Amid the rapid pace of artificial intelligence (AI) innovation in Europe and North America, experts have pointed to the Middle East as the next emerging hub for the technology.

Middle Eastern countries, particularly Gulf nations, are embracing AI as they move to digitize their economies. The Middle East is known for its oil-based economies, but global macroeconomic conditions have forced the region to explore other revenue sources.

While some nations have turned to tourism, others are pitching their tents with blockchain technology and other emerging technologies.

A recent report has highlighted the strides of the United Arab Emirates in AI in recent months, culminating in the establishment of a dedicated council to spearhead ecosystem development. Dubbed the Artificial Intelligence and Advanced Technology Council (AIATC), the UAE’s latest entity will guide the country’s foray into AI innovation and infrastructure development.

The end goal for the UAE is to become the AI’s global hub by 2031, a plan that has been underway since the country’s leadership unveiled its national AI plan in 2017. Under this ambitious plan, the Gulf nation will attempt to integrate generative AI into education,
transport, manufacturing, and health sectors in the coming months.

Saudi Arabia has joined the AI race by releasing its Vision 2030 strategy as it seeks a pivot away from oil. The plan envisions a series of AI innovations, underscored by splurging a fortune on a shipment of AI chips from Nvidia (NASDAQ: NVDA) to power its objectives.

“I am convinced that the Middle East has all the potential to overcome many current leaders regarding the use of AI,” said Pawel Satalecki, an executive at consulting firm Avenga. “However, the upcoming years will have to be spent wisely, incorporating external knowledge and resources into their strategies to catch up and open up the possibility of building the necessary capacity on-site.”

Israel has joined in via state-sponsored AI startups and researchers in leading AI firms, including Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL), Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), and Meta (NASDAQ: META). Meanwhile, Qatar is ramping up AI education nationwide to speed up adoption levels while opening its borders to global AI developers.

Tweaking existing offerings

Experts have expressed doubt over the region’s ability to innovate from scratch, predicting that the Middle East will adopt a “follow the leader” attitude toward AI. Satalecki points to existing roadmaps unveiled by Middle Eastern countries and the integration direction employed by private entities in the region.

“The region has proven that it is very good at implementing or tweaking what the U.S. has already innovated,” said Satalecki.

Several factors stand in the way of AI innovation in the region, including a lack of talent pool, unclear regulations, and fears of misuse by governments against dissent and other minorities.

In order for artificial intelligence (AI) to work right within the law and thrive in the face of growing challenges, it needs to integrate an enterprise blockchain system that ensures data input quality and ownership—allowing it to keep data safe while also guaranteeing the immutability of data. Check out CoinGeek’s coverage on this emerging tech to learn more why Enterprise blockchain will be the backbone of AI.

Watch: Does AI know what it’s doing?

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