Artificial Intelligence could add $320bn to GCC and Egypt economies by 2030: report

Artificial intelligence is allowing robots to perform increasingly sophisticated tasks. (AFP)
Updated 12 February 2018
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Artificial Intelligence could add $320bn to GCC and Egypt economies by 2030: report

LONDON: Artificial intelligence is set to swell the GCC and Egypt’s economies to the tune of $320 billion by 2030, according to a report.
Globally, the economic uplift could be to the magnitude of $15.7 trillion, more than the current output of China and India combined, according to a report by professional services firm PwC.
Within that increase, $6.6 trillion is likely to come from increased productivity, while $9.1 trillion is likely to come from benefits to consumers.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is a collective term for computer systems that can sense their environment, think, learn, and take action in response to what they are sensing and their objectives. AI is rapidly evolving, with current technology including autopilots, digital assistants and chatbots.
In the economies of the GCC and Egypt, the UAE and Saudi Arabia are expected to particularly benefit from the rise of AI, with PwC predicting it could contribute to almost 14 percent of UAE GDP by 2030. This is followed by KSA at 12.4 percent, the “GCC4” (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar) at 8.2 percent, and lastly by Egypt at 7.7 percent.
The report reveals there are untapped opportunities that could increase the impact of AI on the Middle East’s economies, if governments continue to push the boundaries of innovation and the implementation of AI across businesses and sectors between now and 2030.
“The future strategy of governments in the region, particularly in the UAE and KSA, indicate a strong push toward the development of AI technologies, for example Vision 2030 in KSA and the government’s AI Strategy in the UAE,” Richard Boxshall, senior economist at PwC Middle East, told Arab News.
The first wave of the AI revolution consists of largely known technological innovations that are either adoption-ready or are currently being fine-tuned for broader implementation. Beyond 2030, the scope of AI impacting both the economy and society overall will almost certainly increase, so it is important for the Middle East to be strategically placed in order to provide a springboard for the future, PwC said in a statement.
Fears of AI taking over human jobs have been voiced regularly but according to PwC this should not be a concern: “It is likely that in the coming years as AI is developed we will see a shift in the types of jobs performed by humans, but not necessarily a reduction in the number of jobs,” Boxshall said.
In the UAE, AI is at the forefront of the government’s strategic plans, with government representatives at the recent World Economic Forum touting how the country is embracing the technology.
At the sectoral level, the most significant gains in absolute terms are expected in the construction and manufacturing sectors, which are expected to account for almost a third of the entire benefits to the Middle East region, equivalent to almost $100 billion by 2030.


Davos organizer WEF warns of growing risk of cyberattacks in Gulf

Updated 16 January 2019
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Davos organizer WEF warns of growing risk of cyberattacks in Gulf

  • Critical infrastructure such as power centers and water plants at particular risk, says expert
  • Report finds that unemployment is a major concern in Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, Oman and Tunisia

LONDON: The World Economic Forum (WEF) has warned of the growing possibility of cyberattacks in the Gulf — with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar particularly vulnerable.

Cyberattacks were ranked as the second most important risk — after an “energy shock” — in the three Gulf states, according to the WEF’s flagship Global Risks Report 2019.

The report was released ahead of the WEF’s annual forum in Davos, Switzerland, which starts on Tuesday.

In an interview with Arab News, John Drzik, president of global risk and digital at professional services firm Marsh & McLennan said: “The risk of cyberattacks on critical infrastructure such as power centers and water plants is moving up the agenda in the Middle East, and in the Gulf in particular.”

Drzik was speaking on the sidelines of a London summit where WEF unveiled the report, which was compiled in partnership with Marsh and Zurich Insurance.

“Cyberattacks are a growing concern as the regional economy becomes more sophisticated,” he said.

“Critical infrastructure means centers where disablement could affect an entire society — for instance an attack on an electric grid.”

Countries needed to “upgrade to reflect the change in the cyber risk environment,” he added.

The WEF report incorporated the results of a survey taken from about 1,000 experts and decision makers.

The top three risks for the Middle East and Africa as a whole were found to be an energy price shock, unemployment or underemployment, and terrorist attacks.

Worries about an oil price shock were said to be particularly pronounced in countries where government spending was rising, said WEF. This group includes Saudi Arabia, which the IMF estimated in May 2018 had seen its fiscal breakeven price for oil — that is, the price required to balance the national budget — rise to $88 a barrel, 26 percent above the IMF’s October 2017 estimate, and also higher than the country’s medium-term oil-price target of $70–$80.

But that disclosure needed to be balanced with the fact that risk of “fiscal crises” dropped sharply in the WEF survey rankings, from first position last year to fifth in 2018.

The report said: “Oil prices increased substantially between our 2017 and 2018 surveys, from around $50 to $75. This represents a significant fillip for the fiscal position of the region’s oil producers, with the IMF estimating that each $10 increase in oil prices should feed through to an improvement on the fiscal balance of 3 percentage points of GDP.”

At national level, this risk of “unemployment and underemployment” ranked highly in Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, Oman and Tunisia.
“Unemployment is a pressing issue in the region, particularly for the rapidly expanding young population: Youth unemployment averages around 25 percent and is close to 50 percent in Oman,” said the report.

Other countries attaching high prominence to domestic and regional fractures in the survey were Tunisia, with “profound
social instability” ranked first, and Algeria, where respondents ranked “failure of regional and global governance” first.

Looking at the global picture, WEF warned that weakened international co-operation was damaging the collective will to confront key issues such as climate change and environmental degradation.