UAE is furthering its push into Artificial Intelligence in a bid to future-proof its oil, trade and tourism-dependent economy.
AI is disrupting virtually every business around the world and is nearly on every CIO’s agenda to automate work processes. However, there are countless assumptions over the advancing technology such as robots taking over 40% of human labour, uncontrollable machines becoming security threats, end of humanity, loss of control, mass surveillance.
While some people still struggle with seeing the benefits, AI-driven technologies are busy flowing beyond the borders of tech organisations and into the business world. From voice-powered personal assistants like Siri and Alexa, to Amazon and its AI-powered Kiva warehouse robots, there are several examples and applications of artificial intelligence in use today.
AI can act as a key driver to future growth as the governments in the region look to break free from the dependence on oil.
UAE taps into Artificial Intelligence (AI)
HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Makhtoum (UAE Vice President and Ruler of Dubai) believes AI will generate new revenue streams and opportunities for the UAE economy. He said:
- “Artificial Intelligence is the next major revolution of our times – our goal is to be one of the most advanced countries in the adoption and deployment of such AI”.
- UAE was the first and only GCC country to appoint Minister of AI, Omar bin Sultan Al Olama in October 2017.
- ‘National AI Strategy 2031’ was introduced to position UAE as a global leader in AI.
- Dubai attracted over $21 bn of foreign direct investment (FDI) for AI and robotics project between 2015 and 2018.
- Dubai ranked first globally in attracting FDI for AI, with the most coming from the European Union and the United States — $5.7 bn and $3.9 bn respectively.
- AI will contribute $320 bn (Dh1.2 trillion) to the Middle East economy by 2030, equal to 11% of GDP. The most significant relative gains in the region are expected in the UAE where AI is expected to contribute almost 14% of GDP in 2030. (PWC, 2018)
- A report from Accenture estimates that AI will significantly grow the finance sector by a whopping $37bn, healthcare by $22bn and storage and transport by $19bn.
Omar Al Olama, UAE’s AI minister, has urged private companies to work with the government in an effort to make the country a hub for the technology.
“Data is the new oil… Any company, any government that merges data and oil is going to get yields that we have never seen before. We are going to see lower costs, with profits that cannot be found elsewhere” says Olama.
Accenture identified 5 areas that policy-makers will need to consider as AI technologies become increasingly common: Growing the local talent pipeline using AI, Advocating for a code of ethics, Becoming a global testbed for social AI, Preparing workers for AI, Minimizing the impact of labor market dislocation.
What AI Experts have to say?
Renowned AI expert Martin Adams whose company Codec specializes in providing AI-based insights has admired the Gulf for taking the responsibility to equip the workforce for upcoming advanced technological platforms. He quoted the government saying: “We will equip people to have the right degrees, to create the right jobs and to essentially create the right space for them to adapt to those new jobs”.
“If I look at Europe and the US, it’s all really been left to the private market and the big tech companies themselves to create that learning,” he says.
Experts believe that the Google and Amazon smart speakers will be able to spot early signs of disease (such as coughing, sneezing or blocked nasal sound) before we are aware of it.
Dr. Scott Nowson, PwC’s AI and Data Practice Lead in the Middle East believes that Retail is one of the major sectors that will see the biggest gains due to the immediate impact of automation and AI. Many retail firms have already started implementing automated checkout stores and other advanced technology to automate work processes.
Nowson says “There’s a lot of room for automation, such as manufacturing products in retail and supply chain optimization and analytics and AI, which you can do in that space more immediately – that means you will get the biggest hit in the short term in retail. Longer term though, you are looking at industrial, manufacturing, particularly in this region, because the industries are so large”.
“We see the retail giants, Emaar and Majid Al Futtaim looking at this space. They get their back of house in order first, optimization of stock, predicting what people want to buy and it’s going to start moving much more to recommendations says Nowson.
Nowson also believes that there will be a massive growth in the health and public sector, considering the scale at which public sector is looking at automating work processes.
“All but the very smallest of companies will, in some way, be using AI in a productive sense – getting a return on investment”, according to Codec’s Adams.
Digitalization is becoming an increasingly important part of globalization, and the fact that Dubai ranks top confirms that the city is fast emerging as the global destination for investment in smart technologies.
Mohamed Mahmoud, Specialist Technology Consultant at Quest search and Selection says:
“In this day and age, no aspect of our lives goes by without technology touching it somehow. While Robots and AI are not new, it’s taken some time to develop them. AI promises to give machines the ability to think analytically, using concepts and advances in computer science, robotics & mathematics. The main purpose for AI in a practical world is to improve service, for example, autonomous driving and flying essentially wiping out any chance of human error in the near future.
The UAE is one of the fastest developing countries in the world with a very young infrastructure where AI can take the lead and influence the direction of the nation. Having recently launched a National AI Strategy 2031, UAE is at the forefront in promoting and adopting Artificial Intelligence (AI). With this, it aims to improve customer services, assess government performance and increase living standards as well as harness AI technology in Transport, Tourism, health and education sectors.”
If you would like to find out more information about introducing AI Technologies into your business or would like to speak to someone about growing your current team within Emerging Markets please speak with our Specialist Technology Consultant – Mohamed Mahmoud, Mohamed@QuestSearch.ae / +971 44490722