What is Sibaq Lahja? 

aiXplain recently launched “Sibaq Lahja”, an AI-powered educational program in collaboration with Cisco and the United Arab Emirates Ministry of AI (MoAI). For those who are not familiar, the term roughly translates to “race of a dialect”. The name came up during the development phases of the program and simply stuck, due to how accurately it captures the goal and context behind this initiative. 

Simply put; in an effort to push for inclusive technologies, this program was designed to equip young coders and software engineers in the UAE with the necessary skills to develop and deploy AI solutions in the realm of Arabic Natural Language Processing (NLP). 

Why was Sibaq Lahja created?

There are many reasons that collectively contributed to the creation of this NLP program that all fall under the umbrella of democratization of AI by making it accessible to everyone. 

To support UAE’s knowledge-based economy, rapidly growing industries like AI, as well as machine learning, are becoming increasingly valuable. With NLP realizing rapid growth over the past several years, it has also increased dependencies on its applications that are aiming to improve workflows. 

Hence, this program was designed to build local capacity for driving the adoption and implementation of AI solutions in the UAE. This will be accomplished with talent development through education from leading industry experts and working with expert-level tools. 

Brief history of NLP

As a subfield of computer science and artificial intelligence dedicated to refining interactions between computers and human (“natural”) languages, NLP is continuing to become one of the most exciting areas in AI. From chatbots to your mobile voice assistants and translation services to digital calls, each of these are possible due to carefully crafted and trained NLP solutions. The growth in this field of study goes beyond borders across the globe with developers, scientists, and experts refining and innovating AI solutions.

Today, NLP is utilized in a multitude of forms and these solutions help power applications that are increasingly becoming more prominent across industries around the world.  With an ever-increasing need for such applications along with a history filled with NLP advancements in the English language, the need for multilingual models is increasingly becoming more prevalent. 

There is a vast development of such technologies that are bringing great value to communities while language barriers still seem to remain. In an effort to develop more inclusive technologies, there is a need for advancements in solutions empowering non-English speaking communities. 

What are we trying to accomplish with Sibaq Lahja? 

From a technical perspective, the participants will be developing an Arabic Diacritizer which is simply a text-to-speech AI system for the local Emirati dialect. In other words, it is an AI-powered system that automatically recovers diacritics1 for the Arabic language. 

As participants compete with each other in delivering the best-performing models, they are learning from, and supported by, an inventory full of assets of highly experienced NLP and Machine Learning (ML) scientists, along with access to industry-level tools designed to support model development. 

Future phases of this program will utilize this system for building speech synthesis models as well as  a variety of applications such as audiobooks and screen readers. Participants will also be learning how to transform their theoretical knowledge into real-life AI applications. 

At surface level, this is just the beginning of what Sibaq Lahja is trying to achieve. The heart of it comes from making an impact on the use of applications and implementation of the Emirate dialect in the field of NLP. It is a push for the development of more inclusive technologies that surpasses language barriers to drive creativity and innovation. 

This has been a key focal point for aiXplain with supporting initiatives that help develop more inclusive technologies and communities. On our mission to truly democratize AI, aiXplain is always contributing to initiatives that promote inclusion and innovation by making AI available to everyone. This time we are starting with NLP by providing access to our expert-level tools designed to support AI/ML model development with the ability to build, diagnose and improve systems and datasets all in one place. 

If you are also looking for tools to support your AI/ML model development journey, become an aiXplain member today. 

Click here to join!

1Diacritics: a sign or accent indicating a difference in pronunciation of the letter.

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