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Meet Yasmin Al Enazi: Trailblazer and AI Ambassador

Inc. Arabia speaks to one of the leading women in AI and robotics engineering in MENA and the GCC.

By Inc.Arabia Staff
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A robotics engineer, entrepreneur, AI leader, and technology developer, Yasmin Al Enazi is one of the biggest advocates for women in AI in the region. One of the first women to join Women in AI from the Middle East, Al Enazi was named one of the 10 women shaping the future of robotics in 2024 by the International Federation for Robotics in June. 

As an ambassador for women in AI, Al Enazi is clear that women's contributions to tech cannot be understated. 

"The first person who programmed a computer was a woman. The first person who launched new PCs was a woman. The first person to launch Wi-Fi was a woman. There are very few women in the field and the domain itself is dominated by men who are good at showing their work. But women normally work in silence and don’t overshare their contributions," Al Enazi tells us. 

We speak to Al Enazi about the challenges of being a woman in AI, the importance of inclusion and localization, and her plans for the future.

Below is an edited transcript of our conversation. 

Inc. Arabia: What challenges did you face as a woman entering this field?

Yasmin Al Enazi:  In the beginning, it was challenging because I often felt like I was the only woman in the room. But things are changing, even though it is still a male-dominated field. To prove myself, I had to work twice as hard, but it was worth it. 

Globally, only 17 percent of people working in the field of AI are women, compared to 42 percent in the UAE. This led me to launch the Women in AI community with four female co-founders. 

IA: Tell us about your experience as the UAE's ambassador to Women in AI.

YE: Women in AI is a France-based global community that was co-founded by Hanan Salam and Moojan Asghari. With branches all over the world, we now have 42 ambassadors in 131 countries between the US, Europe, and Japan. We are the only group from the MENA region.

Since we officially launched in 2020, we have gained the trust and respect of many government entities, nonprofit organizations, and companies in the UAE. We work with different communities in data engineering, teaching, and technology conferences to support women and empower them.

IA: Why is it important to have women's perspective in AI?

YE: It's not just about the women. Inclusivity is key in every technology we develop today.

When it comes to AI, data is not one-size-fits-all, so it's very important to close the gender gap. Inclusivity enriches the quality and future of technology and the business ecosystem.

IA: Who are your role models or mentors in AI?

YE: I look up to the mother of AI, Fei Fei Li, who is a Stanford professor, researcher, scientist, and entrepreneur.

My second role model is Alessandra Sala, President of Women in AI. Alessandra’s work is crucial to fostering diversity, inclusion, and equality for women and minorities while encouraging a global ethical approach to AI.

In our region, there is H.E. Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi. She's the president of Sharjah Research Technology Innovation Park, the American University of Sharjah, and other government entities. She is also a writer and publisher and the second woman globally to become president of the International Publishing Association.

There is also Dr. Ebtesam Almazrouei, who is a young, talented Emirati who got her PhD in AI. She launched Falcon, the AI program for the Technology Innovation Institute (TII) in Abu Dhabi. She also launched Noor, the first Arabic artificial intelligence language program. She's achieved a lot at a young age.

IA: What are the biggest opportunities and challenges in AI today?

YE: I see AI as an opportunity, but we have to develop technology locally to own our security because AI is our private data. We have to be careful with our social media posts because everything is collected by companies globally. Our data has already been used to train AI programs.

AI is about designing algorithms and technology that reflect our values.

I see AI as an opportunity, especially for women in our region. I believe it gives us access to the market, allows us to work remotely, gives us flexibility, and allows us to achieve financial independence.  

IA: What is next for you?

YE: I'm the mother of a child on the autism spectrum. I am currently studying special needs to help him.

I have started this new journey by launching a startup that uses technology to help people on the autism spectrum and people with special needs live a normal life and integrate with the community. This startup is my fourth baby.

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