UAE Building First Quantum Computing and Cryptography Library

Article By : Nitin Dahad

A research institute in the UAE is building its first quantum computer and making available its first post-quantum cryptography software library for the nation.

A research institute in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is building its first quantum computer and making available its first post-quantum cryptography software library for the nation.

The Technology Innovation Institute (TII), which is the applied research pillar of Abu Dhabi’s newly established Advanced Technology Research Council (ATRC), said that work is underway to build a quantum computer at its quantum research center (QRC) labs, in collaboration with Barcelona-based Qilimanjaro Quantum Tech.

José Ignacio Latorre - QRC Abu Dhabi
José Ignacio Latorre

The chief researcher at the QRC, José Ignacio Latorre, is leading construction of the quantum computer in the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi. He said, “The first step in the process is to build a laboratory, equip it and complete installation of the cleanroom equipment, all of which is on track. Once done, the first qubits will be prepared, characterized and benchmarked. We expect the first simple quantum chips ‘Made in Abu Dhabi’ should come by the end of the summer.”

Latorre said there are several technologies to construct quantum computers such as superconducting qubits, ion traps, optical qubits, and spin dots, adding QRC has opted to use superconducting qubits, which is the same technology that Google and IBM use in building their own quantum computers, and they offer the best qubit technology to scale to a larger quantum computer.

Post-quantum cryptography software library

QRC is one of seven initial dedicated research centers at ATRC’s TII; other research areas include autonomous robotics, cryptography, advanced materials, digital security, directed energy and secure systems. ATRC plays a strategic role in directing, funding and leading emerging fields of research and technology, while stimulating and sustaining a knowledge-based economy that reinforces Abu Dhabi and the broader UAE’s position as a global innovation hub.

One of these other areas, the Cryptography Research Center (CRC) has this week launched the first post-quantum cryptography (PQC) software library in the UAE.

The library is a collection of algorithms to safeguard confidential data and information. With the rise of quantum computers, classic cryptographic algorithms (in particular, public key / asymmetric algorithms) are no longer sufficient to ensure secure data storage and secure digital communication. To address the demand for an advanced level of security that cannot be compromised even on sophisticated quantum computers, cryptographers are now engaged in developing PQC algorithms.

The library will advance the cryptographic and security capabilities of the emirate of Abu Dhabi and the broader UAE. International and Emirati researchers at CRC have developed the PQC library, a software library written in the C general-purpose programming language that supports a wide variety of computer architectures and operating systems. A corresponding hardware FPGA-based implementation has also been developed. The library, designed to guard against attacks by quantum computers, has already been integrated in several secure communication products, according to the TII.

The CRC employs and collaborates with scientists in multiple cryptography fields such as post-quantum cryptography, hardware-based cryptography, lightweight cryptography, cryptanalysis, cryptographic protocols, and cloud encryption schemes, amongst others. It also brings together theoretical and applied cryptographers in a research-oriented setting. The cryptographers collaborate on breakthrough research projects that lead to innovative outcomes.

Speaking on the announcement, His Excellency Faisal Al Bannai, secretary general of the ATRC, said, “The United Arab Emirates is now in the same league of countries that possess advanced digital data security capabilities. Our researchers have worked hard to make this revolutionary project a reality. To meet the growing level of sophistication in the world of data, systems and network security, we are currently engaged in many more such ventures for the future. Our researchers are shaping the building blocks of advanced cryptographic and cryptanalytic solutions that enable superior data confidentiality, integrity, authentication, non-repudiation, and privacy.”

Najwa-Aaraj TII Abu Dhabi
Najwa Aaraj

Najwa Aaraj, chief researcher at the CRC, said, “Quantum computing capabilities are a potential threat to data security. This fact underscores the importance of the launch of the UAE’s first post-quantum cryptography library to guard against quantum computer attacks. The first release of the library has already been integrated in several secure communication products with advanced cryptographic protocols. Such a library serves as the foundation of any security application or product in development today that integrates public-key cryptography functionality. We will continue to develop the PQC library through incorporating more schemes.”

This article was originally published on EE Times Europe.

Nitin Dahad is a correspondent for EE Times, EE Times Europe and also Editor-in-Chief of embedded.com. With 35 years in the electronics industry, he’s had many different roles: from engineer to journalist, and from entrepreneur to startup mentor and government advisor. He was part of the startup team that launched 32-bit microprocessor company ARC International in the US in the late 1990s and took it public, and co-founder of The Chilli, which influenced much of the tech startup scene in the early 2000s. He’s also worked with many of the big names – including National Semiconductor, GEC Plessey Semiconductors, Dialog Semiconductor and Marconi Instruments.

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