The Middle East is ripe for technology developments and innovation, with its high gross domestic product (GDP) and young population making it an enticing proposition for local and overseas investors.
Nations such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia are leading the region’s push to become a global powerhouse in technology by 2030.
With that in mind, we look at some of the latest exciting technology developments that will have a significant impact in the Middle East over the next few years.
Microsoft Strengthens Presence In The Middle East
Saudi Arabia’s stc Group recently expanded its strategic partnership with global technology giant Microsoft to boost innovation across the country. The partnership agreement was rubber-stamped during Microsoft Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Chairman Satya Nadella’s visit to Saudi Arabia earlier this month.
The two organizations will work together to harness the power of technology and help businesses in a diverse range of industries embrace digital transformation.
Microsoft has also strengthened its foothold in the UAE by signing a memorandum of understanding with Abu Dhabi-based food and beverage company Agthia Group.
The new link-up will accelerate the firm’s efforts to leverage technologies such as artificial intelligence and help them establish app-based stores for their range of products.
Alan Smith, Group Chief Executive Officer of Agthia, said: “Our work with Microsoft will play a pivotal role in Agthia’s ongoing digital transformation, utilizing new tools to navigate the digital landscape.
“This will help us identify opportunities for market expansion, operational excellence, and commercial success while accelerating innovation and responsible, sustainable business practices throughout the FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) value chain.”
UAE Pushing Ahead With Casino Plans
The UAE is on track to capitalize on the global gaming boom by opening a £3.9 billion integrated resort at Ras Al Khaimah in 2027. The recently created General Commercial Gaming Regulatory Authority (GCGRA) will play a key role in creating a framework for the new venture to operate legally.
Led by Ex-MGM Chairman and CEO Jim Murren, the GCGRA will also be responsible for establishing formal licensing and regulatory processes for online operators.
There are already several online casinos for Arabic players operating in the region who currently hold licenses with regulatory organizations in more established jurisdictions.
However, Murren will utilize the expertise he has garnered in the North American market to create a similar set-up within the UAE’s borders.
This will open the door for international operators to apply for licenses to offer online casino games via their website platforms and mobile apps.
MGM Resorts International CEO Bill Hornbuckle recently predicted there will eventually be four land-based casinos in the UAE, which will have the knock-on effect of creating additional demand for online sites.
Saudi Arabia Focuses On Cybersecurity Issues
The Saudi Arabian government and private sector enterprises are currently working with the World Economic Forum to establish fit-for-purpose cybersecurity systems.
The country’s National Cybersecurity Authority (NCA) has also signed four memoranda of understanding for cybersecurity collaboration with Qatar, Romania, Spain, and Kuwait.
One of the biggest cybersecurity concerns for Saudi Arabia is the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and its increased integration into many elements of daily life.
Several high-profile Saudi individuals spoke at length about AI-related cybersecurity issues at the recent Global Cybersecurity Forum in Riyadh.
They included Amin H Nasser, the president, and CEO of Saudi state energy giant Aramco, who stressed the importance of establishing ‘robust AI control and guidelines to advance AI capabilities in a safe, secure and responsible way’.
Nasser highlighted that the world generated 97 zettabytes of data last year, and the volume is predicted to reach 175 zettabytes by 2025.
While this helps businesses serve customers more efficiently, it also presents a massive challenge in terms of ensuring the risk of cyberattacks is minimized.
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