Here's how the Middle East is set to become a powerhouse of innovation
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Here’s how the Middle East is set to become a powerhouse of innovation

Here’s how the Middle East is set to become a powerhouse of innovation

Digitalisation has been proven to improve organisational performance and enhance business value by helping companies meet customer expectations

Divsha Bhat

Driven by national visions and ICT goals, the public and private sectors in the region have made significant progress in developing a solid digital infrastructure that promotes innovation and offers new economic opportunities. The government sectors have also implemented strategies and prioritised the incorporation of digital transformation in their plans.

New projects shaping the future
Recently, Omar Sultan Al Olama, the UAE’s Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications, discussed plans for the UAE Coders’ Society at Gitex Global. The initiative will bring together the 60,000 coders who are already residing in the UAE. He also stated that the country is focusing on developing women coders, thus bringing new employment opportunities to the female population throughout the Emirates.

In Dubai, the government is progressing rapidly towards achieving the goals of its paperless strategy. The strategy has met 98.86 per cent of its goals, with 43 government agencies going completely paperless. Wesam Lootah, CEO of Smart Dubai Government Establishment, Digital Dubai, stated at Gitex Global that December 12, 2021, when the Dubai government will issue its last paper transaction, will mark the completion of the Dubai Paperless Strategy, which began in 2018. He claimed that the strategy had saved 13 million hours of manual transactions and 325 million sheets of paper, equivalent to 39,000 trees.

Meanwhile, Dubai Police has outlined new initiatives to make the emirate the safest city globally, including the launch of a GPS vehicle camera tracking system and the world’s first floating smart police station on the World Islands. Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority is also implementing new technologies to improve facilities such as an AI-powered platform to ensure safer cycling tracks.

The digital revolution
Along with the public sector, the private sector has also taken major steps in creating a robust digital infrastructure that fosters innovations and opens up new economic opportunities. Gartner predicts that IT spending in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is forecast to total $1.7bn in 2022, an increase of 2.6 per cent from 2021.
GB Tech Talk spoke with regional professionals to understand how the technology industry is evolving in the Middle East and hear about the new products and services set to disrupt the landscape.

James Petter, VP International, Pure Storage

Data: It is predicted that in 2021 alone, there will be 74 zettabytes of generated data, and it is expected to reach 149 zettabytes by 2024. The critical job of every organisation is to analyse data and incorporate it into company strategy. At Gitex Global, Pure Storage unveiled two new solutions – Pure Fusion and Portworx Data Services – to suit the expectations of modern businesses by making data infrastructure easier to install and manage.

James Petter, VP International, Pure Storage explains: “With Pure Fusion, data placement may be automated, removing the need for manual intervention. End users will be able to consume volumes, file systems and data services such as replication quickly without having to wait for back-end manual effort, thereby making hardware invisible. “Modern applications are made up of several microservices, which are frequently supported by multiple data services. Unfortunately, each of these data services is hard and time-consuming to manage in a Kubernetes environment. The Portworx Data Services – the data-as-a-service Kubernetes management platform for containers – enable organisations to drive automation into maintaining various databases, once again eliminating the need for manual intervention,” adds Petter.

Digital transformation: Meanwhile, One Global has developed Og Stack, a digital transformation and corporate innovation platform that allows entrepreneurs to integrate their services into an ecosystem. This service facilitates the dissemination of ideas to worldwide markets, incubators, investors and others.

Mohammed Al-Rashidi, executive chairman, One Global

“The firm may sign up for the platform, develop a media communication profile, add video explanations, create membership levels, and then go on to pricing services. We also provide them with a sandbox in which to test and verify the platform, as well as security-as-a-service and encryption-as-a-service. We then make it available on the Og Stack marketplace,” explains Mohammed Al-Rashidi, executive chairman, One Global.

Designed primarily for the utility sector, Nokia has unveiled its private wireless solution to assist the vertical in its digital transformation journey. The solution, which includes private wireless, IP/MPLS, microwave, and Gigabit Passive Optical Networks (GPON) technologies and Nokia’s 4G and 5G devices, is designed for vital communications in extreme environments. Dr Muneer Zuhdi, head of Cognitive Cities and Industries at Nokia, believes that while the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar were the first in the GCC to deploy 5G, the rollout was limited to a basic layer. “While 5G gives a better consumer experience, it was designed and built for industrial automation. Therefore, the next wave of 5G deployment will target vertical industries such as logistics, oil and gas,” he says.

Furthermore, to understand the themes of the region such as energy saving and consumption, Epson is helping the region’s organisations boost efficiency, cost-savings and lower environmental imprint.

“Our printing technology uses heat-free microbial technology, which can save up to 83 per cent less energy. As a result, Epson inkjet can save $3.6m in a year which can be reinvested in sustainability,” says Neil Colquhoun, vice president – CISMEA, Epson Europe.

Combatting the cyber pandemic
The rollout of new technologies has various advantages, but it also broadens the attack surface for hackers, thus making it critical to have a strong cybersecurity posture. The damage that cyberattacks may cause has already been seen. For example, the SolarWinds attack saw hackers rip through organisations’ networks via a supply chain attack. In the UAE, the National Cybersecurity Strategy, launched in 2019, aims to create a safe cyber infrastructure. In line with the country’s robust cybersecurity foundation, several experts are helping organisations safeguard their data and increase their security posture.

“With the pandemic introducing a new business paradigm – work from home – organisations were unprepared for this sudden transition. Hackers attempted to exploit this as an opportunity, which is why cyberattacks are on the rise. Companies are now aware that they must strengthen their security posture. We are here to assist and educate people. I believe in providing the best solution based on the need rather than what the partner offers. We innovate to help customers in bridging the security gap,” says Firas Ghanem, regional director, Middle East and Pakistan, ThreatQuotient.

Rajesh Ganesan, vice president – product management, ManageEngine

Meanwhile, ManageEngine claims it is augmenting its solution to include a greater emphasis on cybersecurity. “We recognise that data breaches and phishing may be severe challenges with work from home models. Organisations must stay one step ahead of attackers, which necessitates a comprehensive security strategy built from the bottom up and enhanced with technologies that have intelligence and real-time data to prevent every attack,” says Rajesh Ganesan, vice president – product management, ManageEngine. “Our anti-ransomware solution helps organisations leverage insights to recover affected endpoints, learn from attacks and proactively secure endpoints by preventing similar attacks in the future,” he adds.

Organisations must have a solid security foundation and address risks proactively. It is beneficial to detect and identify threats, have complete network visibility, and enable continuous monitoring of linked devices. The sooner the identification, the greater the capacity to mitigate it. For example, setting strong passwords, coupled with robust authentication mechanisms and verification questions can act as the first layer to protection.

Looking ahead, the region looks set to become a global driver of innovation, led by the strong market potential and the enabling ecosystem.

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