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Middle East CEOs Plan Investments in AI

Research from BCG finds that 11% of executives in the region say more than one-quarter of their workforce has received training in the advanced technology.

By Maggie Mancini

Generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) has the potential to revolutionise the world of work, and executives from around the globe want to capitalise on those possibilities, with 93% of Middle East executives planning to increase their investments in the advanced automated technology in 2024, according to research from BCG. This is compared to 86% in Europe, 82% in Africa, and 85% overall.  

Approximately 89% of global executives rank AI and GenAI as a top-three tech priority for 2024, and 51% put it at the top of their list, with cybersecurity and cloud computing listed as the other two priorities. However, even as organisations push for investments into AI, most companies are not doing enough to fully comprehend the benefits of the technology, the study finds. More than half (66%) of executives are ambivalent or dissatisfied with their organisation’s progress on AI.  

The top three reasons for this ambivalence include the following.  

  1. A lack of talent and skills. 
  2. An unclear AI roadmap and investment priorities. 
  3. No strategy for responsible AI. 

While 6% of companies have trained more than 25% of their workforce on GenAI tools, 46% of their workforce will need to undergo upskilling in the next three years, and 62% say their firms are still working to determine how AI-specific regulations develop.  

In the Middle East, 11% of executives say that more than 25% of their workers have been trained in GenAI, compared to 8% in North America, 7% in APAC, 5% in Europe, 3% in Africa, and 2% in South America. Most (90%) are either waiting for GenAI to move beyond the initial hype or are experimenting with the technology.  

To tap into the benefits of AI, executives believe that GenAI will require new roles (81%) and significant change management (74%) to be successful, the report finds. For the companies getting a head start, 72% of those making investments in 2024 are preparing for AI regulations, while 68% have guardrails in place for AI at work.  

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