The recent move by Singapore-based artificial intelligence startup Taiger to open an office in Dubai highlights the growing uptake of artificial intelligence in the Middle East and the lure of the United Arab Emirates in particular.
Drawn by the depth of smart-city initiatives in the UAE — in particular, Smart Dubai — Taiger’s announcement last week that it has opened a branch in the country comes on the heels of closing a US$25 million funding round that raised the company’s valuation to $110 million.
It also comes at a time when enterprises are spurring spending on AI throughout the Middle East and Africa, with growth forecast to jump by 43% this year, hitting $290 million, according to IDC.
On its part, the UAE government, in addition to supporting Smart Dubai, also encourages AI uptake though programs including the UAE Strategy for Artificial Intelligence and UAE Vision 2021.
“Dubai is a leading and growing financial hub and the government’s smart city initiative is the core reason why we are active in Dubai,” said Neil Briody, vice president of sales at Taiger in Dubai, adding that a large part of the AI company’s clientele comprises government agencies and global banks, which are information-intensive and mission-critical organizations.
Briody said a common business problem is the inability to gain a unified single view of the customer.
“The common thread across these organizations is that they have a lot of data but not the deriving value from it,” said Briody. “Some reasons [are] data silos, unprocessed [or dark] data, restricted access, duplicated processes, etc.”
Taiger focuses on knowledge-work automation, including document extraction, search and virtual assistance.
While enterprises are on a digital transformation journey, they still need help with reducing operational inefficiencies in how quickly information is accessed, Briody said. The benefits are improved accuracy, reduction of time and operation costs and enhanced return on investment across scaled operations.
Dubai isn’t Taiger’s first foray into the Middle East. Earlier this year, Taiger partnered with Bahrain FinTech Bay in order to access an extensive network of financial institutions and sovereign entities in the MENA region. Taiger worked with Bahrain FinTech Bay to launch specialized training programs in applied artificial intelligence to complement the tech hub’s FinTech Talent Program.
Taiger is jumping into the Middle East as tech vendors offering packaged software are coming into the region to drive sales of off-the-shelf AI products.
Increasingly, the vendors are home-grown. Hazen.ai, a Saudi artificial intelligence company, for example, earlier this month received an undisclosed seed-fund capital injection from Saudi Aramco’s Wa’ed Ventures. The advanced computer vision and deep learning capabilities of Hazen will be integrated into the evolving space of smart-city applications for the Middle East region, said Salman Jaffrey, the chief investment officer at Wa’Ed Ventures.