UAE blazes a trail with AI, leads Europe and MENA

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Some 71% UAE residents have been using more data over the past five years, says YouGov's Dataiku-commissioned report.
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  • The UAE has established itself as a world leader in AI, having been the first nation to appoint a minister of state for AI
  • Data science and AI are advancing, yet managers and non-managers in the UAE have different perceptions about data utility and AI's role

By all accounts, the UAE leads the world in Artificial Intelligence (AI), with a dedicated minister to look after the affairs of what is a wide-ranging branch of computer science concerned with building smart machines.

According to a report commissioned by Dataiku, the platform for Everyday AI, the UAE leads EMEA in the leverage of data, data science, and AI for the purposes of decision making and business growth.

The survey, which was conducted by YouGov in early 2022 and involved 2,487 decision-makers from France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, and the UAE, revealed that UAE respondents were the most convinced of data’s utility in the workplace, with 84% considering it essential, compared to the EMEA average of 69%.

YouGov’s Dataiku-commissioned report also revealed that some 71% of UAE respondents have been using more data over the past five years, and they expect to use even more data in the future five years, compared to an EMEA average of 52%.

How AI and data science help organizations grow?

According to Sid Bhatia, Regional Vice President & General Manager for the Middle East & Turkey at Dataiku, businesses are looking at actuating the impact of data within the organization every day. We are seeing innovations happening in that space of the competitive advantage it brings. Businesses that invest in and use data are definitely ahead of those that have yet to see the value of investing in this field.

“What we are witnessing on the ground is that more and more firms from all sectors are investing in AI to obtain that competitive advantage. Businesses are paying careful attention to associating and determining how they can improve some of the C-level dialogues taking place at the board level”, he told TRENDS, adding that board-level discussions revolve around specific themes or value drivers such as reducing costs, raising revenue, or perhaps targeting new markets, categories, or goods.

In March 2022, Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) in collaboration with the UAE’s Artificial Intelligence Office announced the launch of a special license for companies that focus on AI. In support of the country’s Artificial Intelligence Strategy 2031, the license rewards firms for their efforts by granting Golden Visas to select employees.

According to Bhatia, the UAE is experiencing rapid growth, particularly in AI and big data. Those investments were made for the reasons UAE has made as a form of advancement and evident next steps in terms of the path to success.

“Saudi Arabia isn’t far behind,” he continued. “There is a lot of investment in this industry supporting Saudi 2030.” The most important markets for us are the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Egypt, which have seen many activities.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and data science are impacting how the world works and will cause considerable changes in the jobs market and business models.

 The outstanding gaps 

Although Data science and AI are advancing to new heights, however, there is still a gap in perception between managers and non-managers in the UAE when it comes to data utility and the role of AI.

While 71% of UAE managers say their use of data in daily work has increased over the past five years, and 73% believe their use of data will increase over the next five years, only 44% of non-managers say they have used more data over the past five years, and a mere third expect to use more over the next five years. According to the same survey, two-thirds (67%) of those in management positions believe AI and data science will impact their roles, but less than half (44%) of non-managers believe the same.

“While firms in the Middle East are aware of data science and AI usage, the remaining gaps occur when they try to determine the proper use case for it,” Bhatia mentioned.

The most significant problem that most organizations face is integrating technology, people, and processes to produce outstanding results at scale. 

Another difficulty for businesses is to ensure that the systems they install are long-lasting and that the AI system does not fail over time.

Bhatia recommends that companies interested in boosting AI within their organizations should do the following:

– Understand the value drivers at the senior level, obtain executive sponsorship, and have a strong business champion.

–  Determine the areas of opportunity across business lines.

– Ensure that the education of AI talents demands the cooperation of people from all backgrounds. After identifying those high-impact use cases that are quick to implement, proceed with some training, upskill the workforce you have, and find those who are early adopters within the organization.

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