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AI set to disrupt the MENA region’s tech ecosystem, says study

According to a new study, AI is predicted to gain further momentum as governments offer their support.

AI set to disrupt the MENA region’s tech ecosystem, says study
[Source photo: Pankaj Kirdatt/ Fast Company Middle East ]

From government support to significant use in healthcare, artificial intelligence is poised to disrupt the MENA region’s technology ecosystem, a study has found.

According to MENA data platform MAGNiTT’s The Potential Impact of AI in MENA, AI is predicted to have further momentum as governments offer their support. 

MENA countries have published their AI strategies – with UAE leading as it released its AI strategy in 2017, followed by Egypt in 2019. KSA and UAE also have specific government-led initiatives, with the former including it in the Vision 2030 initiative. 

The healthcare sector has seen the most significant use of AI, particularly in diagnosis, telemedicine, and drug discovery. UAE’s Ministry of Health and Prevention utilized an AI-powered system to detect COVID-19 cases, while KSA uses AI to diagnose and treat diabetic retinopathy. Startups are also using AI to help users track their mental health and well-being with apps like Umore and Humancy.

“AI is also blurring the lines between healthcare, enterprise, and fintech by providing insurance for healthcare professionals and offering revenue cycle management tools for healthcare organizations,” the report said. 

Fintech, which continues to be the most funded sector in the tech ecosystem, utilizes AI in fraud detection and investment decision-making, such as AI-powered Sarwa which has managed to raise $25 million. 

Similar to how digitalization saw a boost from COVID-19, the adoption of AI also accelerated, the report said. The boost came from seeing the value of AI-powered automation, remote work, and a change in consumer habits. As e-commerce and retail gained a surge due to the closure of physical stores, it allowed a new opportunity to enhance customer experience by garnering customer data, becoming a sector to opt for AI processes. 

The loss of jobs is one of the most talked about impacts of AI adoption, the report said. Around 18% of work could be automated by AI, with a bigger impact on developed markets, Goldman Sachs noted in a recent report. 

A report by Google estimated that the Middle East and North Africa region will collect $320 billion by 2030 in value added by AI. 

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