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In the Middle East, 91% of our CEOs agreed* that AI would significantly change the way they did business in the next five years, similar to the results we see globally. In the region we expect to accrue 2% of the total global benefits of AI by 2030, equivalent to $320 billion1.
Some 66% of the region’s CEOs said they had either introduced AI to their business or plan to start in the next three years. However companies must accelerate the process of realising their plans or risk being left behind: that includes 43% confirming they have a plan to roll out AI initiatives, with only 23% of regional CEOs already having introduced them into their business, barely half the proportion globally.
* Includes 53% strongly agree + 38% agree
1 - https://www.pwc.com/m1/en/publications/potential-impact-artificial-intelligence-middle-east.html
Digital transformation is 20% technology infrastructure, 30% data and 50% skill, and in order to realise the full benefits of digitisation, companies in the region must invest substantially in upskilling their people. Bringing in staff from other countries will not fill the Middle East’s considerable digital skills gap, because of a global shortage of qualified people.
Middle East companies can count on the support of the region’s governments, which in recent years have ramped up investment in AI development and education. An outstanding example is the UAE, whose ambitious AI 2031 strategy is led by the country’s first Minister of State for AI.
The region’s CEOs seem to welcome this government backing: only half (48%) of respondents thought governments should allow organisations to self-regulate the use of AI, less than the global proportion of 59%.
However there is anxiety in the region about the progress of technology: threequarters (75%) of our CEOs regard “the speed of technological change” as a business threat, second only to “changing consumer behaviour” (79%). Cyber-security threats (70%) remain a substantial concern for Middle East business leaders, as they do for most CEOs globally (69%).
Companies in the region also have work to do to get the best results from data capture and analytics, with less than half (46%) reporting that their data is ‘comprehensive’ for financial forecasts, compared with 41% globally, and only 13% saying they have ‘comprehensive’ data on customers’ and clients’ preferences and needs.