If innovation does indeed beget innovation—if AI has the ability to propel innovation as it diffuses through the economy—there is perhaps no better proving ground for this maxim than the Middle East, which has seen an explosion in the number competing hubs dedicated to developing innovative new technologies.

How AI can support industrial growth and diversification

To determine the potential sector-specific impact of Artificial Intelligence on the economies of the Middle East we looked at 13 industries in Saudi Arabia and 15 in the UAE, combining the results of our macro AI modelling with industry size data. Our model shows that, in absolute dollar terms, Manufacturing, Public Services and Professional Services will benefit the most in Saudi Arabia, with boosts in industry GVA of $37 billion, $67 billion and $26 billion, respectively, by 2035. In the UAE, Financial Services, Healthcare, and Transport and Storage will be the big winners in terms of AI-aided growth, with increases in their annual GVA of $37 billion, $22 billion and $19 billion, respectively, over the same period.

For policy makers: Clearing the path to an AI future

As we have shown, with young, fast growing populations, the Middle East needs jobs, and lots of them. While AI can free workers from the drudgery of monotonous and mundane tasks through intelligent automation, these technologies also have a major role to play in bolstering worker productivity and driving new and better ways to innovate. Done in the right way, AI can boost employment, economic growth and business profitability. Key to this will be successfully integrating human intelligence with machine intelligence, so that they coexist in a two-way learning relationship. As the division of labor between man and machine changes, policy makers need to reevaluate the type of knowledge and skills imparted to future generations.

For business leaders: Creating a new playbook for an AI world

The performance of AI will directly depend on the quality and amount of data that are available. Accenture research shows that the majority of executives are unsure of the business outcomes they derive from their data analytics programs, which can mean that enterprise data remains vastly underutilized. While many large companies already have added a chief data officer (CDO) to the C-suite, the main focus for these executives is understandably on data security, regulations and governance. Instead, they should see themselves as stewards who construct and maintain an integrated, end-to-end data supply chain. These AI-savvy CDOs will concern themselves with issues such as: What is the balance between internal and external data sources? What is the company’s data churn and cost per day? Where are the data silos? How can our company simplify data access?

Amr Elsaadani

Managing Director And Financial Services Lead – Middle East & Turkey


Mark Purdy

Managing Director – Accenture Research


Elizabeth Hakutangwi

Africa Lead – Accenture Research

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