Technology The White House's private fears over the rise of...

The White House's private fears over the rise of AI in the Middle East

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China has hit out at reports the US has concerns about G42. A foreign ministry spokesman said in November the “US has sabotaged cooperation between Chinese companies and other countries on multiple occasions” and called the moves “economic coercion”.

Still, even G42 admits it needs to tread carefully. On Friday, Peng Xiao, its chief executive, told the Financial Times it cannot indefinitely “work with both sides”.

He said: “The impression we are getting from [the] US government and US partners is, we need to be very cautious… we simply cannot do much more work with Chinese partners”. He said G42 planned to phase out its use of Huawei kit. Last month, he told Fortune that any US data it handled was kept “safe and sound”.

Outside of the US, G42 also has growing ties to the UK. It is the third-biggest shareholder in UK biotech company Oxford Nanopore and has signed a deal with AstraZeneca to manufacture drugs in the UAE.

In January, executives from G42’s healthcare subsidiary met with Andrew Bowie, then a junior minister in the Business Department, to discuss potential “collaboration”, according to government disclosures. Al Olama, the UAE’s AI minister, was also a key participant in Rishi Sunak’s AI Safety Summit in November.

The UAE’s technological advances help to burnish its international credentials despite widespread concerns over human rights, censorship and autocratic rule. The UAE has emerged as “an AI power”, says Krieg. “They are a smart cyber power in a way no other Middle Eastern power is.”

Just how they plan to wield that power is yet to be seen.

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