Filling a Gap in the Iraq AI Sector and Launching my Own Startup – by Mohammed Zuhair, Ph.D

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Dec 20, 2022
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Filling a Gap in the Iraq AI Sector and Launching my Own Startup – by Mohammed Zuhair, Ph.D

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Mohammed Zuhair AL-Taie completed an Omdena challenge, upon which he became an Omdena Top Talent to work on paid gigs with companies. Through Omdena’s experience, he realized that creating his own business in the AI sector would support his country, Iraq.

What is your background, Mohammed?

I hold a Ph.D. degree in computing from the University of Technology, Malaysia (UTM), and a master’s degree in computer science and communication from the Arts, Sciences & Technology University in Lebanon (AUL).

I have published a number of studies on topics related to computing like data science, NLP, graph analysis, machine learning, big data, and recommender systems. In addition, I published two books on network analysis.

Besides being a reviewer for a number of journals including Social Network Analysis and Mining (SNAM), I am also an occasional book reviewer, and a researcher at the NASA-in-Arabic association to deliver state-of-the-art technologies to Arabic readers.

Previously, I was a university teacher where I taught modules at the BSc level in subjects like artificial intelligence, programming, logic design, Web development, and software engineering. Currently, I am a senior data scientist working in the telecom industry where I develop models for customer relationship management to boost customer retention and loyalty.

What is your greatest recent achievement?

I have established a new startup for information technology, with a focus on artificial intelligence.

How was the start-up journey for you?

Considering the importance of artificial intelligence and the fact that my country (Iraq) lacks the necessary knowledge and awareness required to prepare for the future, the idea of building an AI startup began to form in my mind. The main goal was to provide training sessions on artificial intelligence, and building AI applications that would help different sectors in the community. The daily and weekly newsletters on AI and the inspirations I got from my friends at Omdena were the motives that pushed me to take practical steps towards doing the paper works and finding a suitable place for hosting my startup.

How did the Omdena experience help in your work career or personal life?

I have worked with OmdenaSchool and have been part of the Top Talent Program. I found that creating my own business in the AI sector would fill a big gap in my country.

Mohammed in Baghdad

Mohammed in Baghdad

What was your role at Omdena School?

Making use of my experience teaching students in the computer science field, I was a part of Omdena School from the very beginning. I gave short training tracks on machine learning and natural language processing and one full track for training, Hate Speech Detection in Social Media using Data Science.

What is your experience with the Top Talent program you participated in?

Being part of the Top Talent Program for almost four months, I was able to give consultation services to Catholic Relief Service. This included taking full or partial responsibility for projects undertaken by CRS in different parts of the world (especially Africa). The goal was to provide support to poor people or people facing diseases or famines in these areas. My role was building machine learning models (supervised or unsupervised), giving predictions, and building insights for the different aspects of the projects.

Is there anything else you would like to share about your current life or work?

I have partnered with Microsoft’s official training center in Baghdad, Iraq. This partnership will allow me to provide training on AI topics within the center besides using Microsoft AI tools (like Azure) to build applications rather than using the available free tools. Currently, I am working on a web application that can provide academic services to postgraduate students and instructors. The application is built on using machine learning and deep learning techniques to help them write papers, articles, or theses easily. It also includes natural language processing and computer vision techniques.

Mohammed during a scientific conference in Baghdad

Mohammed during a scientific conference in Baghdad

What are tips for future Omdena collaborators?

There are many things I can say in this regard.

  • Building programming skills using Python or R languages.
  • Participating in the daily or weekly AI newsletters that provide updates on recent advances in AI.
  • Participating in competitions organized by Kaggle.
  • Having well-maintained GitHub account.
  • Having a good understanding of Web programming tools.
  • Participating in Omdena’straining courses and challenges.

All these possibilities offered by Omdena can build a good ground for taking up projects from A to Z.

Mohammed at work

 Mohammed at work

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