Artificial Intelligence and Cleaner Oil May Have A Bright Future


Key Points:

* Several countries are using AI to diversify and strengthen their economies.

* As AI progresses, countries develop their own AI plans to meet their unique demands.

* In the oil and gas industry, artificial intelligence (AI) boosts productivity while allowing corporations to control pollutants better.

* A significant amount of money is being poured into AI education to cultivate future AI leaders in the United States.

As part of their continued attempts to broaden their economies and provide the groundwork for long-term development, MENA countries are increasingly turning to artificial intelligence (AI). Investments in AI by governments, universities, and the business sector have rekindled interest from industry leaders worldwide in the MENA region’s potential for AI to improve economic efficiency and sustainability.

The Economist Impact Unit (EIU) and Google released a paper earlier this year estimating that artificial intelligence (AI) may add $320 billion to the MENA region’s GDP by 2030.

This region has developed several long-term economic strategies that are focused on high-value industries that are poised to benefit from the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which will bring about a convergence of the natural and virtual worlds through advances in artificial intelligence (AI), big data (big), and cloud computing (cloud computing).

How AI may help the economy:

In the last several years, the governments of the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Egypt have unveiled ambitious AI development plans. Their pace was slowed somewhat in the first months of this epidemic as people’s focus shifted to other issues, including health care, the general economy, and falling oil costs.

For now, though, the epidemic has shown that economic diversification is critical. Some MENA countries have increased their investments in non-hydrocarbon industries where AI may play an important role.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) investment in the business sector is expected to rise by 40% by 2020, according to data from Stanford University, which highlights the growing interest in AI and its potential applications, particularly in high-value-added areas.

AI technologies, including robotic process automation and machine learning, can streamline various processes in industries like manufacturing, logistics, and finance. Hence, businesses can increase productivity, reduce operational costs, and optimize resource allocation.

MENA countries are known for their ambitious infrastructure projects. AI can significantly create smart cities by optimizing traffic management, improving energy consumption, and enhancing public services like waste management and healthcare. AI can revolutionize healthcare in the region, from personalized medicine and drug discovery to remote patient monitoring and early disease detection.

Investment in AI also means educating the local workforce in AI-related skills, creating a highly skilled talent pool capable of driving innovation. Implementing AI in government services can improve citizen engagement, streamline bureaucratic processes, and enhance public service delivery.

In addition, software analytics companies, such as ArrowHead, can help businesses improve their cybersecurity and operations using AI. AI-based analytics can continuously monitor network traffic and system logs, detecting unusual behavior and potential cyber threats in real time.

AI tools can also optimize supply chain management by predicting demand, improving inventory management, and identifying potential bottlenecks in the supply chain. The same holds with sales and marketing activities. Furthermore, AI-powered analytics can provide businesses with a better understanding of customers’ preferences and needs, enabling them to personalize products and services, thereby increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Strategic Gears, a Saudi management consultant, proposed in a paper released in March that the kingdom concentrates on using AI to increase three areas that currently account for more than half of GDP: oil and gas, government services, and financial services. Other sectors that stand to gain from this new technology include the following: manufacturing, health care, education, automotive, retail, and transportation.

AI is predicted to have a far-reaching influence on the economy, not only in the ICT and tech-based areas, and will be essential to realising long-term economic ambitions.

Said bin Abdullah Al Mandhari, CEO of ITHCA Group, an Omani ICT firm, told OBG that AI is helping businesses become more customer-centric, efficient, productive, and competitive in local and regional markets.

“This is already the case in Oman’s oil and gas industry, and moving forward will be imperative for priority sectors like fisheries, tourism and logistics. AI can ultimately help unlock these sectors’ potential, see them become significant contributors to national GDP and help achieve their targets under Oman Vision 2040.”

There is much room for AI to make a difference in cybersecurity. Since Russia invaded Ukraine, cyberattacks have increased, posing a more significant threat to emerging countries.

Media reports state that an AI digital risk monitoring platform from India’s CloudSEK recently detected an elaborate phishing effort that featured the impersonation of the UAE’s Ministry of Human Resources.

Gains in energy efficiency:

To diversify away from oil and gas, as well as to improve efficiency and decrease carbon emissions, governments and firms have invested heavily in AI in the energy industry in the Middle East, where hydrocarbons make up a large amount of GDP.

In the past three years, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) estimates that it has earned $1bn in “commercial value” by using machine learning to mine its historical and present data.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is also expected to play an essential role in facilitating the transition to green energy by controlling the decentralised electrical grids renewable sources rely on and tracking carbon emissions.

To that goal, Arloid Automation, an AI start-up located in London, announced three new collaborations in the Middle East in May to measure and cut emissions. Arloid Automation

Investing for the long term:

Given the enormous number of young people in the Middle East and North Africa region, MENA countries are putting significant resources into AI education, training, and research.

Strategic Gears believes that Saudi Arabia will produce 42% of the $320 billion that the EIU-Google research predicts MENA nations would create by 2030 as a result of the deployment of AI. About three-quarters of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 targets are data and AI-related, and the country intends to train 20,000 data and AI professionals by the end of the decade.

According to the agreement reached with King Abdullah University in April, Aramco will create a new research centre to promote artificial intelligence technology.

The founding of the Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI) in 2019 was one of the UAE’s most significant expenditures on AI education. In terms of computer science metrics-based platforms, MBZUAI, located in Masdar City’s smart city and innovation cluster, ranks 30th internationally among institutes conducting AI, computer vision, machine learning, and natural language processing research.

In addition, Carnegie Mellon University in the United States offers a branch campus in Qatar where students can pursue AI-related degrees and research. The Qatar Centre for Artificial Intelligence (QCAI) is also located in the nation, attempting to recruit AI expertise and develop a research and policy centre for the field.

MENA nations may design and implement AI-specific policies and ecosystems to benefit from AI’s many benefits.

The Egyptian government, for example, has allocated funding for teacher training programmes and other AI-related vocational projects as part of its attempts to harness AI for economic growth and quality of life improvements.

Regarding AI education, some industry insiders believe that emerging markets, such as those in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), may gain an advantage over industrialised countries by utilising local talent.

“With the drive towards affordability – a defining trait in developing markets – now also a feature of more advanced markets, software engineers in developing markets are gaining a competitive advantage based on the combination of their inherent affinity for cost-effective solutions and the possibilities opened up by AI,” Soham Chokshi, CEO and co-founder of logistics software provider Shipsy, told OBG.

However, countries in the area will also need to encourage investment to reap the benefits of this competitive edge.

“For Oman Vision 2040 to become a reality and accelerate economic development, the country needs to work on creating a business environment conducive to greater investment in advanced technology, particularly in the area of AI and data analytics,” Maqbool Al Wahaibi, CEO of Oman Data Park, told OBG. “In this context, local IT companies must prepare to compete against global players expanding their presence in the local market.”

As originally reported in