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Cloud computing, AI, machine learning, and automated business systems are all separate but interrelated technologies that are set to transform the way Emiratis and foreign residents of the UAE do business for decades to come. And while the UAE was already a pioneer in digitalization trends and quick to adopt the latest transformative technologies, COVID-19 has accelerated the way businesses and individuals work and interact with technology at a more basic level.
And as the UAE's data storage and management capacities grow exponentially, the ability of companies and public entities to use vast quantities of data toward their profit or service goals must also increase. This is where AI, machine learning, and data analytics come in. In these spaces, the UAE has proven to be not only a regional, but a world leader. As of the start of 2020, it remained the only country in the world to have a fully functional Ministry of Artificial Intelligence. The new decade will also see the opening of the world's first university of AI, to be based in Abu Dhabi.
But with new technologies come new challenges, with issues of cybersecurity also ever present in the thoughts of the government and private sector alike. With all of this in mind, this digital event will explore the impact of COVID-19 on digitalization trends across the UAE, and the potential for growth in the wider transformative technologies sector.
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Pierre Santoni is the President of Parsons Middle East Africa. Prior to his this role, he was senior vice president and division manager for infrastructure and transport. He has nearly 30 years of experience managing the portfolios of major multi-disciplinary projects around the world. He holds a master's in civil engineering from Northwestern University and a degree in engineering from the Ecole Supérieure des Travaux Publics, Paris.
Thomas Zimmerer is the Vice President for Digital Transformation and Vice President IT at EDGE, an advanced technology group for defence and beyond. Prior to joining EDGE, Zimmerer was executive vice president digital and supply chain at Kloeckner SE in Germany. Previously, he was chief information officer and a member of the executive board at the Hoffmann Group. He studied the economic, social, and political sciences at the University of Passau.
Leila Serhan is currently the Regional Director for the Public Sector at Microsoft Corporation in the Gulf region, covering the UAE, Kuwait, Oman, and Bahrain. Prior to that, her experience spanned across emerging markets in the MENA region. She has led global sales, marketing, and services for more than 16 years with Microsoft, focused on developing the company's in-country presence and strategy in countries like Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Lebanon, Jordan, and Pakistan. Prior to joining Microsoft, she held different positions with one of the leading telecoms operators in Lebanon.
In October 2016, she became the president of the Women in IT association in Lebanon. She is a speaker at many forums and conferences, specially focused on women empowerment, diversity and inclusion, and women in STEM.
She holds a degree in business administration from the American University of Beirut.
Neslihan Aydagul is the Managing Director for The Business Year in the UAE. Ms. Aydagul's experience in the research field pans to the early 2000s where she lead research projects in Qatar and Bahrain as well as opening her employer's offices in South East Asia, particularly in Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam. After successful launches, she switched her focus to the GCC, and has been based in the Gulf for the past 10 years, Saudi Arabia and the UAE particularly Abu Dhabi, during which time directed the production of 12 annual investment manuals and gained a wealth of knowledge and experience in the Gulf.