Huge efforts towards digital transformation are now underway in the Middle East region. Not just businesses, but governments as well, are increasing their investment in technology — some more than double from 2021-2026 — to become digital hubs and ensure a suitable transition into the advanced world of technology.
Several countries best illustrate this technological advancement and achievement.
The UAE, for one, is investing heavily in this sector. The government is placing a large amount of capital investment into a global portfolio of world-class information and communications technology assets and providing high-tech employment opportunities in IT, technology, telecoms and satellite operations, all in an effort to make the country one of the most technically innovative globally.
Saudi Arabia has also prioritized its goals on the ICT level with “Saudi Vision 2030.” The kingdom is substantially focused on digital transformation, as well as on the activation of key sectors: supporting industries; developing public-private businesses; reducing the country’s dependence on oil revenues; providing data analytics solutions; and working on AI-friendly ecosystems.
In addition, Oman is stepping forward as well. After being hailed as the Arab Digital Capital for 2022, Muscat has prioritized the ICT sector’s long-term development through “Vision 2040,” a national implementation program fostering many services and opportunities.
And on the outskirts of the region, Turkey and greater Africa are also coordinating the Middle East in digitization and making mutually assured progress in this field.
Organizations Extending Their Digital Strategies
Today, half of the medium and large companies in the Middle East put digital products, channels, platforms and services at the top of their list of priorities. These companies are focusing on enabling measurable outcomes and scaling digital spending. In other words, they are looking to acquire a good share of their revenue from digital.
Analysis suggests that by 2027, more than 30% of medium and large companies will focus on innovation scaling and digital business operations. The reason for this is that digital strategies help reduce IT operations costs, address labor shortages and increase the uptake of innovation.
The Metaverse and Its Impact on the Middle East
Any talk of such advancement in the Middle East must include the Metaverse. This digital space will allow users to communicate and move virtually via their three-dimensional avatars or digital representations. The Metaverse is seen as the future for business and human interaction and is given big importance in the region. In short, Metaverse elements and applications are developing swiftly. And while the commercial use of the Metaverse is limited to just 2% of companies for the time being, this percentage is predicted to increase to 20% in the coming year.
Furthermore, the potential contribution of the Metaverse to the GCC economies could approach US$15 billion by 2030, spreading its potential throughout the Middle East.
This is not an easy path, and many factors must be taken into consideration, including safety. Nowadays, while developing their Metaverse applications, companies are looking to minimize the amount of data in use and build a parallel digital world that gives users control over their own data. This is in an effort to keep them safe while online as well as give them the tools to respond or seek help if they are uncomfortable.
Turning Points for Region’s ICT Development
Boosting technology in the region and promoting the region to become a developed player with advanced technologies, did not happen by chance. Many factors went into this focus and achievement.
First off, because COVID-19 moved school and work into the home, ICT progress to date provided the tools and the substance for this transfer and operational continuation. This was a lifesaver on multiple levels, for sure, and the Middle East was no exception in benefiting from and thriving on these technologies.
Additionally, the economic landscape is becoming more competitive, and the region is therefore looking to further its digital aspirations and implementations in order to be an effective player. According to the latest predictions, the digital transformation spending in the META region (Middle East, Turkey and Africa) will top $48.8 billion in 2023 and accelerate at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16% over the coming years to cross the $74 billion mark by 2026.
To conclude, between being part of the technological disruption and avoiding being left behind, the Middle East has embraced its commitment to digital transformation despite the big challenges faced by this sector. The fact is that the region has realized the importance of advanced technologies and AI and is working hard towards maximizing their achievements.