UAE and Saudi Arabia emerging as regional ‘tech powerhouses’

36th Gitex Technology Week in Dubai World Trade Center: New Technology exhibition in Gulf and MENA Region at DWTC, Dubai. (Shutterstock)
Updated 19 March 2019
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UAE and Saudi Arabia emerging as regional ‘tech powerhouses’

  • UAE and Saudi Arabia still have work to be done in order to catch up with countries with cutting-edge skill sets in technology, business and data science
  • Ahead of private sector expansion, business will be a key area for improvement in the UAE and Saudi Arabia

DUBAI: The UAE and Saudi Arabia show the most promise in terms of skills in technology, according to the Coursera’s Global Skills Index, an in-depth report on skill trends and performance across 60 countries in the Middle East and around the world.

“The UAE shows the most promise in Technology (#40) compared to Business (#52) and Data Science (#38). This may be a reflection of the UAE government betting big on AI and fostering a testing ground for robotics,” the report stated.

“Saudi Arabia ranks higher in Technology (#50) compared to Business (#58) and Data Science (#58). Its strong performance in Human-Computer Interaction (92%) is likely a reflection of the government’s investment in digitization,” it added.

“Although there’s been a significant increase in education investment in recent decades, MEA students still aren’t graduating with the right skills, as the 31% youth unemployment rate indicates.”

While they are on the right track, and are regional powerhouses, results show that the UAE and Saudi Arabia still have work to be done in order to catch up with countries with cutting-edge skill sets in technology, business and data science such as Spain, Austria and Switzerland.

Ahead of private sector expansion, business will be a key area for improvement in the UAE and Saudi Arabia. The UAE’s lowest performing domain is business and it ranks #52 globally and #4 in the region. Saudi Arabia also ranks lower in business at #58 globally and second to last in the region. It lags the most in accounting and marketing (2%). Upskilling in business will be key areas to the region’s goals for private sector expansion.

“As the countries shift their industrial base away from natural resources, they must focus on building a knowledge-based economy that’s driven by a highly skilled workforce. The development of technology and data science skills, in particular, will continue to emerge with the adoption of new-age technologies such as Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence and blockchain, underpinned by the UAE Vision 2021 and Saudi Arabia Vision 2030, respectively,” the findings stated.

Finland, Switzerland and Austria round up the top three worldwide respectively in terms of business skill sets, which include accounting, marketing, finance, sales, management and communication. Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh and Egypt, however, sit as the bottom three respectively.

Argentina, Czech Republic and Austria sit as the top three worldwide respectively in terms of technology, while Kenya, Pakistan and Nigeria round up the bottom three. Technology skill sets studied include computer networking, operating systems, human computer interaction, databases, security engineering and software engineering.

In terms of data science worldwide, Israel, Switzerland and Belgium are rated as the top three worldwide respectively, with Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Nigeria sitting at the bottom three. Data science skills include math, statistics, machine learning, data management, statistical programming, and data visualization.

Coursera’s full Global Skills Index can be found below:


RBS says Saudi bank merger boosts its core capital

Updated 16 June 2019
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RBS says Saudi bank merger boosts its core capital

  • RBS had a 15.3% interest in Alawwal bank
  • The changes would boost the banks CET1 core capital ratio by 60 basis points

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) said on Sunday the completion of a merger between Alawwal bank and Saudi British Bank would lead to RBS shedding $5.9 billion of risk weighted assets and boost its core capital.
RBS, through Dutch subsidiary NatWest Markets N.V., was part of a consortium including NLFI and Banco Santander S.A. that held an aggregate 40% equity stake in Alawwal bank, the British bank said in a statement. RBS also had an interest equivalent to a 15.3% stake in Alawwal bank.
RBS said that as a result of the merger completion, it would recognise an income gain on disposal of the Alawwal bank stake for shares received in Saudi British Bank of almost $503 million and a reduction in risk weighted assets of nearly $5 billion.
RBS also said the deal would extinguish legacy liabilities of almost $377.
The changes would increase the bank's CET1 core capital ratio by 60 basis points, it said.
The merger will also help RBS to focus on its target markets, RBS chief executive Ross McEwan said in a statement.
RBS, which was rescued in 2008 with a nearly $57 billion capital injection by the British government, has been shrinking its overseas operations since the financial crisis to focus on its UK lending operations.