GCC countries are developing tech champions to accelerate the growth of their digital economies and establish the region as a significant player in the global tech industry. However, innovation and talent remain roadblocks for some countries in the region.
A 2022 Coursera report on global skills shows that GCC countries score lower in technology and data science skills compared to peer countries. While Singapore ranks 82% in the data science skills percentile rankings, Japan is 91%, and Germany is 88%. However, GCC countries like the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia rank at 35%, 25%, 16%, and 15%, respectively.
“We are seeing the regional tech sector become increasingly more advanced, with a swathe of new supportive regulatory regimes, policies, and initiatives to encourage private sector innovation. However, these aren’t enough. GCC tech firms need to change the way they think and operate,” said Diana Dib, Partner with Strategy& Middle East.
Finding and hiring tech talent, like machine learning engineers, data solutions, and supply chain architects, is difficult in the GCC countries.
The report states that part of the reason for the talent shortage is that skilled individuals prefer American and European countries for tech jobs. It adds that major layoffs from global tech companies, rising inflation, and an unpredictable stock market can present opportunities for GCC tech companies to attract tech workers to the region.
The region also lags in innovation, added the report.
According to the US Chamber International IP Index 2021, the US ranks at the top for overall innovation at 95.3% compared to the UAE at 42%, Saudi Arabia at 40.4%, and Kuwait at 27.9%. There is insufficient innovation in the region because most companies still focus on traditional IT and reselling white-label solutions to their local markets.
The report suggests that regional tech companies adopt three global practices — equity-based long-term incentives and hybrid or remote working models to keep employees satisfied and offer career advancement and development opportunities to their employees while building their talent models to overcome these hurdles.