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Quantum computing will supercharge AI. Is the Middle East ready?

Will this fusion redefine the field of science for the next decade?

Quantum computing will supercharge AI. Is the Middle East ready?
[Source photo: Anvita Gupta/Fast Company Middle East]

The speed at which Tony Stark manipulates his fingers to interact with J.A.R.V.I.S, affectionately dubbed ‘Just a Rather Very Intelligent System,’ captivated our imaginations.

A machine so smart that it seems it would take another decade to even come remotely close to it. But will it? 

Artificial intelligence has dominated media headlines for a while. Governments, notable figures, and leading tech luminaries had something to say about it. Whether for commendable or questionable reasons, everyone discussed its potential impact on the world and its people.

And beyond AI is the slow-and-steady technological evolution of quantum computing. 

While AI has changed how we engage with technology, quantum computing aims to redefine every level of computation. But could their collective power usher a shift in the field of science?


The Middle East’s investment in quantum and AI may not be as substantial as other nations, but it is experiencing rapid growth. The region benefits from a focused approach, targeting sectors such as energy, life sciences, and finance, where the potential for delivering significant value is high, says Peter Chapman, President and CEO at IonQ. 

The UAE, in particular, is witnessing a growing interest in quantum computing, reflected in two upcoming events: Intersec 2024 in Dubai, focusing on post-quantum cryptography, and the Quantum for Finance Conference in Abu Dhabi. Since 2018, the country has made significant strides in quantum computing, particularly in the energy and finance sectors, to emerge as a leader in capital management on both regional and global scales.

Saudi Arabia has also committed a $6.4 billion investment in advanced technology, with widespread recognition of the crucial role quantum computing plays in establishing leadership in future technologies, adds Chapman. 

Much of the Middle East’s investment is in quantum computing, and AI is captured in larger budgets for high-performance computing, with Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Qatar as the leaders.

Simone Vernacchia, Partner, Digital & Technology Consulting at PwC Middle East, notes that these countries in the region have actively invested in quantum computing research and development in recent years. 

These investments include establishing research centers, collaborations with global tech leaders, and integrating quantum computing into national strategies for future technologies. The region focuses on talent development, university partnerships, and creating a supportive environment for research and innovation.

In Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) has been spearheading research on quantum computing since 2021, and the country may soon develop its own Quantum Computing Council, adds Vernacchia. The UAE has its Quantum Research Centre, and Qatar has invested in the Qatar Centre for Quantum Computing.

Professor Dr. Leandro Aolita, Executive Director, Quantum Algorithms, Technology Innovation Institute, believes the uptake of quantum computing technology in the Middle East mirrors its global accessibility through cloud platforms. “Forecasts indicate that advanced quantum computers may go mainstream within seven to ten years. The region is strategically positioned to witness the emergence of intermediate-sized prototypes within a more accelerated three-to-five-year timeframe.” 

Mirroring global trends, the Middle East actively pursues quantum computing, emphasizing innovative R&D and technological advancements. As industries adopt quantum computing capabilities, the prospect of developments in computation, cryptography, and optimization is rising. This landscape is poised to redefine the future of information processing within the region and on a broader scale.


“Quantum computing offers immense potential to revolutionize the field of artificial intelligence,” says Vernacchia. Its ability to process and analyze large datasets far more efficiently than classical computers can lead to significant advancements in AI. Quantum algorithms can enhance machine learning processes, improve optimization tasks, and enable the development of more complex AI models. 

He adds that this synergy can lead to breakthroughs in natural language processing, predictive analytics, and complex problem-solving, which are integral to AI applications. Overall, quantum computing has the potential to be the most advanced, energy-efficient, and quick infrastructure for running AI algorithms thanks to its ability to evaluate different scenarios simultaneously. 

While challenges persist in processing large amounts of classical data on quantum computers (QCs), once resolved, QCs could revolutionize generative machine learning and data augmentation, says Aolita. 

“This aligns with the current AI trend of the growing popularity of AI models like Chat-GPT and TII’s Falcon. It may be that quantum computers offer practical advantages for generative machine learning and data augmentation, even before fault-tolerant (e.g., fully quantum-error-corrected) quantum computers appear.”


Quantum-integrated AI also holds the potential to contribute significantly to economic growth in the Middle East. Chapman believes some of these technologies will apply broadly, similar to how machine learning has been used in many application domains. 

The merging of quantum computing and AI is anticipated to bring transformative effects, particularly in critical sectors such as financial services, medicine, logistics, and energy production.

Vernacchia also believes this combination can significantly impact finance, healthcare, energy, and logistics by optimizing operations, improving predictive capabilities, and fostering innovation.

For example, in finance, quantum AI can lead to better risk assessment models, accelerating drug discovery and personalized medicine in healthcare. In energy, quantum computing can optimize the operation of power grids by efficiently balancing supply and demand, considering numerous factors like energy production, storage capacities, and consumption patterns. This can lead to more efficient and reliable energy distribution. 

In the energy sector, quantum computing can revolutionize how companies explore and manage natural resources. It can process geological data to identify potential resource sites more efficiently and help create models to optimize extraction processes, reducing environmental impact and costs.

In fields as diverse as weather forecasting, finance, defense, and intelligence, it can evaluate complex scenarios in real-time and provide decision support and simulations at levels we have never experienced before, adds Vernacchia. Adopting quantum technologies can also create new market opportunities and jobs, further stimulating economic growth.


Currently, according to Chapman, the Middle East needs significant investment in quantum hardware development to catch up. Nonetheless, in quantum application development, the Middle East still has the opportunity to establish competitiveness.

Investing in training a quantum-ready workforce, fostering a supportive environment for quantum startups, and acquiring quantum hardware for application developers are all sensible initiatives for governments today. He adds that several other countries are already investing in developing their future quantum economies. 

However, Vernacchia holds a much more optimistic outlook. According to him, the future of AI in the Middle East, integrated with quantum computing, is promising.

“We can anticipate a surge in innovation and efficiency across various industries. Integrating these technologies will develop smarter cities, advanced healthcare systems, and more efficient energy management.”

Moreover, as the region invests in education and skill development, it is poised to become a global hub for cutting-edge technology and innovation. 

“All this will strongly support the transition of the Middle East towards a knowledge economy.”

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Karrishma Modhy is the Managing Editor at Fast Company Middle East. She enjoys all things tech and business and is fascinated with space travel. In her spare time, she's hooked to 90s retro music and enjoys video games. Previously, she was the Managing Editor at Mashable Middle East & India. More

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