The Growing Significance of AI in The Middle East

The total IT spending in the Middle East and the Africa region predicts to be around USD 83 billion by the end of 2020, according to IDC. 

The AI potential hitting the Middle East is already being realized. Here is a few manifestations source: PwC:

  • Saudi Arabia: AI contribution of USD 135.2 billion to reach by 2030 (12.4 percent of GDP)
  • UAE: AI contribution to reach USD 96.0 billion 2030 (13.6 percent of GDP)
  • Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar: AI contribution of USD 45.9 billion by 2030 (8.2 percent of GDP)

Changing the AI game in the regional sector

Carrington Malin, a UAE-based entrepreneur, marketer, and a writer asked this question, “Will the Middle East and North Africa become more than simply a consumer of artificial intelligence?” Yes, it certainly will. 

Well, as AI projects to be the new tech revolution many countries have started focusing on investing in this field. Their main aim is to shift away from extensive dependency on petrochemicals. At its core, the largest gains are to benefit Saudi Arabia as AI projects to contribute for more than USD 135.2 billion in the economy by 2030, says PwC. The growing need of AI will eventually lead to an increase of an AI engineer across the region. 

This was the very first project of AI presented in the UAE Centennial Plan 2071, “The UAE’s Artificial Intelligence Strategy 2031.” This plan demonstrated how embedding AI into the whole society will be one of the major cornerstones of a wider perspective of the Centennial Plan 2071 objectives, announces IBM. Their major aim is to set a platform for the UAE to be positioned as one of the best and most innovative countries across the globe within the next five more decades. 

Most of the government policy within this region have been focusing on how to prepare the public sector for artificial intelligence. Although. There has been an early set-up of public-private partnerships across the region, the feasibility of having these AI-startups up and running have been grim. However, if the region is on the verge of setting up AI-startups, then 2020 is the year where positive actions will be strictly implemented. 

A contingency plan for the AI future

Most of the CIOs in those regions are eager to implement solutions that can use AI to the core. It is seen that multiple enterprises have rolled-out AI-based applications, and if they fail to onboard AI, it is going to be a huge loss for the organizations, which may probably last till the next decade. 

But is there a solid reason that is holding other enterprises from rolling-out AI?

As Gartner’s research vice president Arup Roy says in an argumentative tone, it is due to the lack of understanding of the technology. besides this, they need to know where and when they need to use AI for their business. 

Bridging the skill gap, attracting potential talent, regulatory issues, and infrastructure still stands a concern in Saudi Arabia. Not to mention, getting around the impact of automation on jobs and the potential for AI in supporting informed decision making are some of the areas that need to be addressed. As AI emerges as the next big revolution, taking up AI certification programs have become crucial. If you browse through the internet, you will find some of the top AI certification programs designed and curated as per your eligibility.

However, there’s still more that needs to be done in Saudi Arabia – the potential of AI in education, research, and policy efforts need to be addressed. 

This simply means that the region will be needing more initiatives. For instance, the “UAE’s AI Talent Hunt Program and 2018’s 1 Million Arab Coders initiative.” These are some of the success stories that have inspired decision makers, inform business leaders, or even students like Dr. Fatmah Baothman – the first woman to earn her Ph.D. in modern AI from the Middle East, thus being an inspiration for more aspiring AI professionals.

Also Read: Are we looking at an ‘AI-Winter’ in view of the current economic doldrums?

Besides this, the government needs to concentrate on how to overcome challenging issues in AI that goes beyond the labor market skills and jobs. Other aspects also include the involvement of AI ethics. For instance, how AI can be exploited from censorship to biases and from surveillance that may be essential within the programming, these must be taken into consideration. 

Artificial intelligence has the potential to disrupt businesses in the Middle East, thus opportunities for an AI engineer will keep increasing. As AI accelerates, some of the market leaders will likely come up with companies you’ve never heard of, perhaps in a span of five to ten years. 

Beyond 2030, the region focusses to impact both the society and economy, thus the Middle East must be strategically placed to come to the fore. 

Read: Why is Mobile Technology Growing So Fast?

Priya Bagga
Hello, I am Priya Bagga. I have knowledge of Search Engine Optimization (On-Page as well as Off-Page). I also do guest blogging in my free time.

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