Middle East Archives — Carrington Malin

April 26, 2024

The Middle East region has limited oversight and no real regulation for AI, however the technology’s influence is growing fast is already having a growing impact in recruitment, HR, banking, healthcare and security.

The fast-growing role of artificial intelligence is creating a growing need for Middle East AI regulation and governance. The influence of AI technologies is growing fast and can already impact who gets a job, who is eligible for a loan, and even what kind of medical treatment a patient receives.

MIT Sloan Management Review Middle East asked me to comment on the region’s AI policymaking related to ethics and governance, and also how businesses in the region are dealing with these issues.

Ethics, governance and responsible AI has definitely been added to government agendas during the past few years, as countries in the Middle East strive to embrace AI effectively and take their place in the global AI ecosystem. As a result, there are an increasing number of guidelines and policy frameworks developed by government departments, regulators, and public authorities in the region.

The Middle East is certainly watching the progress of the EU AI Act, and we expect to see AI regulation come into the Middle East. I think, as with the GDPR Act, it inspired more data protection laws worldwide and continues to do so. And so, that’s a role that the EU AI Act might play.

The question is when will AI governance policies make it into legislation. The recent passing of the EU AI Act may prompt some countries to being introducing legislation, but the truth is that no one really knows when the EU AI Act will come into effect and what revisions may be made before that happens.

However, in my view – due to the speed at which AI is accelerating, the sheer volume of use cases and its far-reaching impact – sitting back and waiting for government regulation should not be an option. Organisations, individuals and tech firms can help ensure a better AI future today, by embracing best practices for ethics and governance, and choosing products and services that make a commitment to the ethical, responsible and transparent use of AI.

You can read May El Habachi’s full article in MIT Sloan Management Review here:

January 25, 2021

Despite the economic pressures of the past few years and the disruption of the pandemic, there is so much going on in tech in the Middle East at the moment. So, there was no shortage of material for Damian Radcliffe’s annual Middle East technology predictions story in ZDnet, which quoted me and others from the region’s tech ecosystem on a wide variety of trends including 5G, emerging technologies, government investment, startups, smart cities, open data and cybersecurity.

Prior to the pandemic IDC forecast that investments in digital transformation and innovation will account for 30 percent of all IT spending in the Middle East, Turkey, and Africa (META) by 2024, up from 18 percent in 2018. Meanwhile, it has predicted that government enterprise IT spending in META will top $8 billion in 2021.

During the past 12-18 months we have seen significant activity in several key areas of government spending, including digital transformation, creating Government Clouds, introducing open data policies and platforms, digital services and robotics. Then there was the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA) announcement of the Kingdom’s National Strategy for Data & AI (NSDAI) in October, revealing plans to raise $20 billion in investment for data and AI initiatives.

My expectation is that some of the government digital platforms and initiatives that have been created over the past 18 months will support the launch of a variety of new initiatives, local and foreign investment, public-private sector partnerships and opportunities for startups during 2021.

You can read Damian’s full article on what 2021 means for tech in the Middle East here.

August 21, 2020

A great roundup about artificial intelligence in the Middle East by Damian Radcliffe, Carolyn S Chambers Professor in Journalism at the University of Oregon, which quotes me commenting on Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. With IT spending in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) forecast by IDC to reach $83 billion this year, AI is going to become an increasing focus.

IDC also predicts that investment in AI systems across MEA will hit $374.2 million this year, up from $261.8 million in 2018 and a projected expenditure of $310.3 million in 2019. However, with many AI technologies in high demand since the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic, one has to wonder how this will affect IDC’s forecasts – not just in the MEA region, but globally too.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE had both begun investing in new AI technologies for government use, planning how to encourage AI-powered innovations and looking at regulatory requirements for their Fourth Industrial Revolution future. However, the advent of coronavirus has certainly fueled both interest and investment in artificial intelligence, with public and private sectors investing in automation, data analysis, robotics, health and safety systems, plus technologies to enhance contactless delivery of consumer services.

Despite forcing the cancellation of many high tech events around the region, the pandemic has also, arguably, fast tracked government plans and policies to harness AI and create a business environment conducive to driving successful digital economies. The UAE is reported to have improved plans for leveraging AI consistent with its national AI strategy, while Dubai announced a new comprehensive drone law in July. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia approved its own national artificial intelligence strategy in August – and muted that it would soon introduce a comprehensive law to govern commercial and recreational drone use in the Kingdom.

For more on artificial intelligence in the Middle East read Damian’s full article here.

January 22, 2020

I was delighted to be able to contribute to Damian Radcliffe‘s Middle East technology predictions feature for ZDNet, rounding up expert predictions for 2020 on 5G and 4G adoption, venture funding, retail tech and artificial intelligence.

I was asked: as the Middle East and North Africa’s spending on AI continues to grow, will the region ever become more than simply a consumer of artificial intelligence?

Read the full article here.