Use of AI can create a new MENA economy for the future

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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A new Artificial Intelligence (AI) “center of excellence” has been suggested by the tech analysts in the Middle East for an anticipated $300 billion leap in the emerging digital technology.

According to Dr. Jassim Haji, President of the Artificial Intelligence Society Bahrain, the new AI-based job roles will begin to appear during the regional leap in automation usage within a year.

It comes after the international audit firm PwC predicted that the AI sector would contribute $300 billion to the Middle East economy by 2030, boosted by the mega-projects and new wave of innovation.

Most of the work on local megaprojects is done by large global technology companies, and there will inevitably be technology transfer, stated Dr. Haji.

This will enhance the AI capabilities of the economy in the region, including Bahrain, which has a strong workspace as part of its young and digitally-aware demographic.

Dr. Haji stated, “The use of Artificial Intelligence in the Middle East will help to accelerate operations in a wide range of sectors, ultimately increasing productivity and building a new economy for the future”.

He further added that “To capitalize on this major technological shift, launching a new Middle East center of excellence will enable a new focus on home-grown innovation and up-skilling the regional workforce in preparation for a range of new roles”.

Dr. Haji stated that many countries in the MENA region have made great strides towards smart cities and smart governments, and have institutionalized AI in government ministries and academies. He also added that this is an area where AI techniques and methods have already been adopted.

Bahrain has the potential to become a regional hub for AI research and development as the cost is very low compared to other centers. The Bahrain Polytechnic Academy of Artificial Intelligence, launched last year – the first of its kind in the region – offers an integrated professional program to enhance creativity and innovation in the AI sector.

This comes after the country piloted new guidelines for collecting artificial intelligence in the public sector for the World Economic Forum to improve government use of AI technology.