The State of AI in GCC Countries—and How to Overcome Adoption Challenges

The State of AI in GCC Countries—and How to Overcome Adoption Challenges

McKinsey experts analyzed the state and dynamics of the implementation of artificial intelligence (AI) technology in the member countries of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC).

The organization estimates that the potential contribution of AI to the development of the regional economy is 9% of total GDP per year (up to $150 billion). More than 140 business representatives from senior and middle management took part in the McKinsey study.

According to respondents, more than 62% of them use AI in at least one business function (corresponding to the level of North America). Among the most striking examples are the blocking of fraudulent users on a food delivery platform (UAE, by Careem), a virtual assistant for managing a water supply system (UAE), and flare emissions monitoring (by Aramco, Saudi Arabia).

The results of the study demonstrate that different sectors of the economy are implementing AI solutions into practice at different rates. Retail companies have made the most progress, with 75% of respondents saying their companies have implemented AI in at least one business function. Competition and a large amount of primary data are the key incentives for innovative development. On the contrary, among the main constraining factors are the size and decentralized structure of the organization, high financial costs, institutional restrictions (a ban on storing data abroad).

To help bring AI into operations, McKinsey recommends:

  • ensure management support for AI solutions by raising their awareness;
  • develop a detailed roadmap for implementing AI projects;
  • increase the attractiveness of employment for IT professionals;
  • consider the possibility of hiring employees remotely;
  • increase funding for professional development programs;
  • expand cooperation with the scientific community;
  • implement project management methods for AI products;
  • improve the usability of the AI product for the employee;
  • improve communication between IT and business teams.

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