Unlocking the Potential: AI Optimisation in the Middle East 


Last year Artificial Intelligence (AI) had a huge transformational impact around the world and I anticipate AI will grow in significance in the Middle East over the next year due to ambitious expansion plans, such as Vision 2030, prompting increased adoption by regional governments.]

Vision 2030 is Saudi Arabia’s plan to diversify its economy by focusing on technology, education, infrastructure, tourism, and recreation. The Vision 2030 initiative holds immense potential for advancements in the tech industry across companies of various sizes.

While retail companies in the region are the fastest adopters of AI, thanks to historical data capture and consumer insights, this is just the beginning – there is now a huge opportunity for other industries in the region to join the AI party.

As the digital contribution in the Middle East stands at 4.1% of its overall economy, akin to where China stood 15 years ago, the region is poised for exponential growth. Predicted to grow at a rate of 20% per year, this digital expansion creates a fertile ground for the development, deployment, and optimisation of AI technologies. UBS equity strategist Sundeep Gantori predicts the region’s digital economy to soar to $780 billion by 2030, a significant leap from $180 billion in 2022.

Here are some of my thoughts on what’s happening throughout 2024.

Falcon LLM takes off

The Middle East, often at the crossroads of tradition and innovation, is rapidly becoming a global hub for AI development and implementation. Many of the nations in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have embarked on ambitious AI strategies, viewing it as a catalyst for innovation and economic growth. The region’s journey into the AI landscape began with initial investments, and now, as we approach mid-2024, we are witnessing the dawn of the second stage of AI applications with tangible monetisation prospects.

The launch of Falcon 180B by the Technology Innovation Institute in the UAE exemplifies this trend. This advanced large language model (LLM) powered by generative AI not only solidifies the UAE’s position in the global AI market but also offers Falcon 180B as an open-access model for both research and commercial ventures. This initiative represents just one of the many burgeoning AI enterprises emerging from the MENA region.

AI supporting digital payments

In another development, AstraTech, a prominent UAE technology company, is integrating an Arabic language ChatGPT function into its Botim app. Botim, a messaging and voice-over-internet protocol solution, now harnesses generative AI to support functionalities such as payments and international money transfers, catering specifically to the MENA region’s needs. Indeed, Botim recently became the first fintech platform to offer the Central Bank of the UAE’s (CBUAE) Aani advanced instant payment platform solution via Al Etihad Payments.

Grand digital ambitions

Looking ahead to the rest of 2024, I anticipate a continuation of these transformative trends. The region’s commitment to a localised fourth industrial revolution will propel its shift towards an innovation-driven economy. Saudi Arabia, for instance, remains steadfast in its digital ambitions, with the digital sector already valued at $40 billion and it plans to invest $24.7 billion towards GenAI and robotics technology by 2025.

Ultimately, there is tremendous promise for the Middle East’s AI landscape. From the development of advanced language models to the integration of AI in everyday applications like messaging platforms, the region is embracing AI as a cornerstone of its future growth. With substantial investments, strategic partnerships, and a clear vision for AI integration, the Middle East is poised to become a global leader in AI innovation, transforming industries and enhancing the lives of its citizens in the process.

Martin Rosinski

Source: aijourn.com

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