A government research institute in the United Arab Emirates on Monday released a new open source GenAI model, which could rival the ones from big technology companies.

Abu Dhabi's Technology Innovation Institute (TII) said it was releasing the Falcon 2 series: Falcon 2 11B, a text-based model, and Falcon 2 11B VLM, a vision-to-language model that can generate a text description of an uploaded image.

TII is a research centre within Abu Dhabi's Advanced Technology Research Council.

The UAE, a major oil exporter and influential Middle East power, is making huge investments in artificial intelligence.

Advanced Technology Research Council Secretary General Faisal Al Bannai, who is also an adviser to the president on strategic research and advanced technology, said the UAE was demonstrating it can be a major player in artificial intelligence.

The Falcon 2 series come as companies and countries are racing to develop their own large language models following the 2022 release of ChatGPT by OpenAI. While some have opted to keep their AI code proprietary, others, like UAE's Falcon and Meta's Llama, have made their code publicly available for anyone to use.

Al Bannai said he was optimistic about Falcon 2's performance and that they were working on "Falcon 3 generation".

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

(Reporting by Alexander Cornwell; Editing by Alison Williams)