UAE to Embrace AI, Blockchain and IoT in 2019

February 22, 2019

In 2019, the United Arab Emirates is expected to further embrace 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies, including blockchain, the Internet of Things (IoT), and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, AI is projected to add as much as 11 percent or $320 billion to the Middle East’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2030. Currently, the Middle East achieves up to 34 percent annual growth from the applications of AI, with many in the industry projecting that UAE will become an AI hub. In 2030, the country is expected to see AI contribute up to 13.6 percent to its GDP. Industries that stand to reap the most benefit lie in the public sector, from healthcare to education, as well as retail.

However, the financial sector of the Middle East and Africa may also provide opportunities for the AI industry. International Data Corporation (IDC) has published findings stating that approximately $28.3 million or 25 percent of all investments allocated to the industry in the Middle East in 2021 are set to go to the development of AI solutions. Other sectors are also considering the use of AI technology, from manufacturing to public services, such as healthcare and education.

Though influencers and leaders in industries across the Middle East have voiced their beliefs that AI will greatly affect their businesses over the next decade, fewer than 10 percent of business leaders have implemented any strategies that focus on AI. Research published by PricewaterhouseCoopers also suggested that Middle Eastern industries are aware of AI technology, but a 50 percent gap persists between public awareness and industry adoption of the technology.

On the other hand, blockchain technology has seen significant development in the region, with businesses gaining more understanding about the technology beyond cryptocurrency. Industry leaders have said that blockchain technology is set to see more adoption in many sectors across the region.

Nevertheless, Toufi Saliba, CEO of San Francisco-based Toda Network, has stated that blockchain technology is used in only 0.2 percent of worldwide business transactions and therefore, has room for improvement. Attributes that will promote the adoption of blockchain technology, according to Saliba, are implementation, security, efficiency, confidentiality, scalability and interoperability. He said industries must focus their efforts on promoting these attributes, in order to increase blockchain adoption in the coming years.

As for the Internet of Things (IoT), businesses in the United Arab Emirates are aware of the benefits of this technology, as IoT has a key role in Dubai’s goal to transform itself into a smart city.

Mohammed Gharaibeh, Head of Enterprise of Mobile Business at Samsung Gulf Electronics, revealed that the company is working on an intelligent ecosystem of interconnected devices, with the aim of delivering innovation for consumers. He added that IoT is considered a key pillar that will bring Samsung’s vision of creating seamlessly connected experiences into user’s homes, workplaces, as well as on-the-go.


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