Qatar is leading the way in embracing the latest and most advanced technology to improve government services and transform the economy. 

The tech-savvy population and state-of-the-art research, development and innovation (RDI) environment has enabled Qatar to embrace Artificial Intelligence (AI) – the science of making machines do intelligent human tasks – to create a user-friendly experience for companies and individuals using government websites and apps.

The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology leads the way

In partnership with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), Microsoft launched its new datacentre region in Qatar in August 2022, the country’s first hyperscale cloud datacentre to deliver enterprise-grade services in the country in the Azure Qatar Cloud. The Microsoft cloud datacentre region in Qatar enhances Qatar’s competitiveness on a global and regional level and will have a significant impact on the development of the local economy, supporting efforts to diversify the economy, build talent and attract foreign investment.

The new world-class datacentre is open for business with Microsoft Azure and Microsoft 365 available. Customers can begin leveraging Microsoft Azure, a cloud computing platform, to develop advanced applications using AI, data and analytics, Internet of Things (IoT) and hybrid capabilities with advanced digital security, as well as Microsoft 365, the world’s foremost productivity cloud.  

MCIT, through its national initiatives such as TASMU PLATFORM and Qatar Digital Government, along with the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy and many other entities, are already using the Microsoft cloud to develop their digital capabilities. 

The Microsoft cloud datacentre region in Qatar is expected to drive growth for the more than 100 Microsoft partners in the country, as well as for global partners looking to establish in the country. Microsoft partners including Ooredoo, Vodafone, PWC, Malomatia, Intel and Starlink are already using the Microsoft services to deliver transformative solutions and drive customer success.  

Later, in October 2022, MCIT awarded the framework agreement of cloud computing services for the government sector to Google Cloud, to accelerate digital transformation in the country.

MCIT and Google Cloud will work together on projects and initiatives to enhance digital transformation in accordance with Qatar National Vision 2030 and use the capabilities of cloud computing on a larger scale. MCIT’s strategy is to employ technology in the service of innovation and creativity through cloud computing technology and AI to offer computing, networking, storage and flexibility services needed to develop and manage applications and big data.

HE Mohammed bin Ali Al Mannai, Minister of Communications and Information Technology said: ‘MCIT is proud to strengthen and enhance its strategic partnerships with major international companies specialised in the digital sector, in an effort to advance this vital sector for the benefit of the national economy and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in line with Qatar National Vision 2030.’

Thomas Kurian, CEO of Google Cloud, said: ‘Google Cloud technologies that the government of Qatar can leverage, such as data and analytics, AI, machine learning (ML), infrastructure, application modernisation, and highly-tailored industry solutions, will help boost innovation across the country.’ 

MCIT and Microsoft then announced in February 2023 the activation of OpenAI GPT technology powered by the Azure cloud. This means that government entities will now have access to the most advanced AI models in the world to innovate, create and develop applications and improve efficiency. 

The launch of the OpenAI GPT feature aligns with MCIT’s aim to provide government entities with the latest technologies and support their digital transformation journey, as per Qatar National Vision 2030. Large-scale AI models are quickly becoming an essential platform to find creative, innovative solutions for the issues and challenges faced by institutions. 

This is also in line with the National Artificial Intelligence Strategy, under which the Qatar e-Government Portal ‘Hukoomi’ will be among the first portals in the region to adopt OpenAI GPT capabilities via Azure. This will improve user experience, deliver unprecedented levels of efficiency and speed, and raise the quality and performance of the portal.

Kahramaa also adopts new technology

In March 2023, the Qatar General Electricity and Water Corporation (Kahramaa), in collaboration with Microsoft and KPMG, launched a new large-scale platform backed by cloud computing and AI to improve operational efficiency and enhance customer experience.

Speaking at the launch, HE Eng Essa bin Hilal Al Kuwari, President of Kahramaa, affirmed the strategic importance of adopting advanced technologies, in order to upgrade the quality of operations. ‘Kahramaa places great significance on comprehensive digital transformation and is keen on achieving corporate excellence in line with the development pillars of the Qatar National Vision 2030 and Qatar Digital Government Strategy. This project adds tremendous value and represents a new model in government institutions. It supports transparency, accelerates modernisation processes, and encourages advanced digital solutions’ adoption and localisation, contributing to the Qatari excellence which has become a global standard of competence.’

Speaking at a press conference following the launch, Eng Mohammed Mubarak Al Badr, Assistant Manager IT Smart Solutions at Kahramaa, commented that this new collaboration would represent a step forward in improving customers’ experiences. ‘I believe adopting such technology will further develop the cloud computing services integrated in Kahramaa’s work, especially in relation to big data analysis and machine learning.’

Al Badr further stated that the platform would aid in analysing electricity and water consumption patterns in the country, leading to better decision-making and strategic planning for the production and distribution of Kahramaa services.

Kahramaa is a pioneer in digital transformation in Qatar, providing customers with a wide range of easy digital solutions, and supporting the country’s development priorities with modern, reliable infrastructure.

What is GPT?

Generative Pre-trained Transformer technology (GPT) is a language model released in 2020 that uses deep learning to produce human-like text. Using any initial text like a phrase or sentence, it will then produce text that continues the prompt. 

GPT-3 is the third-generation language prediction model in the GPT series, the successor to GPT-2 created by OpenAI, a San Francisco-based artificial intelligence research laboratory. GPT-3 was introduced in May 2020 and is part of a trend in natural language processing (NLP) systems of pre-trained language representations.

According to OpenAI, over 300 apps are using GPT-3 across a number of categories and industries, everything from education to creativity and games. OpenAI is continuously looking to exploit new capabilities of GPT-3 and actively invites users and developers to interact with them.

By introducing the OpenAI GPT-3 language platform, does this then mean that ministries will be using virtual assistants on their websites like ChatGPT for online customer support services? It will be interesting to see what MCIT will launch next in Qatar! 

By Sarah Palmer

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