technology industry Archives — Carrington Malin

April 11, 2021
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UAE innovation plans stand to gain from Israel significantly via collaborations following the historic Abraham Accords signed last year. I volunteered a few of my views on the matter to ZDNet’s Damian Radcliffe for his article on ‘how diplomacy is ushering in a new era for Middle East tech‘, which gathers opinion on the Accords impact on the technology sector from Bahrain, Israel, the United Arab Emirates and the US.

I believe that the UAE’s new relationship with Israel, offers technology sectors in both countries enormous opportunities. As the UAE continues to put in policies and incentives to encourage home-grown innovation and attract global tech talent, it can now draw on some of the resources and expertise that have helped Israel to scale its startup ecosystem. Likewise, the growing number of UAE investors interested in early-stage venture capital deals, can learn a lot from their Israeli counterparts.

From the outset, the engagement of Israeli tech firms with the UAE has been enthusiastic, to say the least. Many in the UAE’s technology industry were contacted by dozens of Israeli technology companies in the weeks following the signing of the Abraham Accords. I was personally contacted by more than a hundred members of the Israeli technology sector in the 3-4 weeks following the Accords and conducted dozens of market briefings for startups, investors and technology exporters. We’ve since seen thousands of Israelis fly to the UAE, many of them also from its tech sector and startup ecosystem, not to mention a few high profile deals.

Beyond the initial ‘gold rush’, it remains to be seen how Israeli and UAE technology sectors will invest in each other, compete against one another and collaborate together. However, overall, it seems likely that UAE innovation plans will benefit from the additional technology focus, knowledge and investment inspired by the country’s new relations with Israel.

You can read Damian’s full article on the Abraham Accords impact on the Middle East tech sector here.


January 25, 2021
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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.


January 14, 2021
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It’s been a bumpy ride for GCC technology ecosystems, with plenty of budget cuts, job losses and, due to the onset of Covid-19, slowing venture capital activity. However, some of the region’s most ambitious government initiatives to-date have been put in place to accelerate innovation, talent and growth in the tech sector. Uptake of some technologies also seems to have spiked since the pandemic.

So, is the region’s tech sector growing or cooling off? It’s an interesting question and, as with many questions like this about industries, there’s no simple answer. WIRED Middle East asked me whether I was optimistic about the future of tech in the region. The short answer is that I am very optimistic, although the tech sector is not without its challenges.

It is true that much of the technology sector has been hit hard by the knock-on effect of lower oil prices on GCC IT spending, increase price competition and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on decision making, new projects and project spending. Multinationals and regional technology firms have cut budgets, including staffing and other expenses as a result. However, one really has to drill down to specific technologies, solutions and the current technology needs of customers in the region to fully understand what’s going on. All types of technology business are not contracting. In fact, far from it, some tech firms are growing fast and many of those are working with new emerging technologies for automation, data analytics, AI-powered digital services and other disruptive services and solutions.

There are also contradictory trends when looking at the impact of 2020’s turmoil on jobs and the region’s need to compete for the right tech talent. There are three key driving forces here shaping the region’s tech talent pool: 1) global trends creating new tech jobs and decreasing demand for tech jobs that are being obsoleted and/or impacted by automation, 2) the GCC’s belt-tightening of the past few years due to lower oil prices, forcing public and private sectors to be more cost-effective and 3) the unexpected consequences of Covid-19, which include the accelerated demand for some emerging technologies.

Along side the economic ups and downs, and the surprises brought about by the pandemic, there are the heavily funded innovation and technology initiatives that have been put in place by Saudi Arabia and the UAE. For example, the massive open data projects in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the recently announced $20 billion Saudi National Strategy for Data & AI (NSDAI), Abu Dhabi’s increasing investment in R&D, and numerous smart city and smart city services projects. We’ve also seen an upswing in the numbers of tech startups outside of the popular ecommerce, delivery, travel and transport segments.

However, the one change that I’ve noticed over the past few years, may be the crucial one for the GCC technology ecosystems. I believe that there has been a clear attitudinal change among GCC citizens themselves, that has helped to make technology a more attractive sector for jobs, entrepreneurship and investment. In years past, a traditional career in technology has been a safe government IT job, whereas today locals are joining the tech sector in larger numbers, there is a new generation of tech startups founded by GCC citizens and we’re starting to see more interest in startup venture capital investments from Gulf investors.

Huge, well thought through government tech initiatives, the recent acceleration of demand for emerging technologies and the increasing engagement of GCC nationals in the tech sector are the three top reasons why I believe there has never been a more exciting time for the region’s tech industry.

Read Ashleigh Stewart’s full article on WIRED Middle East.


December 30, 2019
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Former IBM CEO Ginni Rometty said – a couple of years ago now – that AI will impact 100 percent of current jobs, which, of course, is now common sense. AI’s impact on jobs is also a complex subject and its dangerous to try to sum it up in one simple concept. However, by and large, that’s what many tech leaders are doing, with “AI won’t take your job” as the reassuring umbrella message that the whole drive towards AI adoption seems to fly under. The answer is both straightforward and misleading. No, AI won’t take your job, anymore than a gun will shoot you: that requires a human.

Continue reading this story on Linkedin.