, with an annual growth rate of 30-50%. The Minister further observed that AI could make education more tailored and individualised, which includes helping children with learning difficulties and low language skills.

Farm bots is the Future of farming

The UAE’s Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority unveiled the future of farming at GITEX with its farm bots. Integrating AI and robotics, the bots, will offer accuracy in planting, nurturing, and harvesting crops. Its advanced sensors monitor soil conditions and optimises resource utilisation such as reducing water waste and minimising chemical usage.

Travel goes virtual

The Sharjah Archaeology Authority unveiled its Metaverse project allowing people to explore the emirate’s rich heritage landscape. Marrying AI, with augmented and virtual reality, the Jabal Khatm Al Melaha Archaeological Trail transports people back into the Neolithic Age where enthusiasts can explore more than 120 rock inscriptions. Driven largely by inspirational advertising and virtual events, the potential reward of virtual travel is estimated to cross $20 billion by 2030, according to research firm McKinsey & Company.

AI on call

Etisalat by e& announced the soft launch of its Consumer Assistant at GITEX Global. Built using Microsoft Azure OpenAI Service, the new AI assistant can join voice calls to verbally communicate with customers and assist with various tasks such as checking the weather, getting directions to a destination, or getting an update on current news.

e& autonomous store. Image courtesy: e&
e& autonomous store. Image courtesy: e&
e& autonomous store. Image courtesy: e&

Entrepreneurship ecosystem

Dubai Internet City signed a strategic partnership with German Entrepreneurship GmbH at GITEX to strengthen the start-up and entrepreneurship ecosystem in the UAE. Under the terms of the agreement, Dubai Internet City would support German start-ups with the data, insights, and resources needed to enter the UAE and new regional markets. German start-ups would also be invited to establish a base at Dubai Internet City.

G42 partners with OpenAI

G42, the UAE-based technology holding group, announced a partnership with OpenAI, the AI research and deployment company behind ChatGPT, to deliver AI solutions to the UAE and regional markets. Announced at GITEX, this partnership will focus on leveraging OpenAI’s Generative AI models in domains where G42 already has expertise including financial services, energy, healthcare, and public services.

Star Charge heads to Abu Dhabi’s SAVI cluster

The Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO) announced on the sidelines of GITEX that Star Charge, the smart energy turnkey solution provider, was setting up its regional headquarters in the UAE capital’s SAVI cluster in Masdar City. Star Charge would be offering complete EV charging and energy storage hardware, software, and seamless services.

Gitex Abu Dhabi govt. Image courtesy: Dhabi government
Gitex Abu Dhabi govt. Image courtesy: Dhabi government
Gitex Abu Dhabi govt. Image courtesy: Dhabi government

On the Social Radar

The Department of Community Development, the regulatory body for the social sector in Abu Dhabi, showcased its Social Radar Project at GITEX, which monitors and listens to the perception of Abu Dhabi society through all social media channels, including social networks, blogs, video sharing sites, Google searches, etc. The project focuses on identifying prominent social challenges in society and reporting them to make informed decisions and proactively solve challenges.

Citizen Companion

Renewing a driving license, applying for a UAE Golden Visa, or paying a traffic fine could soon be easier with the help of AI. Demonstrating what government services of the future could look like, Microsoft announced its partnership with Kagool on building the 'Cotizen Companion' – an AI-powered interface that communicates with visitors in their native language. Personal services are unlocked through residents’ Emirates IDs.

G42 makes way for Core42

G42, the company behind the world’s fastest supercomputer, announced the formation of Core42, which will focus on the delivery of AI solutions and services. The new entity was the result of a merger between three of G42’s business verticals, G42 Cloud, Injazat and Inception.

e&’s first autonomous store

Telecom giant e& launched ‘EASE’ (Etisalat by e& Autonomous Store Experience), the world’s first autonomous telecom store powered by AI. Customers will be able enter the store using facial recognition or the e& app; they can then explore and purchase a variety of products and services (mobile and fixed products, accessories, handsets, device trade-in) and walk out of the store with a self-checkout.

Self-driving security patrol

Dubai Police unveiled its self-driving security patrol aimed at enhancing safety in residential areas. The eco-friendly, fully electric patrol has a battery that lasts up to 15 hours and can reach speeds of 5-7 kilometres per hour. Additionally, with its smart technology and artificial intelligence, the vehicle can detect criminal behaviour, recognise faces, and read car license plates.

Dubai Police marine patrol. Image courtesy: Dubai Media Office
Dubai Police marine patrol. Image courtesy: Dubai Media Office
Dubai Police marine patrol. Image courtesy: Dubai Media Office

Careem goes green

Ride-hailing company Careem said that its e-bike service, Careem Bike, displaced over 2.9 million tonnes of CO2 - the equivalent of 834 cars emitting CO2 - since its launch in 2020. Meanwhile, in 2023, 53% of Careem ride-hailing trips have been completed with hybrid or electric vehicles. Careem’s UAE fleet currently offers over 75 electric Teslas and more than 1,400 hybrids.

Careem ebikes. Image courtesy: Careem
Careem ebikes. Image courtesy: Careem
Careem ebikes. Image courtesy: Careem

Abu Dhabi’s Autonomous Racing League

The GITEX Global also saw the launch of the Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League, A2RL, along with the unveiling of the first autonomised Dallara Super Formula, SF23. Operating without human involvement, the autonomous vehicle by ASPIRE will feature in the inaugural race scheduled for 28 April 2024, at the UAE capital’s Yas Marina Circuit. The event will also feature autonomous car races, drone races, and dune buggy races.

Call for AI regulations

Omar Sultan Al Olama, the UAE’s Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, spoke about the need of greater governance with the widespread adoption of such cutting-edge technologies such as AI. [Related content: AI dominates at GITEX, as tech show opens in Dubai with future focused innovations]

Data for the greater good

The Abu Dhabi Government launched several projects and initiatives at GITEX Global this year, but the Unlocking the Potential of Data for the Greater Good initiative by the Statistics Centre - Abu Dhabi (SCAD) received special attention. This project aims to develop state-of-the-art technological solutions to establish a unified virtual database, allowing decision-makers - including local, international and emerging companies - to access data repositories from various sectors and sources, with the aim of leveraging this data to make informed decisions.

Getting cyber secure

As technology advances and evolves so does cyber threats that risk different aspects and parts of our lives and privacy. In a bid to curb cyber security challenges, the UAE Cyber Security Council (UAE CSC) and Abu Dhabi’s Advanced Technology Research Council (ATRC) joined forces to cooperate on shaping a more secure and private global information society. Both councils will roll out a raft of initiatives, from cryptographic migration and deployments to educational programmes that build awareness. The synergy between UAE CSC and ATRC includes operational deployments, cooperation, deterrence, prevention, and responding to cyber-attacks.

Better patient care

The Department of Health – Abu Dhabi (DoH) signed an MoU with M42, a global tech-enabled healthcare network, at GITEX Global 2023, to integrate M42’s newly announced Clinical Large Language Model (LLM), Med42, across Abu Dhabi’s healthcare ecosystem. The collaboration will see DoH harness M42’s generative AI capabilities to address critical aspects of the healthcare ecosystem, including population health management, optimising processes, enhancing patient care and outputs and reducing healthcare expenses.

Luxury marine patrol

The Dubai Police added another luxury mode of transport to its existing fleet, except this vehicle prefers treading water. The luxurious marine patrol boat unveiled at GITEX has been designed to rapidly respond to marine incidents and provide immediate and emergency rescue operations. The vehicle boasts features such as a top speed of 45 knots per hour, a capacity of 1800 cc and an automatic engine with four speeds. The total weight of the patrol boat is 320 kilograms, with a maximum weight limit of 625 kilograms, and it can accommodate two passengers.

(Reporting by Bindu Rai, editing by Seban Scaria)