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Gulf nations join quantum computing research race

Image Credits: Nature Research.

Nations in the Gulf region have begun pioneering a drive towards quantum computing research through knowledge acquisition groups to cultivate homegrown knowledge and ensure that they frontier the digital landscape going forward.

This drive is set to be spearheaded through universities in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), who have since launched quantum computing research groups.

According to PwC research, quantum computing investment should be a feature of all national strategic agendas but this is particularly the case in the Middle East, where research budgets are relatively modest yet the rewards of early investment could be considerable.

Quantum computing is moving into mainstream commercial use over the next few years, representing a mammoth new age of technology. This dramatic shift will affect both how and how quickly computers are able to solve increasingly complex problems. Quantum computers are able to perform complex calculations at 100 million times the speed of current computers: the associated leap in processing power will vastly accelerate scientific advances and transform knowledge economies. Put simply, when quantum computing is combined with other advanced technologies – big data analytics, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud computing – the potential to accelerate innovation in almost any field of knowledge is beyond anything conceivable today.

Simone Vernacchia, Partner and Digital Cybersecurity, Resilience and Infrastructure Leader at PwC Middle East

The potential benefits fit with the Middle Eastern region’s long-term economic plans, and the necessity to stay ahead of new threats to national security.

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The Gulf Region is seemingly lagging in terms of quantum computing research and investment. Image Credits: Quantum Computing StackExchange

While the global quantum computing ecosystem is still in its infancy, the UAE is reaching out to global tech giants to form early-stage partnerships. Big US IT companies such as IBM, Google and Microsoft are investing in research into quantum computing.

The UAE minister for artificial intelligence recently partnered with Canadian company D-Wave to house the region’s first quantum computer in the Museum of the Future in Dubai.

Last year, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) announced plans to work with Microsoft to develop quantum-based products to address energy optimisation where classical computers have serious limitations, making it the first organisation outside of the US to participate in the Microsoft Quantum programme.

As part of the deal, Microsoft will work closely with Dewa to identify the challenges where quantum computing will have the greatest impact.

Dewa will be able to programme and test quantum algorithms, then apply those quantum solutions within the existing Microsoft Azure platform. This work will also provide Dewa with easier migration to using Microsoft’s quantum computer once it is available.

“Public-private partnerships are one avenue for GCC countries to start developing competitive quantum computing sectors,” said Schwalje. “We will likely see other government entities following Dewa shortly.”

He said Saudi Arabia will also “make a strong play” for early leadership in the quantum computing space given the historical leadership of entities such as King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and Saudi Aramco’s experience with supercomputing systems.

While the application of quantum computing in the GCC is still in its early phase, there is no doubt that it can be a big boost to innovation given the region’s leadership in big data, artificial intelligence, the internet of things[IoT] and cloud computing.”

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U.S. Quantum Initiative Research

In December 2018, US president – Donald Trump, signed a bill that prompts the U.S. government to provide $ 1.2 billion to fund quantum research for an initial five-year period.

The new law, which was been signed only part of the partial closure of the US government, will give considerable impetus to research and efforts to train future quantum workers in the country.

With increasing concerns, the U.S. has highly become cognizant of the vital need to accelerate our quantum efforts to maintain scientific and technological leadership. The National Quantum Initiative Act will meet these challenges by creating a 10-year program to advance quantum development and technology applications.

China and Europe

China and the Eurozone have recently invested myriads of funds in new research facilities and equipment. China, in particular, has stated publicly its national goal of surpassing the U.S. in quantum computing during the next decade.

Experts believe that the nation that leads the way in quantum information will have a huge advantage in other key emerging fields, including artificial intelligence and synthetic biology.

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Gulf nations join quantum computing research race

by Tech Reporter time to read: 3 min