Saudi Arabia and UAE leading the MENA region in becoming AI hub

Saudi Arabia and UAE leading the MENA region in becoming AI hub
According to a study conducted by global consultancy firm Proviti Middle East, more than 80 percent of CEOs in the region believe the technology is critical to the future of their businesses. (LEAP)
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Updated 01 April 2023
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Saudi Arabia and UAE leading the MENA region in becoming AI hub

Saudi Arabia and UAE leading the MENA region in becoming AI hub
  • Market for the advanced technology in the region will witness a compound annual growth rate of 47.8 percent

RIYADH: The artificial intelligence market in the Middle East and North Africa region is expected to grow from $500 million in 2020 to $8.4 billion by 2026, according to a new report.

The findings by firm Research and Markets suggests that the market for the advanced technology in the region will witness a compound annual growth rate of 47.8 percent, with Saudi Arabia and the UAE leading from the front.

According to the report, the value of the artificial intelligence market in the UAE alone will reach $1.9 billion by 2026, representing 36.2 percent growth.

Business leaders in the Middle East region also consider AI crucial in the coming years for their operational growth. According to a study conducted by global consultancy firm Proviti Middle East, more than 80 percent of CEOs in the region believe the technology is critical to the future of their businesses, and over 70 percent of them are investing in the booming sector. 

Understanding the potential of AI, Saudi Arabia is heavily investing in the industry, as the Kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund announced in 2019 a $500 billion investment in AI and other emerging technologies over the next decade.

The Kingdom has also launched several initiatives, including the establishment of the Saudi Arabian Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority and the National Data Management Office, to accelerate the implementation of AI in the Kingdom’s various sectors.

The UAE is also boosting its involvement in the technology, and has launched the National Artificial Intelligence Strategy 2031, with its focus on attracting talent for jobs of the future, funding research and innovation hubs, and developing appropriate infrastructure and data ecosystems along with a balanced legislative environment.

As nations and companies across the world steadily embrace AI, a recent report from investment bank Goldman Sachs suggested it could take the place of 300 million full-time jobs around the world. 

FASTFACT

Understanding the potential of AI, Saudi Arabia is heavily investing in the industry, as the Kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund announced in 2019 a $500 billion investment in AI and other emerging technologies over the next decade.

The report predicted that administrative and legal sectors will be at the highest risk, with 46 percent of administrative jobs and 44 percent of legal positions at risk of replacement by AI.

According to the report, physically intensive jobs are expected to face less risk, with construction facing a 6 percent threat, whereas maintenance is at 4 percent threat.

“The combination of significant labor cost savings, new job creation, and a productivity boost for non-displaced workers raises the possibility of a labor productivity boom like those that followed the emergence of earlier general-purpose technologies like the electric motor and personal computer,” stated the bank in a note titled The Potentially Large Effects of Artificial Intelligence on Economic Growth.

The Goldman Sachs report, however, added that technological advances which initially replace workers will create employment growth in the long term.

“Although the impact of AI on the labor market is likely to be significant, most jobs and industries are only partially exposed to automation and are thus more likely to be complemented rather than substituted by AI,” said the report.

Goldman Sachs further pointed out that the roll out of AI could boost labor productivity, and push global growth up by 7 percent year-on-year over a 10-year period.


Arab finance ministers discuss multilateralism, economic development at G20 meeting in Brazil

Arab finance ministers discuss multilateralism, economic development at G20 meeting in Brazil
Updated 01 March 2024
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Arab finance ministers discuss multilateralism, economic development at G20 meeting in Brazil

Arab finance ministers discuss multilateralism, economic development at G20 meeting in Brazil
  • Egypt, UAE attended as guests alongside Saudi Arabia, the only Arab G20 member
  • Saudi minister: Fair trade practices must be promoted ‘to enhance economic opportunities for developing countries’

SAO PAULO: The meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bank governors that took place in Brazil on Feb. 28-29 could not be concluded with a joint statement as there was no consensus over the conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza.

But many of the leaders who attended shared similar concerns regarding the topics suggested as priorities by Brazil, which is the current president of the forum, especially reducing inequality and building multilateral cooperation to address the most pressing global issues such as sustainable development and financial stability.

Three Arab nations took part in the meeting. Besides Saudi Arabia, which is the only Arab member of the G20, Egypt and the UAE attended as guests. They manifested concurrent views regarding the central themes of the forum.

Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan, who headed the Saudi delegation along with Saudi Central Bank Gov. Ayman Al-Sayari, affirmed during one of the event’s sessions that “addressing debt vulnerabilities in low-income countries cannot happen without multilateral cooperation from all stakeholders, including creditors, debtors, international financial institutions, and the private sector,” the ministry’s media center reported.

Al-Jadaan added that fair trade practices must be promoted “in order to enhance economic opportunities for developing countries.”

Regarding low-income nations’ debt, he said implementation of the G20 Common Framework, an initiative launched a few years ago to support poor countries with unsustainable debt, must go on.

Mohamed Hadi Al-Hussaini, the UAE’s minister for financial affairs, expressed his country’s commitment to reducing inequalities through financial inclusion, Emirates News Agency reported.

He cited the Financial Infrastructure Transformation Programme, launched in 2023 with the goal of speeding up the digital transition in the financial sector.

The initiative shares the same principles as the G20-supported Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion.

Al-Hussaini said innovative instruments may have a relevant role in promoting development, mentioning green bonds and sukuk, a Shariah-compliant bond used in Islamic finance.

He also addressed the UAE’s efforts regarding energy transition and combating climate change.

The Emirati government has been helping vulnerable nations enhance their climate resilience. The UAE pledged $200 million to the Resilience Sustainability Trust in December 2023.

Al-Hussaini said the UAE decided to prioritize multilateral cooperation during the 13th World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference, which was held in Abu Dhabi on Feb. 26-29 and discussed new models for global trade.

Egyptian Finance Minister Mohamed Maait emphasized in his speech that developing nations have been impacted by challenging situations in recent months, something that affects their budgets and their ability to meet their citizens’ needs amid growing inflation crises, Ahram Online reported.

He said international cooperation is fundamental to support countries that are struggling to maintain their efforts for social protection.

He added that Egypt gained great experience in relief programs in recent years. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the country increased its support programs in order to assist vulnerable social segments at a time of economic hardship and high inflation. Any reform needs social programs if the goal is to obtain success, he stressed.

Al-Jadaan had bilateral meetings with Maait, Ilan Goldfajn, who heads the Inter American Development Bank, the French delegation and US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. Al-Sayari met with his Turkish counterpart.

According to a statement released by the US Treasury Department, Al-Jadaan and Yellen discussed the Saudi economy, “the progress of its reform program” and the need to “work together effectively in both bilateral and multilateral settings.”

Al-Hussaini met with the finance ministers of South Africa and Germany, as well as the executive president of the Development Bank of Latin America and the Caribbean.


Oil Updates – crude rises, markets await OPEC+ decision amid mixed demand drivers

Oil Updates – crude rises, markets await OPEC+ decision amid mixed demand drivers
Updated 01 March 2024
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Oil Updates – crude rises, markets await OPEC+ decision amid mixed demand drivers

Oil Updates – crude rises, markets await OPEC+ decision amid mixed demand drivers

SINGAPORE: Oil prices edged up on Friday and were set to end the week modestly higher as markets awaited an OPEC+ decision on supply agreements for the second quarter amid differing demand indicators for key consumers US and China, according to Reuters.

Brent futures for May climbed 31 cents, or 0.38 percent, to $82.22 a barrel by 9:45 a.m. Saudi time, while US West Texas Intermediate for April rose 24 cents, or 0.31 percent, to $78.50.

WTI is on track for at least a 2.5 percent increase this week, while Brent is holding near last week’s settlement price. Brent has hovered comfortably above the $80 mark for three weeks.

“Brent crude prices continued to trade sideways this week ... Brent at $83/bbl has shown recent strength although fundamentals remain tilted to oversupply,” said BMI analysts in a client note.

“Expectations of a continuation of OPEC+ production cuts into Q224 is also weighing on sentiment as soft demand is expected to persist ... However, timespreads for Brent futures contracts have widened. The move to stronger backwardation (market structure) will be supportive of a more bullish stance for prices as markets are pricing in tightening in the months ahead,” the analysts added.

A Reuters survey showed the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries pumped 26.42 million barrels per day this month, up 90,000 bpd from January. Libyan output rose month-on-month by 150,000 bpd.

A decision on extending the cuts is expected in the first week of March, sources have said, with individual countries expected to announce their decisions.

Increasing possibilities of OPEC+ continuing with the supply cuts beyond the first quarter, potentially till the end of 2024, will likely keep oil prices above $80 a barrel, said DBS Bank energy sector team lead Suvro Sarkar.

Strong expectations of Saudi Arabia keeping term prices of crude it sells to Asian customers little changed in April from March levels also underpinned the market.

Supporting prices, the Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge, the US personal consumption expenditures index, showed January inflation in line with economists’ expectations, reinforcing market bets for a June interest rate cut. This in turn could lower consumer costs and spur fuel buying activity.

However, a mixed bag of February purchasing managers’ index data from China, the world’s top oil consumer, capped price gains.

China’s manufacturing activity in February contracted for a fifth straight month, an official factory survey showed on Friday, raising pressure on Beijing policymakers to roll out further stimulus measures as factory owners struggle for orders.

“Demand side we concur that 2Q will have hiccups and we are projecting Brent to average lower in 2Q24 compared to 1Q24, before rebounding in 2H24 on the back of the potential rate cut scenario, which should boost fund flows toward riskier assets,” said DBS Bank’s Sarkar. 


Inter-Arab trade at $700bn: Union of Arab Chambers

Inter-Arab trade at $700bn: Union of Arab Chambers
Updated 29 February 2024
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Inter-Arab trade at $700bn: Union of Arab Chambers

Inter-Arab trade at $700bn: Union of Arab Chambers
  • Secretary-general attends World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference in Abu Dhabi
  • ‘The Arab region’s presence in such events aids in shaping policies for freer global trade’

SAO PAULO: Inter-Arab trade stands at $700 billion, constituting 10-11 percent of global trade, the secretary-general of the Union of Arab Chambers said on Thursday during the 13th World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference in Abu Dhabi.

In an interview with Emirates News Agency on the sidelines of the event, Khaled Hanafy highlighted the potential for increased trade, expanded business opportunities, job creation and economic growth across the Arab world through standardization, improved logistics and private sector engagement.

The UAE’s strategic positioning and robust infrastructure make it a preferred hub for international businesses seeking access to international markets, Hanafy said.

Its hosting of prestigious events such as COP28 and the WTO Ministerial Conference underscores its global leadership, communication prowess and influence in international forums, he added.

“The Arab region’s presence in such events aids in shaping policies for freer global trade,” Hanafy said, adding that the conference strengthens the UAC’s position as a representative of the Arab private sector within the WTO, potentially leading to observer status in key technical committees.

This, he said, would empower the UAC to exert greater influence on decisions shaping international trade flows.

The Arab world’s private sector contributes over 75 percent of the region’s gross domestic product, roughly equivalent to $3 trillion. This sector also plays a vital role in employment generation.

Hanafy emphasized the need for even greater private sector involvement in trade to foster business growth and achieve sustainable development across Arab nations.

He championed the UAC’s role in fostering trade cooperation within the Arab world, encompassing both commercial and investment activities.

Hanafy also advocated for the establishment of the Arab Common Market, outlining essential principles for achieving economic unity across the region.

This was the official debut of the Arab private sector at a WTO Ministerial Conference.

With unprecedented access granted to businesses at the event, representatives from regional chambers of commerce seized the opportunity to voice their concerns and aspirations.

Hanafy emphasized the significance of this inclusion at a roundtable event on the sidelines, saying: “This is the first time the Arab private sector is welcomed. The Arab private sector must be here.

“This is a great opportunity. There’s an objective: We want to see the Arab private sector have a larger role.”

Promoting economic cooperation and integration across the Arab world, the UAC unites chambers of commerce, industry and agriculture from the 22 Arab League member states.

It supports governmental and civil society initiatives to strengthen regional economic ties in commerce, industry, agriculture, finance, investment and services.


Saudi Arabia’s industrial sector focussing on small investors, minister says

Saudi Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar bin Ibrahim AlKhorayef. (@BAlkhorayef)
Saudi Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar bin Ibrahim AlKhorayef. (@BAlkhorayef)
Updated 29 February 2024
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Saudi Arabia’s industrial sector focussing on small investors, minister says

Saudi Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar bin Ibrahim AlKhorayef. (@BAlkhorayef)
  • AlKhorayef said that the ministry has a financing program with simple conditions for small investors and entrepreneurs

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s industrial sector has recently focused on small investors, the Kingdom’s Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar bin Ibrahim AlKhorayef has said.

Speaking to Al-Ekhbariya TV, the minister said that the ministry has a financing program with simple conditions for small investors and entrepreneurs.

The minister indicated that the business model of industrial cities, like the MODON oasis in Al-Ahsa, created a new opportunity for a certain type of investor and industry.

He added that most of the spaces in the industrial cities will be made up of ready-built factories, as this will largely reduce the financial burden on the investor, shorten the construction period, and facilitate obtaining the necessary licenses.


Ministry of Economy and Planning signs MoU with Saudi National Institute of Health

Representatives of Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Economy and Planning and the Saudi National Institute of Health sign a MoU.
Representatives of Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Economy and Planning and the Saudi National Institute of Health sign a MoU.
Updated 29 February 2024
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Ministry of Economy and Planning signs MoU with Saudi National Institute of Health

Representatives of Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Economy and Planning and the Saudi National Institute of Health sign a MoU.
  • MoU aims to develop and align the strategic direction of national development priorities and economic policies in line with the objectives of Saudi Vision 2030

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Economy and Planning signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Saudi National Institute of Health, the ministry announced on Thursday.

The MoU aims to develop and align the strategic direction of national development priorities and economic policies in line with the objectives of Saudi Vision 2030.

It also aims to enable the decision-making process through the preparation of methodologies and studies, the ministry said.

As part of the MoU, scientific and hands-on experiences will be exchanged and both parties will prepare studies and research related to their work in order to improve quality.

They will also organize joint workshops and training courses to enhance capabilities and skills, and benefit from the infrastructure and public facilities of both parties.