SenseTime goes to Abu Dhabi

Hongkong-based AI firm SenseTime Group Ltd., one of the world’s most valuable unicorns, has formed a strategic alliance with Abu Dhabi to set up an EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) Artificial Intelligence R&D hub, according to a company statement. 

SenseTime is the world’s fastest growing pure-play AI company with a valuation of over US$4.5 billion. The company offers customers AI as a “value creation” tool in sectors ranging from autonomous driving to medical image analysis and remote sensing.

The R&D center will focus on healthcare, remote sensing and education. The role of the facial recognition firm, which counts Alibaba Group as an investor, is a provider of tailored products customized for key government and private sector counterparts in Abu Dhabi and the region.

Elham Al Qasim, CEO of the Abu Dhabi Investment Office, said the presence of SenseTime in Abu Dhabi will “help accelerate the adoption of AI into a number of different sectors.” 

“SenseTime will create tailored products,” she added, “for example, in the healthcare and education sectors, or in smart cities. These are all at the core of the SenseTime roadmap and need customized AI solutions.” 

The new center is expected to open later this year. “The SenseTime formation team is coming to Abu Dhabi next week to establish the new office. This means we will already have a small team ramped up in 2019,” Bloomberg quoted Al Qasim as saying. “Hiring will start this year and will be boosted to around 250 jobs by the end of next year.”

Gulf Arab states are seeking to plow some of their oil and natural gas billions into technology and communications to lessen their reliance on crude, and to bring in the businesses and skills needed to transform their economies. Earlier this month, the United Arab Emirates said it will allow foreigners to own 100% of businesses across various industries. 

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