The impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on the job market in the Middle East is a topic of widespread interest.
A study suggests that by 2030, AI could contribute around $15.7 tn to the global economy. But the World Economic Forum (WEF) cautioned that over the next five years, about 23 percent of jobs could be disrupted due to technologies like AI.
Based on the WEF’s Future of Jobs report, 75 percent of surveyed companies are likely to incorporate AI in their workplaces. Approximately half of them anticipate the creation of new jobs, while only 25 percent foresee potential job losses.
Projections in the Middle East
The impact of AI in the Middle East will be substantial, with the region projected to generate a staggering $320 bn in economic value from AI by 2030.
Leading the way in AI contribution is Saudi Arabia, with an expected input of over $135.2 bn in economic value by 2030. The UAE follows with a projected contribution of $96 bn. Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar are expected to collectively contribute $45.9 bn in 2030. Meanwhile, Egypt’s contribution is estimated at $42.7 bn in 2030.
Furthermore, the region is expected to experience annual AI contribution growth ranging between 20 and 34 percent across various sectors.
Therefore, it is imperative to understand how much progress this region has made on AI adoption.
The state of AI adoption in the Middle East
The region has seen a surge in AI investment and research, particularly in countries like the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. These nations have incorporated AI into their national strategies for economic development.
Industries and companies in the Middle East are utilizing AI across the board to enhance their operations. For example, in the healthcare sector, AI is being employed for drug discovery, medical diagnosis, and personalized patient care.
Meanwhile, in the banking and finance sectors, AI is revolutionizing customer service and fraud detection, among others. The UAE’s National Bank of Ras Al Khaimah (RAKBANK), for instance, has implemented chatbot technology to provide round-the-clock customer support. It is one of just many banks that have already implemented this feature,
Moreover, transportation and logistics are harnessing AI for route optimization, predictive maintenance, and autonomous vehicles. Saudi Arabia’s NEOM smart city project aims to leverage AI and automation in transportation towards an efficient urban environment.
These real-world applications exemplify the diverse potential and impact of AI in the region. Moreover, these lay the groundwork for understanding its influence on the job market in the Middle East.
Potential impact of AI on the job market
- Increased productivity and efficiency. AI technologies streamline tasks, freeing employees for strategic work. Likewise, they process data quickly and accurately, leading to faster decision-making and improved efficiency in organizations.
- Creation of new job opportunities. While AI may automate certain tasks, it also creates new job roles that require specialized skills. AI engineers, data scientists, and AI trainers are in high demand, showcasing the positive impact of AI on job creation.
- Improved decision-making processes. AI analyzes complex data, identifies patterns, and provides insights for informed decisions. This enhances the decision-making process, positively impacting the effectiveness of businesses.
- Enhanced personalization and customer experiences. AI-powered technologies provide personalized interactions and tailored experiences for customers. This increases satisfaction, loyalty, and engagement.
Possible challenges and concerns
Job displacement and automation
One of the most significant concerns regarding the implementation of AI technologies is the job displacement that may occur. As AI technologies continue to advance, there is a risk that certain roles and tasks traditionally performed by humans may become automated.
While this automation may lead to increased productivity and efficiency, it also carries the potential to displace human labor in the affected industries. This raises concerns about the loss of jobs and the need for individuals to adapt to new roles or industries.
Skills gap and the need for upskilling
Another challenge that the impact of AI poses to the workforce is the growing skills gap that exists. AI technologies create new job opportunities for data analysts and AI engineers. However, these positions require specialized skills that most current workers lack.
This mismatch between available skills and required job skills means that employers must undertake extensive reskilling and upskilling programs to fill the gaps. Addressing the need for appropriate skills and competencies will be critical to ensuring that the workforce can capitalize on the opportunities created by AI technologies.
Ethical considerations and the role of AI in society
Furthermore, ethical considerations surrounding the role of AI in society are of vital importance. As it becomes more powerful and deeply integrated into various aspects of our lives, it is imperative to ensure that its use aligns with societal values and principles.
Ethical concerns can include issues such as privacy, bias, and the potential for AI to reinforce existing inequalities. Strict regulations and ethical frameworks need to be put in place to address these concerns and ensure that AI technologies are developed and used responsibly.
By addressing these challenges proactively and implementing appropriate strategies, we can navigate the impact of AI in a way that benefits both the workforce and society.
Managing the impact of AI on the job market
Education and training initiatives
Education and training initiatives are necessary. This will ensure that the workforce is equipped with the necessary skills to thrive in an AI-driven job market. Investing in AI-related education and training programs helps individuals thrive in AI-driven industries.
This includes offering courses, workshops, and certifications that cover AI concepts and practical applications. Continuous education upskills the workforce, mitigates job displacement, and ensures a smooth transition.
Collaboration between the private and public sectors
Addressing the impact of AI on the job market requires a collaborative effort between the private and public sectors.
Private companies can share AI-related expertise and best practices with public institutions. Likewise, the government can create a better environment for AI implementation by developing supportive policies and regulations.
This collaboration involves sharing resources, expertise, and best practices. These enable the identification of emerging job trends and the understanding of the skills required to bridge the gap between demand and supply.
Policies to support job transition and retraining programs
On top of that, to assist workers affected by job displacement, implementing supportive policies is crucial. Governments can create programs to facilitate job transitions and retraining initiatives.
These programs provide individuals with the resources and support needed to adapt to a changing job market. This can include subsidies for retraining programs, unemployment benefits, and job placement services.
To meet the demands of the digital age, the Middle East can adopt these strategies to navigate the changing landscape of AI. This will help prepare its workforce and make it adaptable and resilient.
AI will bring both challenges and opportunities in the Middle East jobs market in the future. But if we are proactive in addressing the potential negative impacts of AI, we can ensure a smooth transition to an AI-driven job market.
For more stories on technology, click here.