GCC is a world leader in AI usage — but that comes with risks

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GCC is a world leader in AI usage — but that comes with risks

GCC is a world leader in AI usage — but that comes with risks
Firms need to consider ways to retrain existing workers at risk of AI displacement. (Shutterstock image)
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Generative AI was one of the hottest topics at the World Governments Summit in Dubai this week. And it is no wonder: The launch of ChatGPT in November 2022 sparked a frenzy of interest in generative AI around the world that has only grown stronger since.

But few regions have shown more excitement for the technology than the Gulf Cooperation Council area. In the UAE and Saudi Arabia, for example, 74 percent and 68 percent of workers respectively said they use generative AI in some capacity at least once a week.

That is according to a 19-nation survey of more than 25,000 employees conducted in November by my firm’s think tank, the Oliver Wyman Forum. Only India was higher, at 83 percent. The global average, meanwhile, was already high at 55 percent.

This strong showing for the GCC region has been years in the making. Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have all been leaders in establishing national AI strategies, which were in place long before the arrival of ChatGPT.

Countries in the region are also investing heavily in generative AI foundational models.

But while the GCC is a world leader in generative AI adoption, regional companies are not always keeping up in training employees to use the tools safely.

In the UAE and Saudi Arabia, 61 percent and 57 percent of workers respectively said the training their companies provide was insufficient, according to the survey data. In Qatar the figure is 62 percent, tied with Mexico for third place in the world behind China and Singapore.

The combination of intense interest in generative AI among workers and sometimes insufficient company guardrails poses potential risks for GCC business leaders, from data loss and misinformation to talent retention.

Most urgently, companies need to provide clear guidelines and high-quality training to protect sensitive data. Some 92 percent of UAE workers, for example, said they have exposed company data by using generative AI tools at some point.

These capabilities, like analyzing a dataset, summarizing internal reports or transcribing meeting notes, promise massive returns in productivity. But they also bring data risks that business leaders must manage both quickly and aggressively.

While the GCC is a world leader in generative AI adoption, regional companies are not always keeping up in training employees to use the tools safely.

Nick Studer

And then there is the issue of talent. Despite GCC workers’ intense interest in generative AI and its potential to enhance productivity, they are also among the most anxious about its consequences.

Some 82 percent of UAE workers, for example, said they are concerned that generative AI will make their jobs redundant — greater than the global average of 60 percent.

Employers also need to be transparent about how generative AI will impact hiring and capacity to discourage workers from fleeing unnecessarily.

They can address the issue by providing clear and regular communications about how the technology will change the world of work.

Companies could follow the proactive example of one global tech company, which recently decided not to fill positions that generative AI is likely to eliminate in the next five years.

Firms should also consider ways to retrain existing workers at risk of AI displacement. One major retailer, for example, recently launched an AI bot that can handle run-of-the-mill customer questions, so it retrained call center workers to become interior design advisers.

Foreseeing and responding to such challenges clearly has a vital role to play in policymaking, as does defining clear goals and objectives. As such, governments across the region have been planning for this transformation for years.

Qatar’s National AI Strategy includes pillars on talent attraction strategies and the changing landscape of employment. The UAE’s strategy, launched in 2017, has eight key objectives, including those on strong governance, developing a fertile ecosystem and enabling world-class research.

In Saudi Arabia, the National Strategy for Data and AI has set clear objectives, including attracting $20 billion in investments in data and AI, enriching data and AI entrepreneurship to create 300 startups, and empowering institutions so that the country ranks among the top 20 in terms of scientific contribution. All of these goals are earmarked for 2030.

Used wisely, AI can be a powerful tool to enable the global workforce to get more done. But to unlock its full potential, business leaders must provide the upskilling, clear protocols and transparency necessary to ensure those workers are reassured, educated effectively and well-prepared for the future.

Nick Studer is president and CEO of the global management consultancy Oliver Wyman Group.
 

 

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point of view

Philippines deploys river rangers in battle against plastic

Philippines deploys river rangers in battle against plastic
Updated 1 min 48 sec ago
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Philippines deploys river rangers in battle against plastic

Philippines deploys river rangers in battle against plastic
  • The Philippines produces about 61,000 tons of trash every day, up to 24% of it plastic
  • The country is the world’s top source of plastic that ends up in the oceans

MANILA: Using a long-handled net, Ronnel Narvas scoops up discarded plastic soft drink bottles, shopping bags and palm-sized sachets as he wades through a foul-smelling tributary in the Philippine capital Manila.
Narvas, 30, is one of more than a thousand rangers employed by the government to clean up the city’s waterways, where tons of rubbish end up every year.
“It’s disappointing, because no matter how diligent we are at cleaning up, the garbage does not run out,” Narvas said of the never-ending battle against trash.
“But we need to persevere... at least we are managing to reduce it instead of letting it pile up more.”
Inadequate garbage collection services, lack of disposal and recycling facilities, and grinding poverty have been blamed for the growing problem of plastic waste across the country.
The Philippines produces about 61,000 tons of trash every day, up to 24 percent of it plastic, figures from the environment department show.
The country is the world’s top source of plastic that ends up in the oceans, a 2021 study by Dutch non-profit The Ocean Cleanup found.
It said the Pasig river, which flows through the capital and into Manila Bay, is the “most polluting” in the world.
Sachets and other single-use plastics are a huge part of the problem.
“When the rains come, we are literally swimming (in) them,” Environment Secretary Maria Antonia Loyzaga said last month.
“But on a daily basis, we consume plastics in the fish caught in our seas, through the substandard water bottles we use and in the very air we breathe,” Loyzaga added.
Nieves Denso, a 63-year-old widow, sells small packets of powdered chocolate, coffee, milk, shampoo and detergent from her tiny shop in a riverside slum in Manila.
Sachets are popular in the Philippines, where many people cannot afford to buy household products in large quantities.
Denso collects the empty sachets and every few days she pays children 10 pesos (17 US cents) to take the garbage to a nearby road where she hopes it will be collected.
But she admitted she has no idea if her trash ends up there, or if the children throw it in the river or on vacant land where many of her neighbors discard their waste.
“I put everything in one container and that’s it,” Denso said when asked if she separates plastic from other waste.
“It’s the government’s responsibility to make people comply.”
Emma Gillego, who lives in a stilt shanty overlooking the Paranaque river, has not seen a garbage truck in her neighborhood since her family moved there 20 years ago.
Plastic litters the ground even though city sanitation workers visit several times a year to teach residents about waste segregation.
“We don’t tell off our neighbors who throw garbage into the water because we don’t want to meddle with their lives,” Gillego, 58, said.
Lawmakers have enacted a series of environmental measures in recent years, covering everything from rolling out recycling centers to compelling companies to take responsibility for their plastic waste.
“The Philippines has made really commendable efforts in pushing all these legislation efforts together,” senior World Bank environmental specialist Junu Shrestha said.
While the legislation gave the Philippines a “road map” in dealing with the waste management problem, implementing it was “another challenge,” Shrestha said.
In Manila, where more than 14 million people live, only 60 percent of rubbish is collected, sorted and recycled daily, according to a 2022 World Bank report.
Loyzaga said that the country was in the “infancy stage” of waste segregation and recycling, and she did not see an end to the use of single-use plastic.
“It performs a certain function at the moment for a certain income group in our economy,” she said.
While it was unpleasant standing in putrid water for hours on end, river ranger Narvas believed his efforts were helping to reduce flooding in areas along the waterway.
He just wished the community would stop throwing their rubbish in the water.
“It’s disheartening,” Narvas said.
“But this is our job and we’re used to that. We just keep on going.”


Pakistani charities prepare to dispatch sacrificial meat to Gaza ahead of Eid Al-Adha

Pakistani charities prepare to dispatch sacrificial meat to Gaza ahead of Eid Al-Adha
Updated 19 min 29 sec ago
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Pakistani charities prepare to dispatch sacrificial meat to Gaza ahead of Eid Al-Adha

Pakistani charities prepare to dispatch sacrificial meat to Gaza ahead of Eid Al-Adha
  • A global hunger monitor has warned of imminent famine in parts of Gaza, home to 2.3 million people
  • This Eid will be second in Gaza since Israel launched a war on Hamas, killing over 35,000 Palestinians

KARACHI: Ahead of the Muslim holiday of Eid Al-Adha, a number of major Pakistani charity organizations say they are preparing to dispatch sacrificial meat to the people of Gaza amid a dire humanitarian crisis in the occupied Palestinian territory.

A global hunger monitor has warned of imminent famine in parts of Gaza, home to 2.3 million people. This Eid will be the second in the besieged enclave since Israel launched a war on Hamas that has killed more than 35,000 Palestinians. 

Aid access into southern Gaza has been disrupted since Israel stepped up military operations in Rafah, a move that the UN says has forced 900,000 people to flee. Rafah was a main entry point for humanitarian relief as well as some commercial supplies between Egypt and the Gaza Strip before Israel stepped up its military offensive on the Gazan side of the border on May 6 and took control of the crossing from the Palestinian side.

Al-Khidmat Foundation (AKF), one of the largest humanitarian organizations in Pakistan with an international footprint, said it would sacrifice animals ahead of Eid Al-Adha both in Pakistan and Egypt, and collaborate with Turkish non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to ship the meat to Gaza.

“We will sacrifice [animals] in Egypt in large numbers so that it is easy to deliver meat from Egypt and we are also arranging for sacrifice in Pakistan as this year a lot of Turkish NGOs have come to Pakistan and they want the sacrifice to be done in Pakistan,” Qazi Sadaruddin, a director at AKF, told Arab News, adding that there was an “overwhelming” demand among Pakistanis that their meat be dispatched to victims of Israel’s war on Gaza “who deserve it the most.”

“The meat from Pakistan will be converted into ready-to-eat form before dispatching it, because sending raw meat is very difficult,” Sadaruddin said.

“We have booked the whole slaughterhouse, we have got an idea that 3,000 to 4,000 animals will be slaughtered at Al-Khidmat platform and will be converted into ready-to-eat meat and sent there [Gaza].” 

He said queries were continuously pouring in from Pakistani clients on how they could send meat to the Palestinian people.

“They wish for a significant portion of the meat to reach Palestine,” Sadaruddin said. 

“We have received numerous inquiries from people in the UK, many from Saudi Arabia, and other countries as well and their funds will also start transferring.”

Other charities have also seen a rise in people wanting to send meat to Gaza. 

“As the time for [Eid] sacrifice is approaching, people are turning to us and demanding we make a sacrifice in Gaza,” Muhammad Fayyaz, CEO of the Khadija-tul-Kubra Welfare Trust (KKWT), told Arab News.

As it was not possible to offer the sacrifice in Gaza in view of the Israeli air and ground strikes, KKWT plans to slaughter animals in Pakistan and dispatch their ready-to-eat meat to Gaza in tin packs with a long shelf life, Fayyaz explained. 

“We have thought of an alternate way to make a sacrifice in Karachi on the theme of Gaza,” he told Arab News. “The animals will be slaughtered and their meat will go to catering companies. They will dry the meat and pack it in a tin. The cooked meat will be packed in a tin in ready-to-eat form.”

“I have booked my share for the people of Gaza and I would request my friends and the people who come to mosque and those who can afford to donate as much as they can to the people of Gaza,” Muhammad Azhar Khan, a resident of Karachi’s upscale Defense Housing Authority (DHA) area, told Arab News. “They are in a dire need of food right now.”
 


Boston Celtics sweep Indiana Pacers to reach NBA finals

Boston Celtics sweep Indiana Pacers to reach NBA finals
Updated 18 min 55 sec ago
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Boston Celtics sweep Indiana Pacers to reach NBA finals

Boston Celtics sweep Indiana Pacers to reach NBA finals
  • The Celtics will face the winner of the Western Conference finals, where the Dallas Mavericks hold a 3-0 over the Minnesota Timberwolves

WASHINGTON: The Boston Celtics clinched the Eastern Conference championship on Monday with a 105-102 win over the Indiana Pacers, sweeping the series 4-0 and booking a spot in the NBA Finals.
The Celtics will face the winner of the Western Conference finals, where the Dallas Mavericks hold a 3-0 over the Minnesota Timberwolves ahead of Tuesday’s game four.
The Celtics win in Indianapolis was their seventh straight in the post-season but they left it late against a Pacers team again without injured star guard Tyrese Haliburton.
Jaylen Brown once again proved decisive.
He hit a step through to level at 102-102 with 2:40 left in the fourth, then superbly rose to block Andrew Nembhard at the rim.
With 45 seconds remaining Brown found Derrick White in the corner who sank the three-point jumper that ultimately clinched the game.
Nembhard, who had 24 points, 10 assists and six rebounds for the Pacers, missed a three-pointer with 33 seconds left which would have tied the game.
Brown led Boston’s scoring with 29 points and Jayson Tatum had 26 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists.
The Celtics return to the finals two years after losing to the Golden State Warriors as they search for their first NBA title since 2008.
“It’s been nothing but a grind, we haven’t skipped no steps all season,” said Brown, who was named the Eastern Conference finals MVP.
“We’ve got a bunch of great guys in this locker room, tough guys. Our coaching staff has been great, front office great and now we want to take the next step,” he added.
It was the third time in the four series games that Indiana had lost after holding leads or being tied in the final minute of a game.
“Expectations will be raised for next year, which is good,” said Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle.
“There are challenges to meet over the summer for our guys to get better, all of us involved need to get better,” he added.


Public holiday across Pakistan on 26th anniversary of 1998 nuclear tests

Public holiday across Pakistan on 26th anniversary of 1998 nuclear tests
Updated 35 min 10 sec ago
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Public holiday across Pakistan on 26th anniversary of 1998 nuclear tests

Public holiday across Pakistan on 26th anniversary of 1998 nuclear tests
  • Pakistan began program to obtain nuclear weapons after its war with India in 1971 war that led to creation of Bangladesh
  • Army sees its nuclear weapons as essential to offset the conventional superiority of its much bigger neighbor India

ISLAMABAD: A public holiday was announced across Pakistan today, Tuesday, on the 26th anniversary of the South Asian nation conducting nuclear tests in May 1998, shortly after neighboring archrival India conducted similar tests.
Pakistan began a program to obtain nuclear weapons after its war with India in 1971 war that led to the division of the country and the creation of Bangladesh, then East Pakistan. The army sees its nuclear weapons as essential to offset the conventional superiority of its much bigger neighbor.
India sees its own nuclear weapons as a deterrent against Pakistan and China, which defeated it in a border war in 1962.
Pakistan tested nuclear weapons on May 28, 1998, shortly after India announced it had done so. Both countries faced international sanctions as a result, although India has since won effective recognition as a nuclear power following an accord negotiated with the United States. Neither Pakistan nor India have signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
“The nation is observing Youm-e-Takbeer today with national zeal and fervor in remembrance of successful nuclear tests conducted on this day in 1998 that made the defense of the country invincible,” state broadcaster Radio Pakistan said. 
“The day made Pakistan the seventh nuclear nation of the world and the first Muslim state having the nuclear arsenal in its defense stockpile to exercise deterrence for peaceful purposes.”
Radio Pakistan said Prime Minister Shehnaz Sharif had announced a public holiday today “for making Pakistan’s defense impregnable.”
India has much stronger conventional armed forces than Pakistan, but it is widely believed that both countries have comparable nuclear arsenals.
Pakistan has 140-150 nuclear warheads compared to India’s 130-140 warheads, according to a 2018 report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
They are comparable in the sense that both have the capability to strike each other’s territories and cause immense damage and massive loss of life.
In a 2019 Worldwide Threat Assessment, US Director of National Intelligence Daniel R. Coats said, Pakistan “continues to develop new types of nuclear weapons, including short-range tactical weapons, sea-based cruise missiles, air-launched cruise missiles, and longer-range ballistic missiles,” noting that “the new types of nuclear weapons will introduce new risks for escalation dynamics and security in the region” 
The Defense Intelligence Agency appeared to tone down its language slightly in its 2021 and 2022 Worldwide Threat Assessments, stating that “Pakistan very likely will continue to modernize and expand its nuclear capabilities by conducting training with its deployed weapons and developing new delivery systems…” but not explicitly noting inherent escalation risks.
At a Democratic congressional campaign committee reception in 2022, US President Joe Biden said Pakistan may be “one of the most dangerous nations in the world” as the country has “nuclear weapons without any cohesion.”
 
Sharif, then serving his first term as PM, rejected the comments as “factually incorrect and misleading” and said Pakistan had proven to be a “most responsible nuclear state” over the past decades, with its nuclear program managed through a “technically sound and foolproof command and control system.”

“Pakistan has also consistently demonstrated responsible stewardship of its nuclear-weapons capability, marked by a very strong commitment to global standards, including those of IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) on non-proliferation, safety, and security,” a press release from Sharif’s office said. 


Unpredictable Pakistan aim for ‘third time lucky’ at T20 World Cup

Unpredictable Pakistan aim for ‘third time lucky’ at T20 World Cup
Updated 42 min 34 sec ago
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Unpredictable Pakistan aim for ‘third time lucky’ at T20 World Cup

Unpredictable Pakistan aim for ‘third time lucky’ at T20 World Cup
  • Pakistan’s build-up to the tournament, which takes place in West Indies and the USA, has been chaotic
  • Men in green have shown they still have the capacity to be the best outfit one day and the worst the next

KARACHI: Pakistan skipper Babar Azam is hoping it is third time lucky for his side at the Twenty20 World Cup after finishing losing semifinalists in 2021 and runners-up a year later.
Pakistan’s build-up to the tournament, which takes place in West Indies and the USA, has been chaotic, with Azam replacing Shaheen Shah Afridi as captain barely three months before it gets underway.
They squeaked a 2-2 T20 series draw at home against a depleted New Zealand in April before heading to Ireland where they slumped to defeat in the opener before coming back to win that series 2-1.
As now seems to be entirely normal, the men in green have shown they still have the capacity to be the best outfit one day and the worst the next, making them the most unpredictable side in the 20-team event which kicks off in the United States on June 1.
Pakistan are placed alongside India, co-hosts United States, Canada and Ireland in Group A. The top two teams will qualify for the next round of Super Eight, to be held in the West Indies with the final in Barbados on June 29.
If they lose to India in what is likely to be a monumental clash in New York on June 9 — Pakistan have won just one of seven T20 World Cup matches against them — their final group game with Ireland in Florida a week later could become a knock-out affair.
But Azam is confident his side can be lucky this time.
“Semi-final and then final, so it’s our turn to win the trophy this time,” he said before leaving for Ireland.
Since crashing out of the 50-over World Cup in November last year, Pakistan cricket has undergone a multitude of changes with coaching staff changed twice and the white-ball captaincy changed hands from Azam to Shaheen and back.
A news channel owner, Mohsin Naqvi, who is also the country’s interior minister, has taken charge of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).
Naqvi reconstructed the selection committee, held a training camp at an army base to improve the often vulnerable fitness and brought in former South African opener Gary Kirsten as white-ball coach — all to improve their chances in the World Cup.
Fast bowler Mohammad Amir — the only surviving member of Pakistan’s T20 World Cup title win in England in 2009 — and spinner Imad Wasim were brought out of retirement to further bolster the bowling attack, spearheaded by Shaheen and fast-rising Naseem Shah.
“My mood is good and my fitness is good and I am looking forward to winning the World Cup,” Shaheen told a PCB podcast recently, in spite of reported dissent over the captaincy saga.
“I have good partners and when they do well then you are also motivated.”
To spur the players further, Naqvi also announced a $100,000 bonus for each player if they win the World Cup.
Mystery spinner Abrar Ahmed and Shadab Khan supplement Wasim in slow bowling.
“This is the best team with every base covered, so we can win and there should be no excuse,” said Shaheen, whose fitness will be the key for Pakistan.
Pakistan’s batting approach and lack of consistency are big problems.
While the other teams have started to blast totals over 200 regularly, Pakistan have gone 43 T20Is without achieving that figure.
Pakistan rely heavily on Azam and Mohammad Rizwan who have a world record 10 century partnerships between them.
Dashing left-hander Saim Ayub is set to break up the Azam-Rizwan opening partnership which has been criticized for being too slow.
Star batter Fakhar Zaman, newcomer Usman Khan, Azam Khan and Iftikhar Ahmed form a powerful middle-order, but they have struggled for consistency.
If Pakistan are, indeed, to “return with the trophy,” the batters will need to step up and match their bowlers.