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IBM joins Mubadala to bring supercomputer Watson to MENA

IBM joins Mubadala to bring supercomputer Watson to MENA

The cloud-based cognitive computing service can be used in healthcare, retail, education and finance organisations

Tech giant IBM has partnered with Abu Dhabi-based investment firm Mubadala to bring its supercomputer IBM Watson to the Middle East and North Africa, the companies announced on Tuesday.

The new joint venture aims to deliver Watson’s cloud-based cognitive computing services to healthcare, retail, education, banking and finance organisations in the region, a statement said.

The move will also help spread the use of Watson across a regional ecosystem of partners, entrepreneurs, start-ups and app developers.

The financial terms of the joint venture were not disclosed.

Watson represents computing in which systems are able to interact in natural language, analyse large volumes of unstructured data, respond to complex questions with evidence-based answers and discover new actionable patterns and insights.

It popularly beat all human competitors on US game show Jeopardy to become champion in 2011.

“This new joint venture with IBM will put both the UAE and broader MENA region on the leading edge for adoption of this breakthrough technology,” said CEO of Aerospace & Engineering Services at Mubadala Homaid Al Shemmari.

“We are confident that together we can continue to accelerate the region’s knowledge-based economy by empowering businesses to capitalise on new opportunities.”

The joint venture will be established through Mubadala’s wholly owned IT services subsidiary, Injazat, which will be the exclusive provider of Watson technology in the region.

CEO of Injazat Ibrahim Mohamed Lari said: “There is an increasing need of businesses across sectors to strengthen their analytics and cloud technology.

“This joint venture signifies a strategic shift that will allow the delivery of a new class of Watson-specific capabilities that will help professionals in this region discover insights from massive amounts of big data.”

Mubadala and IBM said they plan to specifically leverage the technology in healthcare to help enable individuals and health professionals make personalised, data-driven health decisions.

US-based Cleveland Clinic, which has a hospital in Abu Dhabi, is currently working to advance Watson’s capabilities in medical education and genomics.

IBM also has a dedicated business unit, Watson Health, to improve the ability of doctors, researchers and insurers to gather new insights from the massive amount of personal health data being created and provide turnkey solutions.

Apart from healthcare, the tech giant is also working on hundreds of projects to expand Watson’s industry domain knowledge, as well as teaching the system new languages such as Arabic, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese and Japanese.

“This collaboration is an important demonstration of IBM’s commitment to bringing Watson to all corners of the world and accelerating adoption of cognitive computing as the new technology standard for innovation,” said senior vice president of IBM Watson Mike Rhodin.

“Mubadala’s strong relationships throughout the MENA region will enable local organisations and entrepreneurs access to Watson to transform their work.”

The MENA region is seeing a rapid growth in the adoption of IT technologies and services. According to IDC, spending on ICT products and services in the region will cross $270bn in 2015, making the region the second-fastest growing IT market worldwide.

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