One of the key responsibilities of the Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department (IACAD) of the Dubai government is to provide answers and clarifications to queries related to Islamic affairs, practices, and religious rulings known as fatwas. Currently, a network of over 500 experts on Islamic law answer 5,000 such inquiries per month over telephone, but this is a manpower-intensive process and available only during work hours. IACAD wanted to dramatically scale its abilities so that it could provide religious information to exponentially more users any place, any time, and all while slashing operating costs.
It is very important that fatwas be accurate because it has to do with the person’s relationship with God.
—Mohamad Al Kubaisi, Grand Mufti at IACAD
The SmarTek21 team collaborated closely with IACAD’s team of muftis (experts in Islamic law) to develop a system that can provide advice and answers about hundreds, and eventually thousands, of questions on topics ranging from prayer to charity to pilgrimage. It is designed to continuously learn in order to provide answers with increasing levels of confidence.
The resulting solution, known as Virtual Ifta, is based on SmarTek’s industry industry-leading SmartBotHub™ Conversational AI platform. SmartBotHub uses advanced artificial intelligence techniques to ensure a highly natural user experience that provides rich and accurate information. Virtual Ifta can address an exponentially higher volume of questioners not only by telephone but through web browsers and smartphone apps such as WhatsApp and IACAD’s mobile app for IOS and Android. Users can get answers to their questions anytime, anywhere in writing or verbally, and in either Arabic or English.
Virtual Ifta is being continuously trained by a team of IACAD experts to answer a broad array of questions on topics ranging from prayer to charity to pilgrimage. In those cases where the system cannot provide an answer with a high degree of confidence, Virtual Ifta offers “Human in the Loop” functionality to seamlessly hand over the session to a real-life mufti for further advice. Built-in feedback mechanisms enable system administrators to further train the system on that topic so that it can handle similar queries more successfully in the future.
IACAD, the Islamic Affairs department of the Dubai government, was looking to dramatically increase its ability to provide immediate, rich, and accurate religious advice, all while reducing costs. SmarTek21’s Conversational AI technologies allowed them to quickly build a highly accurate and cost-effective solution.
- Highly scalable and accurate system support an unlimited number of users in multiple languages
- 24/7 access with immediate responses instead of 3 day turnaround
- Significant cost reduction by replacing/augmenting 500 religious scholars
The Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department (IACAD) was established by the Government of Dubai in 1969. Its mission is to spread and promote the values of moderate Islam, develop and promote charitable work, and build mosques in accordance with international best practices.