THE POTENTIALS OF AI AND ROBOTICS IN THE MIDDLE EAST
The rapid advances of Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, and other technologies have a huge impact on economies around the world. Modern businesses realize the significance of AI for their future growth and prosperity, investing heavily in digital technologies. This is why countries in the Middle East, majorly including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Qatar, among others, are taking substantial steps towards embracing such technologies by augmenting their investment across diverse sectors and bringing effective policies and commitment.
In 2017, Saudi Arabia announced to grant citizenship to a robot in order to promote itself as a place to develop AI. Not only Saudi Arabia, the UAE, which plans to have robot cops and autonomous vehicles on its roads and in skies, appointed a State Minister for AI, Omar bin Sultan Al Olama. According to him, in 10 years the country will be the capital of AI in service and government. Omar also thinks the UAE will be a hub for AI in the region.
As the world has already reached Industry 4.0, governments and corporations across the Middle East are turning significantly towards AI and advanced technologies. According to PwC estimations, the Middle East is expected to add 2 percent of the total global benefits of AI in 2030, equivalent to US$320 billion. Saudi Arabia is a leading country in the region and expected to contribute 12.4 percent to the GDP with US$135.2 billion during the same period. In addition, the UAE is predicted to see the largest impact of close to 14 percent of 2030 GDP.
As many big tech companies, including Google and Amazon, among others, are shifting their business models around AI, Middle East nations now seek to be at the forefront of this technological development. In Dubai, AI is the part of the city’s initiative to become the smartest and happiest city in the world. In doing so, Dubai, in partnership with IBM, has developed an AI roadmap aimed at creating new collaborations and developing skills through workshops and training. Dubai’s AI Lab, the first-of-its-kind AI Lab that is expediting Dubai towards becoming the smartest city in the world, is also infusing machine learning to government services and city experiences to improve quality of life and tourism.
The potentials of AI and robotics are not just impacted industries across the Middle East but also consumer devices sectors. For instance, in the education sector, the region is already on the horizon of digital learning. Meanwhile, interactive tools that will be entirely relying on AI and highly advanced smart capabilities can drive real-time learning experiences and virtualization, VR and connectivity will support remote lessons via video experiences.
Already, search engine Google has launched an Innovation Lab in Abu Dhabi designed to support robotics education for children in their first year of school, right through to university postgraduates. GE and Wamda also launched a four-day workshop in Abu Dhabi for a group of ten 11-13-year-olds to develop their own robot.
It is also expected that the annual growth in the contribution of AI will range from 20 percent to 34 percent every year across the region, with the fastest growth in the UAE followed by Saudi Arabia.
In today’s business environment, agile startups are repeatedly challenging tech giants on the next advancement. The developments of AI and robotics applications are also enabling startups and small businesses to diver innovation and excellence.
With the growing significance of AI, Middle East nations through their innovative initiatives, such as the UAE Artificial Intelligence Strategy 2031, Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 plan, and others, place the potentials of AI at the center of national economic strategies.