The digital revolution in the Middle East
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The digital revolution in the Middle East

The digital revolution in the Middle East

Gartner predicts that the IT spending in the MENA region is set to grow 4.5 per cent annually and reach $171.3bn this year as businesses increasingly digitise amid pandemic

Gulf Business
Digital Tranformation

The Middle Eastern countries have become early adopters of cutting-edge digital technologies, with governments increasingly diversifying their economies. The public and private sectors have made significant gains in establishing a robust digital infrastructure that supports innovation and opens new economic possibilities. This has also attracted investment from various technology vendors who are working diligently to serve the region. According to Gartner, the IT spending in the Middle East and North Africa is set to grow 4.5 per cent annually and reach $171.3bn this year as businesses increasingly digitise amid pandemic.

“In the first quarter of 2021, projects such as ‘remote work visas’, ‘Smart Dubai 2021’ and other economic policy regulations were launched. These are expected to boost technology investments in the region,” said John Lovelock, research vice president at Gartner.

What’s driving the digital transformation?

As governments in the Middle East work to diversify their economies, a greater focus is being placed on broad-scale digital transformation across verticals. The public and commercial sectors have made significant gains in establishing a robust digital infrastructure that supports innovation and opens new economic possibilities, driven by national visions and ICT goals.

Last month, Emirates Supreme Council Members and rulers welcomed the unveiling of the ‘Principles of the 50,’ a document that would help the country define its destiny over the next 50 years.

The ‘Principles of the 50’ was launched as part of the ‘Projects of the 50’ campaign, with the goal of laying out a strategic roadmap for the UAE’s new age of economic, political, and social progress. This document lays forth ten principles for the UAE that all government agencies, including the legislative system, police and security institutions, and scientific bodies, must adhere to and utilise as guides for all decisions, and seek to execute via their frameworks and strategies.

The UAE government also announced the launch of the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network to promote innovative technologies in the country’s industrial sector. According to Sarah Al Amiri, Minister of State for Advanced Technology, if the UAE meets the programme’s goal, it will add Dhs25bn to the national economy by 2031.

The country also launched the National Programme for Coders programme. This admirable effort will encourage the much-needed attention on bridging the technical skills gap.

In line with the country’s vision, GITEX Global Visions Summit, a top-level leadership programme to be held from October 17-21, ministers, directors’ generals and high-ranking officials will present their digital transformation roadmaps, technological aspirations and opportunities in their quest for an advanced digital economy to achieve shared prosperity and effective societal impact.

As the first point of entry to the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia regions for global companies, GITEX will give global organisations a platform to shape the future, with over 4,000 exhibitors – over 140 participating countries and over 200 government ministries in attendance, representing a range of global digital cities.

Moving forward to the other parts of GCC, Saudi Arabia launched its Saudi Vision 2030 five years ago. The key goals of the vision include reinforcing economic and investment activities, increasing non-oil international trade, and promoting a softer and more secular image of the Kingdom. The country has also invested heavily in five giga projects as part of its effort.

Similarly, Kuwait Vision 2035 is an ongoing national development programme, to transform the country into a regional and international financial trade centre and attract investments.

During the fiscal year 2020-2021, the Egyptian government set up 12.7bn Egyptian pounds to encourage digital transformation. It also started an initiative called “Digital Egypt.”

Other Middle Eastern countries have also worked hard to improve and extend current internet infrastructure, as well as create a favorable climate for the digital economy.

The way forward

Whether it’s artificial intelligence (Ai), blockchain, cloud computing, or machine learning, the Middle East is ahead of the rest of the world in terms of innovation and progress. UAE leads the Arab world in innovation and adoption of technologies. Recently, Abu Dhabi unboxed the cyrstostat – the initial frame of its first quantum computer.

TII’s Quantum Research Centre (QRC) is leading the project aimed at providing the world with a quantum advantage by developing a supercomputer with exponential computational capabilities. The growing demand and substantial opportunities for the development of the local IT industries along with significant investments is also expected to boost the regional economy.

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