VIDEO Tech AI ‘can solve the problems’ for Middle East digital growth By Shruthi Nair September 5, 2023 The Middle East’s digital penetration stands at 4.1 percent of its overall economy – where “China was 15 years ago”, according to a strategist at Swiss bank UBS. A recent technology report published by UBS highlights how the Middle East could be the next digital frontier, and why artificial intelligence could play a pivotal role. The digital economy constitutes IT and internet economy spending, which includes e-commerce, digital advertising, online gaming, streaming services, ride-hailing and fintech. Emirates NBD invests in Swiss fintech Billions being spent to foil rising cyber attacks Race is on for AI chips as nations seek tech supremacy “We expect the region’s digital economy to reach $780 billion by 2030 – up from $180 billion in 2022 – so around 20 percent growth per annum,” says UBS equity strategist Sundeep Gantori. A large opportunity for the region lies in IT spending, which includes investments in hardware, software, services and cybersecurity, he says. Companies, on average, spend four percent of their revenues on IT globally. In the Middle East, it is less than two percent, according to the report. Given that the cost of data breaches in the Middle East is among the highest in the world, companies in the region as well as global investors have an opportunity to step up investments in this space. And AI should be front and centre in these investments, Gantori says. Digital talent comes at a premium, and using generative AI to develop apps, for example could reduce the need for programmers. He believes investing in the right AI platforms can “solve most of the problems the region faces”. Watch the full video to understand the opportunities for the region to become the next digital frontier.