Tech entrepreneur Rama Chakaki discusses opportunities, challenges for AI in Mideast in Al-Monitor PRO webinar




Entrepreneur and influencer Rama Chakaki participated in a live webinar with Al-Monitor PRO on Thursday to discuss innovation, artificial intelligence and social impact in the Middle East.

Chakaki is COO of aiXplain inc, partner at Transform.VC and co-founder of She pointed out that the states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have especially embraced AI.

The UAE is “taking the lead” in artificial intelligence, she said, by training young men and women in the sector.

Earlier this year, the Dubai International Financial Center launched an AI “license” and the Emirates also has a dedicated AI ministry.

But the sector is not as advanced in other parts of the region.

“The preparedness is different from country to country,” Chakaki said, adding that AI models require “amounts of data” and that “some countries are more advanced in doing it than others.”

GCC states are focused on linguistic AI, such as translation and transcription.

A prominent example is Amazon’s Alexa, she said, and her company aiXplain is working to build automated speech models to recognize different dialects of Arabic.

Chakaki also discussed the booming startup scene throughout the Middle East. She praised the growth of educational, medical and financial technology startups in the region, but said more can be done to connect them with capital in the West.

“One area we can improve on is connecting east and west,” Chakaki said. “As we grow these startups, we take them from their early stage and give them more mature capital.”

An example is Anghami, which in February became the first Arab tech company to be listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange in New York.

At Transform.VC, Chakaki said they work to connect Silicon Valley with regional startups.

The increasing role of women in Middle Eastern startups is also important, according to Chakaki, who said that men and women invest somewhat differently. “Women prefer social impact startups over men,” she said, and despite its reputation to the contrary, the Middle East and North Africa has a history of empowering women.

“In the 1970s we had very fair societies that supported women,” she said. “Women were in very senior positions in government, they were also in industry, and often they managed the money together with their male colleagues. “

Chakaki also discussed the need to make charity work more business-oriented. Her looks for early-stage tech startups driven by refugees and economically marginalized people. “How do we move the needle a little bit on philanthropy to make it more entrepreneurial?” she asked.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *