AI to bring $320 billion to the Middle Eastern economy

According to a recent report from PwC Middle East, AI could be set to bring $320 billion to the Middle Eastern economy.

The largest impact is expected to be seen in the UAE, representing almost 14% of GDP in 2030. However, in absolute terms, PwC predict that Saudi Arabia will see the largest gains, with an estimated of $135.2 billion in 2030 – almost half of the predicted total.

Other Middle Eastern countries expected to see a significant impact include the GCC4 – Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and Qatar – which are predicted to see a contribution of $45.9 billion from AI in 2030, and Egypt, predicted to see $42.7 billion.

The UAE is clearly a pioneer when it comes to the use of cognitive/AI systems

– Megha Kumar, Research Director, Software, MEA, International Data Corporation

This represents 2% of the total global benefits PwC predict – they estimate that AI could contribute up to $15.7 trillion to the global economy in 2030.

The annual growth in the contribution of AI is expected to range between 20-34% per year across the region, with the fastest growth in the UAE, followed by Saudi Arabia. Both countries place within the top 50 on the Global Innovation Index 2017 in terms of their ability to innovate and the outputs of their innovation.

The report also points out that several countries in the Middle East have already embraced AI and machine learning technologies. In the UAE, for example, cognitive assistants ‘Eva’ and ‘Rashid’ are already being used by Emirates NBD and Dubai’s Department of Economic Development.

“Of all the countries in the MEA region, the UAE is clearly a pioneer when it comes to the use of cognitive/AI systems,” said Megha Kumar, the International Data Corporation (IDC)’s research director for software in the Middle East, Africa, and Turkey. “We expect this initiative [the ‘UAE Strategy for Artificial Intelligence’] to fuel demand for a new range of skills and services within the country over the coming years.”

Research conducted by the IDC in November 2017 supports this point, estimating that spending on cognitive and artificial intelligence (AI) systems in the Middle East and Africa region will grow from $37.5 million in 2017 to over $100 million by 2021 – a growth rate of 32% per annum.

They expect to see significant growth in the use of AI across all industries, although IDC’s research suggests that the biggest opportunities will be in the financial sector, where an estimated $28.32 million will be spent on cognitive/AI solutions in 2021 – roughly a quarter of overall spending.

This will be followed by the public sector (including government, education, and healthcare) with 19.8% share and manufacturing with 14.1%. PwC’s report predicts that the biggest gains are likely to be in retail and the public sector, particularly healthcare and education, with finance in third place.

“Given the exponential growth we are seeing in data volumes, organizations across the region are increasingly looking to leverage solutions that can help improve the efficiency and productivity of their employees,” said Kumar. “Cognitive/AI systems can play a key role in helping to automate and augment processes, which is why we expect to see sustained growth in spending on such solutions over the coming period.”

Researcher, writer, recovering medievalist. Currently particularly interested in the cybersecurity solutions market, cyber insurance/risk modelling, and IoT security.

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