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Report revealed at Ai Everything Summit in Dubai shows Middle East on pace with global counterparts

Middle East companies are on pace with their global counterparts when it comes to the adoption of artificial intelligence but have some distinct differences, such as how management views AI and their trust in the technology, industry experts said.

According to a survey conducted by Forbes Insights, about 62 percent of the executives believe that AI is emerging rapidly in their industry and executives in the region look to AI as just one part of digital transformation, and slightly more than half see themselves as being only at the start of executing that plan.

The report was revealed at the first edition of the two-day Ai Everything Summit taking place in Dubai.

AI to generate $100b in extra growth for UAE

Quoting the report, William Thompson, publisher at Forbes AI, said that the UAE and Kuwait have demonstrated the strongest commitment in the region to implement AI. In 2017, the UAE announced a national strategy to become a world leader in AI by 2031.

“The AI strategy aims to make UAE as the top adopter of emerging AI technologies as well as attract top AI talent to experiment and work in sophisticated secure ecosystems to solve complex problems in our government,” said Dr. Aisha Bin Bishr, director General of Smart Dubai.

She added that the vision is to make UAE as the as a world leader and generate up to around $100 billion in extra growth.

Data is the new oil

Three in five in the Middle East agree that they have identified AI as a key enabler of future success, in line with global executives while lack of budget is far less a barrier for organisations in the Middle East, instead, they are challenged by the availability of IT staff with AI expertise.

Bashar Kilani, region executive at IBM Middle East, said that data is the new oil for the 21st century.

“It all starts with data and the quality of the data. There is no AI without IA (information architecture). We have an abundance of data and it has to be utilized properly to take benefit of the data using AI,” he said.

Why AI?

The top three reasons Mideast executives are implementing AI are to improve efficiency, enhance customer acquisition and improve the customer experience while globally, companies appear less concerned about using AI with customers and find that the most important business value is improved product and services innovation.

According to research firm International Data Corporation, investment in AI in the UAE is expected to be $56.03 million this year compared to $37.54 million last year, registering a growth of more than 49 percent while the investment in the Middle East and Africa is expected to reach $263 million this year compared to $200 million last year.

“This investment is expected to grow between 25 per cent and 30 percent annually. At least a quarter of the investment is coming from the UAE,” said Jyoti Lalchandani, vice-president and regional managing director for research firm International Data Corporation.