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UAE and France agree joint investments in AI

Bruno Le Maire and Khaldoon Al Mubarak signed a France-UAE agreement on AI this week WAM
Bruno Le Maire and Khaldoon Al Mubarak signed a France-UAE agreement on AI this week
  • Strategic agreement signed in Abu Dhabi
  • ‘Cross-investments’ needed, says Le Maire
  • France seeking funds from across GCC

France and the UAE are to increase their collaboration in artificial intelligence, including joint investments, as they seek to become leaders in the AI sector.

The French economy minister, Bruno Le Maire, signed a strategic agreement with Khaldoon Al Mubarak, chief executive of the UAE investment fund Mubadala and a member of the Abu Dhabi Artificial Intelligence and Advanced Technology Council, during his trip to the Emirates this week.

Le Maire was heading a delegation of representatives from eight startups and 20 asset management companies.

The minister told AGBI: “France became a leader in AI in Europe, but to go further we need a partner for it – the UAE. We share the same view that AI is a game changer and that we need cross-investments between the two countries.”

The partnership will cover investments in infrastructure for computing including quantum computers, cloud, AI training, development and production of ultra-performance semiconductors, startup investments, blue sky research and talent development.

The two nations will also collaborate on industrial applications for AI in sectors including health and pharma, finance software, retail and industry, decarbonisation and the fight against climate change.

Le Maire said part of the research would be conducted at the Sorbonne University of Abu Dhabi.

A US-based semiconductor manufacturer backed by Mubadala, GlobalFoundries, and the Franco-Italian company STMicroelectronics are already developing a 300mm semiconductor manufacturing plant near Grenoble, southeastern France. 

The project is part of the EU’s proposal to have 30 percent of worldwide semiconductor production by 2030.

Le Maire said the collaboration between Paris and Abu Dhabi could lead to access to better semiconductors.

France is seeking to attract AI investments from across the GCC region. Earlier this month the Qatar Investment Authority, the country’s sovereign wealth fund, announced plans to invest in Ardian Semiconductor, which was established by the French private equity firm Ardian.

The UAE has also been seeking US support to produce advanced semiconductors. Abu Dhabi aim to become a regional heavyweight for technology, shifting away from China because of the US government’s rivalry with the Asian superpower.

The US tech giant Microsoft will invest $1.5 billion in the Abu Dhabi-based AI company G42 to help speed up its global expansion.

For its part, France wants to compete in AI with the US and China. “We want to be at the same level as the US in terms of competitiveness and productivity – and AI is the way to get there,” Le Maire said.

However, the minister added that co-operation must be based on sovereignty, and data and technologies “must be protected”.

The agreement with France will give the UAE access to French AI startups.

Earlier this month Saudi Aramco signed an agreement with the French computing company Pasqal to install, maintain, and operate a 200-qubit quantum computer, which is due for deployment in the second half of 2025.

French-Emirati relations include investments in aeronautics and energy. More than 600 French companies operate in the UAE and around €6 billion ($6.5 billion) of goods were exchanged between the two countries last year.

“But we need to broaden this co-operation,” Le Maire said.

“We are open to any kind of investment, and we welcome any further investment in AI from the UAE.”

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