Saudi Arabia's ALLaM Model Joins IBM Watsonx as a Top Arabic Language Generator

The announcement was made at the IBM Think event underway in Boston. (SPA)
The announcement was made at the IBM Think event underway in Boston. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia's ALLaM Model Joins IBM Watsonx as a Top Arabic Language Generator

The announcement was made at the IBM Think event underway in Boston. (SPA)
The announcement was made at the IBM Think event underway in Boston. (SPA)

The Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA) announced on Tuesday that its ALLaM model, which generates Arabic text, was included in IBM’s leading watsonx platform.

The announcement was made at the IBM Think event underway in Boston.

This selection is testament to ALLaM’s advanced technical capabilities.

During its experimental phase, the model underwent rigorous testing against international standards for generative AI to ensure its readiness to compete with other models on watsonx, a platform widely used by developers around the globe.

Currently available in a trial version, ALLaM’s inclusion in watsonx allows for further professional evaluation. The testing will be instrumental in accelerating the release of the model's full capabilities and establishing it as a highly competitive force in the field of Arabic language generation.

The inclusion also aligns with Saudi Arabia's, specifically with SDAIA's, broader mission to promote the Arabic language on regional and global scale. The efforts focus on preserving the integrity of the language while promoting its use by enriching Arabic content in various fields, including technical, cultural, literary, scientific, and other humanities-based domains.

Ultimately, this initiative aims to leverage AI technologies and digital applications to foster cultural diversity and benefit all humanity, regardless of language, nationality, or educational background.

These efforts contribute to the goals outlined in Saudi Vision 2030, driven by Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and Chairman of the Board of Directors of SDAIA, to make the Kingdom a global leader in advanced technologies, including those associated with AI.

ALLaM is the first Saudi-developed AI system designed to answer user questions on different knowledge domains in Arabic.

The groundbreaking model leverages cutting-edge AI technology. Trained on a massive Arabic language dataset, one of the world's largest, and supplemented by English content, ALLaM ensures comprehensive responses.

Users can submit inquiries in text or audio format, and ALLaM will answer in the chosen format, drawing from the most trusted sources in the Kingdom and the Arab world.

The ALLaM model is the product of the SDAIA-IBM partnership. This collaboration is a significant milestone on the road to advancing Arabic language applications within generative AI, said Regional Vice President of IBM Saudi Arabia Ayman Al-Rashed.

"This cooperation unlocks the potential of Arabic language models for both public and private sectors, aligning with the cultural needs of the region," he added.

Al-Rashed further highlighted the broader impact of this project, stressing: "Companies can leverage these models to develop innovative services."

This latest development strengthens Saudi Arabia's position as a leader in AI technology tailored to the specific needs of the regional market, he went on to say.

Artificial intelligence experts, technicians, innovators, company presidents, and policymakers formed part of the IBM Think event.



Apple Kills off Its Buy Now, Pay Later Service Barely a Year after Launch

An Apple logo adorns the facade of the downtown Brooklyn Apple store on March 14, 2020, in New York. (AP)
An Apple logo adorns the facade of the downtown Brooklyn Apple store on March 14, 2020, in New York. (AP)
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Apple Kills off Its Buy Now, Pay Later Service Barely a Year after Launch

An Apple logo adorns the facade of the downtown Brooklyn Apple store on March 14, 2020, in New York. (AP)
An Apple logo adorns the facade of the downtown Brooklyn Apple store on March 14, 2020, in New York. (AP)

Apple is discontinuing its buy now, pay later service known as Apple Pay Later barely a year after its initial launch in the US, and will rely on companies who already dominate the industry like Affirm and Klarna.

It's an acknowledgement from a company known for producing hit products that building a financial services business from scratch as Apple has been doing for several years is difficult and highly competitive.

Apple Pay Later launched with fanfare in March 2023 as a way for iPhone customers to split purchases of up to $1,000 into four equal payments with no fees or interest. The service was Apple's answer to the growing popularity of buy now, pay later services globally, and considered a sizeable threat to companies like Klarna, Affirm and others.

But Apple Pay Later was only available where Apple Pay was accepted whereas the other buy now, pay later companies had deeply integrated themselves into millions of merchant websites.

In an acknowledgement of how popular buy now, pay later services had become, Apple said at its developer's conference this month that it would start allowing banks to offer buy now, pay later plans to their customers through Apple Pay and Apple Wallet. Affirm would be integrated directly into Apple Wallet, and Apple customers would be able to open an Affirm account directly.

“With the introduction of this new global installment loan offering, we will no longer offer Apple Pay Later in the US,” Apple said late Monday. “Our focus continues to be on providing our users with access to easy, secure and private payment options with Apple Pay, and this solution will enable us to bring flexible payments to more users, in more places across the globe, in collaboration with Apple Pay enabled banks and lenders.”

Apple executives as recently as this month had indicated that the company still had plans for Apple Pay Later despite announcing plans to integrate Affirm directly into Apple Wallet.

Apple Pay Later was unique because Apple needed to create its own bank to offer the loans. The Apple Card is issued by Goldman Sachs, which means Goldman ultimately decides who gets approved and what spending limits are for each customer.

Apple has discontinued any new Apple Pay Later loans, but customers who have existing Apple Pay Later loans will be able to manage them inside Apple Pay.