How the AI boom in the Middle East challenges technology executives

Middle Eastern governments are looking to AI to help diversify their economies from oil and gas, and private enterprises are looking to deploy the technology to achieve operational efficiency and offer new services. Here are some of the challenges that tech leaders in the region need to keep top of mind.

Artificial intelligence and digital identity

AI has transformed and disrupted business globally, and the Middle East is no exception. What once seemed to be the stuff of science fiction a few decades ago is now on the technology roadmaps of most companies in the region.

The impact cannot be overstated, as AI is expected to make an economic contribution of US$320 billion to the Middle East economy by 2030, with Saudi Arabia and UAE seeing the most gains in their GDP at 12.4% and 14% respectively, according to a PwC Middle East report. Governments in the region have already set up economic roadmaps to take full advantage of AI's disruptive potential with the financial sector expected to reap the most benefits, according to PwC.

There have already been several fascinating applications of AI in the region, with Saudi Arabia using AI for identifying and prioritizing vaccination cases, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company ( ADNOC ) mining terabytes of data for scenario simulation and Dubai's Road Transport Authority managing crowd congestion, to name just a few.  It seems the Middle East has fully embraced the transformative potential of AI at all levels for the next decade or so.

Challenges in embracing AI

Along with its tremendous business benefits, though, AI brings a unique set of challenges. Executives may jump onto the AI bandwagon without properly setting up expectations and understanding why they are implementing AI in the first place. As with any technology, a lack of a viable business case will lead to failure in the long run. Similar to any technology project, AI is not a silver bullet and needs executive level sponsorship, a strong business plan and an appetite for failure for its true potential to be realized in the long run.

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